Cambodia - from Lindsey's blog
Hanoi Travel Blog› entry 7 of 7 › view all entries
Our first stop in Cambodia was Phnom Penh. More motorbikes and chaos, however the city and people were very raw. Genuine, friendly, always wanting to help you - their lives depend on tourism. "Hey lady, where you going? want tuk tuk?" Phnom Penh has a population of about 1 million people, but no skyscapers like Bangkok. Its a sprawling city with dusty/dirt roads and low simple buildings. There are lots of child beggars and scams - a child dropped a fake $100 at our table wanting us to pick it up, telling us it was ours that we had dropped.
We went to the Tuol Seng Museum and Killing Fields, which showed the history of Cambodia's genocide by Pol Pot in the 1970s. The political party called Khmer Rouge imprisoned, forced manual labour and starvation on their fellow cambodians and executed 2 million cambodians. We saw a high school that had been converted into a prison and all the torture equipment and then the fields where they were executed and burried. There is a tower in the middle with hundreds of skulls. Horrific and repulsive, and none of us could believe this only happened 30 years ago.
Our hotel in Phnom Penh was interesting: a box room with no window and three beds squashed together - only a few centimetres apart - so we got very intimate!
Next stop after a 6 hour bus ride was Siem Reap. this journey included a stop where children made us hold enormous spiders to earn some money. Poor Lainey hid on the bus! Siem Reap is famous for the temples such as Angkor Wat, built over 30 years by 1 million slaves in the 12th century for King Suryavaman II. They were beautiful. We also saw lots of temples including Ta Prohm, the tomb raider filmed temple that has trees growing on the roof because parrots dropped the roof and has now collapsed in many places. In Siem Reap we went to Tonle Sap the large lake in the middle of cambodia and visited the floating village, where people live because they don't need to pay for land. We got to drive the little motor boat, hold snakes (even Cassie managed to hold the snake) and saw the crocodiles. Siem Reap is kept alive by tourism to the temples, some of it quite artificial... as in only bars and restaurants for the tourists... but is very rustic and raw. On the way down to Tonle Sap we saw some beautiful cambodian countryside and typical local houses. Everything is very cheap - such a difference compared to singapore! We saw children rooting through bins for food, lots of markets where you see food in its real form - not just on a plate in front of you. Our hearts broke for the cambodian smile and generosity, so greatful for us to take a tuk tuk or buy something from their market. we loved the singing tree cafe, a hippie cafe which has organic food and lots of the profits go back into the local community projects.
If we thought we were intimate in Phnom Penh, then that changed in Siem Reap! Our hotel ended up being only 2 super single beds for the 3 of us in their 'family room'!, we couldn't push the beds together so we ended up sharing beds. Good times.
We had a quick stop in Laos - 35 degrees and beautiful mountains, and now in Hanoi, Vietnam... (more hotel fun times... we are currently on the 6th floor with no lift!) and going to Halong Bay tomorrow.
We took a long boat along the river and canals to see the local side of bangkok. we saw the children playing in the polluted, muddy, full of rubbish water, and the small houses made out of wood and built on stilts. Its a reality check from my cosy life in Singapore - efficiency, organised, clean, wealthy... it opens your eyes to the inequality, poverty, pollution, the need for greenness and recycling, preservation...
I just snuck online to use the end of Lainey's internet time.
tomorrow we are going to cambodia :)
rafting photos (we were in the green raft)