I left a photo out from Thailand that I thought you may find amusing
Anyway…back to the update
We have dubbed this our “Gap year” and now we are officially gappies. From Bangkok we took the train (3rd class) for 6 hours to the boarder of Cambodia. The train was amazing, the characters on board and the country side we passed
was fantastic. One area of the carriage was devoted to meal production. This had women peeling fruit, cooling down drinks, cooking rice, noodles and our favourite roasted crickets!
The train tracks were so uneven that it felt like we were at sea again going into some serious waves, the gap between the carriages opened up and closed with each bump and moving from one to the next was risky business. At 6am when the
train departed it was 30 degrees and by mid-morning the temperature was in the late 30’s early 40’s Luckily the air-conditioning was working, to activate open the window, and the air comes in.
Ok I lied apart from the windows we had this modern device
Arriving at the border town we had to get our luggage into2 tuk tuks and had a 30 minute drive to the immigration and customs. We needed a Cambodian visa, which is available at the boarder for $20 US, but the Tuk Tuk drivers try to scam
and take you to an agent. Vicki noticed this and we redirected them to the official entrance. The officials were the next to try scam us but luckily there was a $20/visa sign on the wall high enough for them not to be able to remove, so we got through without
any bribes. We then rented 2 taxis for the 5 of us as Vicki and Julie’s version of travelling light is 4 huge suit cases with 6 other bags of essentials!
$75 per taxi for a 2 hour trip to Siem Riep where the temples of Angkor Wat are. The road trip was fascinating, the types of vehicles, what they carried and the rules of the road were quite an eye opener.
My favourite 4 live pigs(large) strapped upside down on the back seat of a motorcycle on the way to the butcher, unfortunately as we swerved pass almost knocking them off the road, I could not get photographic evidence.
Cambodia border and I think there is a trailer under this
However this is us traveling light
The taxis “did not know” where our hotel was, so they took us to their mates, who loaded our luggage into a minivan for the 5 minute trip to the hotel, while they tried to sell us their services. Anybody who knows Julie, will understand
how successful they were with this charade.
This is a genuine Roll Royce see the side
We spent 3 days in Angkor Wat, riding elephants, getting massages and visiting one of the 7 wonders of the world, the temples in this area. Words cannot describe how magnificent the temples are, they date back to the 11th century
and are a mix of Buddhism and Hinduism depending on the population demographics during the various eras.
On elephants again
Angkor Wat Temple
This was recently discovered and the trees have grown over all the buildings and is where the film Tomb Raider was shot…..see Indiana Schofield below
Yes eventually we managed to get Julie in a photo
The food here is exotic to say the least, deep fried crocodile, roasted crickets whole frogs and eel are on most menus. Vicki is quite adventurous with meals but on this account refrained and stuck to the normal Asian cuisine, whilst the
rest of us were searching for Western menus. The markets are plentiful, with colour, smells and variety. You can get silks, bags, T-shirts and fake almost anything. They main currency is reals with a mixture of US Dollars thrown in as a result we are always
trying to mentally convert currencies. The sellers drive a hard sale, but with persistent haggling and lots of patience, a bargain can be had.
Our children continue to be a huge fascination for the locals with the colour of their hair. The kids hate being touched as people lean out to pat their heads or try to hug them. We also understand it is harmless but are aware of the
children’s feelings so try to keep them sheltered from wandering hands.
If you can read this, it is a tank with fish in that massage your feet!
Jess made Julie find a “Pink Elephant hat” She found one and the bonus is that it turns into a fan
A very colourful and friendly place.
Cambodia is a fascinating country with a horrendous history. I knew of the war that had taken place in Cambodia and understood it was still a risky area to travel, but did not understand the enormity of what took place. While in Cambodia
we read “First they killed my father” If you can get this book, (I believe it is at Amazon) please read it. In 1975 Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge army took over Cambodia and what resulted was 5 years of “ethnic cleansing” or just indiscriminate killing of all Cambodians.
They forced children of 5 years old and up to work 12 hours a day in labour camps. They exported most of the food to China in exchange for weapons while the locals were literally starved to death. Anyone not obeying every command was either beaten to a pulp
or killed. The numbers of deaths in the country of 8 million was between 25% and 30 % of the population (2-3 million). Horrendous.
This book is a story of one family’s experiences and I have read a few books subsequently that back up the atrocities of this war relived in the book. We also went to the “killing fields” in Phnom Penh (the capital) where we heard the stories
and listened to eye witness accounts of the killings. Babies were bashed against trees before flung into a communal grave, adults were made to kneel in front of a mass graves while they hit them on the head with a hammer (bullets were too expensive to use
for executions) and hopefully they were killed by the blow instead of lying semi-conscious in a grave and buried alive. For Callum and Jessica it was a real history lesson on how evil war is and hopefully took a lot of the glamour out of Hollywood productions
on war that they will inevitably see during their lives.
The country has still not recovered from the war, the average income for a 12 hour, 7 days a week, 365 days a year job is £1500 per annum. Courtesy of Vietnam who laid the largest landmine area in the world in Cambodia, many people are
still being killed and maimed by landmines in the rural areas. But despite this the Cambodians are the friendliest warmest people we have witnessed in our 2 years of travel and nothing is too much trouble.
I could go on for hours writing about Cambodia, the war, the people and the temples, but encourage people to travel to Cambodia themselves to witness this fascinating country. However you still need to be careful and be able to tolerate
temperatures of 40 degrees. While we were in Cambodia there was a small exchange of fire between Thailand and Cambodia on the boarder we crossed, but we were safely far away from it. Having said that we felt completely safe in Cambodia.
These 2 pictures are of the customs and immigration dock on the Mekong river entering Vietnam from Cambodia. That is our boat!
These are floating houses that have fish farms underneath
River traffic at the back is their house!!
Next update will be Vietnam.