Feb
9
2013

Scambodia

The plan was to only stay in Bangkok for a few days to chill out after India and then go straight into Cambodia to do the main sights. Cambodia was always way down on the priority list for me but it was somewhere near the top on Abby’s, although I doubt it’s near the top anymore! It had the makings of a lovely country and is fairly beautiful in places but just the country’s history – plagued by war and how they have dealt with this, made me not like the place.

We got a bus from Bangkok to the Cambodian border which took a while, then we quickly passed though Thai immigration and then spent what was damn near 3 hours queuing up to get through to the Cambodia side. There wasn’t even that many people trying to enter the country so I don’t know what took so long but it was bloody hot and the weight of our backpacks nearly pushed me over the edge! By the time we got to the Cambodia immigration desk, they couldn’t be bothered with the fingerprint or photos, so just stamped our visas and let us in. Stupid!

We were told the Cambodian bus we were supposed to be getting on was going to take 4 hours to get to our destination, although Siem Reap was only 2 hours away even driving at the speeds my mum drives. It was just another scam to try and get more money out of us (and I’ve spared you all the details about the whole saga of actually getting to the Cambodian border and getting our visas sorted). Anyway, the bloke was getting pissed because I made it clear I wasn’t going to wait for the other 50 people that were on our bus and still at the back of the immigration line, so we just jumped in a taxi and were in Siem Reap in less than 2 hours! Good job we picked up some snacks for the whole journey!

So Siem Reap, is like Blackpool on steroids which is a shame, but apparently this is only within the last 5 years. We were chatting to a guy that was here back then and said pub street had a few restaurants and 5 pubs on it. Now it’s more like the strip in Las Vegas or the so mentioned Blackpool and is just party central for everyone.

The main reason people visit Siem Reap is to wander round the temples, in particular Angkor Wat and the famous Ta Prohm (temple from the Tomb Raider movie). We hired a Tuk Tuk driver for the day and visited all the temples we could fit in. No wonder some people spend a week just looking around a couple of them as they are massive!

As they are all Buddha devoted temples, everything was built to be symmetrical and was very impressive.

I will spare you of the other 1000 photos of temples we have taken!

While we were here, we had to hit the night markets. Those of you with a keen eye may have spotted that markets seem to be the reoccurring theme throughout most of the places we have visited. This is not my doing let me tell you! But no, you are right. We never seem to be out of the damn markets! Abby bought herself a classic Casio watch for £1.25 as not knowing the time for the last 5 months has begun to annoy her!

All in all, ignoring the party life of Seim Reap the temples were amazing and well worth a visit!


Phnom Penh

So again, bad timing coming here as the Cambodian King had died and everything was pretty much closed. Well when I say died, he actually died back in October but they were having the burial ceremony the day after we arrived and most things were closed. I can’t imagine the smell from the coffin if he’s been in there for 4 months so the people could pay their respects.

We had planned to visit S21 which was the main prison and interrogation facility come genocide museum, followed by the killing fields which was located just outside the city. However, having both been depressed to the point of suicide after walking round S21 for a few hours and reading some of the stories from the few survivors, there was no way we were going to the killing fields!

I didn’t know anything about history of Cambodia until I got there but for those that are interested about the S21 part of Cambodia’s war plagued past, the cut down version is as follows: In 1975 a regime called Khmer Rouge lead by some idiot dictator wannabe, Pol Pot, overthrew the government and took over a local high school in the middle of Phnom Penh and turned it into a prison and interrogation facility. It was one of 150 of these facilities across the whole of Cambodia but the most famous as over 20,000 people (an awful lot of those being children) were interrogated and then executed. This went on for 4 years until the Vietnamese got fed up and half invaded, half helped the Cambodian government regain control of its country.

S21 to walk around is very depressing as they have left it pretty much how it was when they regained control and turned it into a museum. Blood stains the floors in most of the prison blocks and the torture devices are still so intact, they could be used tomorrow if required. It was all very depressing.

It makes me wonder what’s going on in the local’s heads as they are all banging on about how fantastic the king was and how his son has a lot to live up to, but what the hell was he doing sitting on his arse for 4 years while thousands of his people were killed? Surely you would try to fight the regime and if you get your arse kicked you just ask the neighbours to step in and help. And it’s not as if they haven’t got any neighbours, the country is landlocked by 3 others! It just doesn’t make any sense!

Anyway, rant over, here are a few pictures to depress you all, although you probably won’t understand the gravity of what you are looking at without actually going.

What annoyed me most about the above photo is, the regime obviously didn't think that a sentence beginning with the word 'you' required a capital letter!

So that was it really, didn’t do anything else here as the palace and most other things worth doing were shut because of the ex-king. So to summarise Cambodia, it was ok, worth going if money and time is no object, but in my eyes a place I won’t be rushing back to! Maybe other places in the country are worth a visit, the temples definately are worth it!

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