A Travellerspoint blog

Cambodia

Phnom Penh, 16 - 19 April, 2009

After the two very hard days we had on a boat (getting to Battambang) and bouncing round in a tuk-tuk (checking out the countryside the day before leaving Battambang), we were happy to have a straightforward 5 and a half hour bus ride on a good road to Phnom Penh!

Its a big and busy city located where the Tonle Sap and Mekong rivers meet. It seems to have quite a bit of character, still with lots of colonial architecture, and quite fun to walk around - except that the extreme temparatures (no doubt 35 degrees +) make it too delibilitating to do much!

Still, once the sun starts to go down, the Happy Hours start and one can relax and recover over a cheap cocktail, beer, sangria, gin and tonic, ... whatever takes your fancy! A characterful and historic spot is the Foreign Correspondents Club - nicely located with view over the river - but seemingly no Press are there these days!

The main (pretty) tourist site is the Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda - beautiful in themselves and beautifully maintained. Otherwise, the other necessary sites to visit are the "genocide centers" - the Toul Sleng S-21 Prison and Interrogation Facility and Choeung Ek (Killing Fields).

S-21, which was converted from a high school, has been left largely as it was found, but houses a very poignant exhibition with information of what happened in the three and a bit years the Khmer Rouge under Pol Pot controlled Cambodia, testimonies, etc. Horrific and difficult to believe/understand many aspects of what happened.

The remains of 13000 bodies were discovered at Choeung Ek, in the countryside outside Phom Penh and originally an orchard, which was turned into one of many places around the county where large numbers were killed and put into mass graves during the Pol Pot era. A memorial stupa has been constructed there, and the bones and clothing remnants excavated when the mass graves were cleared are conserved within.

Apparently about one quarter of the Cambodian population died in those few years.

Scenes around hotel 1

Scenes around hotel 1


Scenes around hotel 2

Scenes around hotel 2


Scenes around hotel 3

Scenes around hotel 3


Scenes around hotel 4

Scenes around hotel 4


Scenes around hotel 5

Scenes around hotel 5


Around Phnom Penh 1

Around Phnom Penh 1


Around Phnom Penh 2

Around Phnom Penh 2


Around Phnom Penh 3

Around Phnom Penh 3


Check out the bugs and birds !!  1

Check out the bugs and birds !! 1


Check out the bugs and birds !! 2

Check out the bugs and birds !! 2


Foreign Correspondents' Club 1

Foreign Correspondents' Club 1


Foreign Correspondents' Club 2

Foreign Correspondents' Club 2


Foreign Correspondents' Club 3

Foreign Correspondents' Club 3


Palace and Silver Pagoda 1

Palace and Silver Pagoda 1


Palace and Silver Pagoda 2

Palace and Silver Pagoda 2


Palace and Silver Pagoda 3

Palace and Silver Pagoda 3


Palace and Silver Pagoda 4

Palace and Silver Pagoda 4


Palace and Silver Pagoda 5

Palace and Silver Pagoda 5


Palace and Silver Pagoda 6

Palace and Silver Pagoda 6


Palace and Silver Pagoda 7

Palace and Silver Pagoda 7


Transport around town - Tuk tuk

Transport around town - Tuk tuk


S21 - Toul Sleng Genocide Museum

S21 - Toul Sleng Genocide Museum


S21 - Regulations!

S21 - Regulations!


S21 - Cell   photo when found

S21 - Cell + photo when found


S21 - Mugshots of detainees

S21 - Mugshots of detainees


S21

S21


S21 - View from block in rain

S21 - View from block in rain


S21 - View from block in rain 2

S21 - View from block in rain 2


S21 - Block

S21 - Block


Choeung Ek - Stupa memorial to victims

Choeung Ek - Stupa memorial to victims


Choeung Ek - Stupa memorial detail

Choeung Ek - Stupa memorial detail


Choeung Ek - Stupa and area of mass graves

Choeung Ek - Stupa and area of mass graves


Choeung Ek - Area of mass graves 2

Choeung Ek - Area of mass graves 2


Grand Palace - Some Flowers on tree

Grand Palace - Some Flowers on tree

Posted by Lindseyalan73 17:00 Archived in Cambodia Comments (0)

Battambang, 13 - 15 April 2009

To be completed ...

We decided to catch a boat from Siem Reap to Battambang, instead of the bus. Definitely an experience! Its quite a long way, boarding down river from Siem Reap, crossing the Tonle Sap lake and then a long trip up another river to Battambang. It takes a long time at this time of year because the rivers are very low and the boat has to go slow/gets stuck ... 7 hours, we were warned.

Things did not start too brightly as the minibus pick up at our guest house did not arrive ... but after a couple of phone calls, we eventually ended up having a rather bumpy ride in a tuk tuk in the chase to get to the boat departure point (late). Anyway, they had held the boat up for us ... not quite the Angkor Express boat pictured on the ticket but a smallish boat which fitted around 20 - practically all westerners when we departed at 07h30 (any locals travelling the full route no doubt catch the bus). We went past some fastinating floating settlements on the lake and then past village life going up the narrow and winding river to Battambang, stopping to pick up and drop off locals on the way. The boat scraped the river bed on numerous occasions.

We stopped at a floating place for a break (lunch/drink/toilet) just after midday. (The facilities were a couple of cabins round the back with a suitable hole in the floor stright above the river!). Things did not go so well after that. We were heading up a small winding river by this time and scraped the bottom again when our driver decided to quickly change to the other side of the river, going over vegitation which had suck in the centre of the river. Bad choice! Well and truly stuck. Lots of efforts to move, with the passengers all getting up one end, then the other in an effort to move. Two westerners even stripped down and jumped in the water to help. Finally, after half an hour we did scrape out of it ...

Then, it started to rain heavily and the young lad, who was helping out the driver, passed all the rucksacks down from the roof ... a few minutes later we saw a small head bobbing in the water behind us! He must have slipped and fallen in ... .. we pulled in and the driver went back to return with the lad dangling rather limply on his back. There was a westerner who was a doctor who helped patch up three quite nasty cuts ... he must have been badly shocked as he was out of it for the rest of the trip ...

Finally, a tropical storm arrived with strong winds driving the deluge straignt into the front of the boat for about an hour ... and everything got drenched, of course. It did at least stop for the last half hour ... and we finally arrived at 17h00 !!

Battambang is a provincial town ... not a great deal to see but pleasant enough. We mainly rested the next day! The final day we decided to hire a tuk-tuk fo the day and head around some sites south of the town. As the made up roads stop just outside town it became extremely bumpy and dusty. So, we spent from 07h30 to 16h00 being thrown around the back of a tuk-tuk ... with breaks of 40 minutes or so to go on a (unique) "bamboo train" ride, and then to climb up two diffrent mountains (OK, I exaggerate, "hills") to see some temples in 35 degree heat in the middle of the day!!! The stes were extremely busy with locals as it was the Khmer New Year - but we got a good viewing of the countryside and how the locals wnjoy their New Year. (At one of the sites, following her fame on local Bolivian radio ... ... Lindsey was interviewed for local Cambodian FM radio!)

Floating village on Tonle Sap lake 1

Floating village on Tonle Sap lake 1


Floating village on Tonle Sap lake 2

Floating village on Tonle Sap lake 2


Floating village on Tonle Sap lake 3

Floating village on Tonle Sap lake 3


Floating village on Tonle Sap lake 4

Floating village on Tonle Sap lake 4


Life on the river 1

Life on the river 1


Life on the river 2

Life on the river 2


Life on the river 3

Life on the river 3


Life on the river 4

Life on the river 4


Life on the river 5

Life on the river 5


Life on the river 6

Life on the river 6


Life on the river 7

Life on the river 7


Life on the river 8

Life on the river 8


Life on the river - Faces 1

Life on the river - Faces 1


Life on the river - Faces 2

Life on the river - Faces 2


Life on the river - Faces3

Life on the river - Faces3


Life on the river - Faces 4

Life on the river - Faces 4


Our 'Express boat' !!

Our 'Express boat' !!


Back on the boat after lunch stop

Back on the boat after lunch stop


River at lunch stop

River at lunch stop


STUCK !!!

STUCK !!!


Around Battambang 1

Around Battambang 1


Around Battambang 2

Around Battambang 2


Alain Delon Cigarettes - Eh beh dit donc !!

Alain Delon Cigarettes - Eh beh dit donc !!


Tuk-tuk outing - On the road 1

Tuk-tuk outing - On the road 1


Tuk-tuk outing - On the road 2

Tuk-tuk outing - On the road 2


Tuk-tuk outing - On the road 3

Tuk-tuk outing - On the road 3


Tuk-tuk outing - Bamboo train 1

Tuk-tuk outing - Bamboo train 1


Tuk-tuk outing - Bamboo train 2

Tuk-tuk outing - Bamboo train 2


Tuk-tuk outing - Bamboo train 3

Tuk-tuk outing - Bamboo train 3


Bamboo train - Passing each other !!

Bamboo train - Passing each other !!


Tuk-tuk outing - Banan Temple 1

Tuk-tuk outing - Banan Temple 1


Tuk-tuk outing - Banan Temple 2

Tuk-tuk outing - Banan Temple 2


Tuk-tuk outing - Banan Temple 3

Tuk-tuk outing - Banan Temple 3


Tuk-tuk outing - Banan Temple 4

Tuk-tuk outing - Banan Temple 4


Tuk-tuk outing - Banan Temple 5

Tuk-tuk outing - Banan Temple 5


Tuk-tuk outing - Banan Temple 6

Tuk-tuk outing - Banan Temple 6


Tuk-tuk outing - Phnom Sampov 1

Tuk-tuk outing - Phnom Sampov 1


Tuk-tuk outing - Phnom Sampov 2

Tuk-tuk outing - Phnom Sampov 2


Tuk-tuk outing - Phnom Sampov 3

Tuk-tuk outing - Phnom Sampov 3


Tuk-tuk outing - Phnom Sampov 4

Tuk-tuk outing - Phnom Sampov 4


Tuk-tuk outing - Phnom Sampov 5

Tuk-tuk outing - Phnom Sampov 5


Tuk-tuk outing - Phnom Sampov 6

Tuk-tuk outing - Phnom Sampov 6

Posted by Lindseyalan73 17:00 Archived in Cambodia Comments (0)

Angkor and Siem Reap, 8 - 12 April 2009

The flight from Pakse in Laos was quick and painless and, as we had arranged the guest house in advance, they had arranged a tuk tuk driver to be at the airport to meet us. We stayed at the fairly new Shadow of Angkor II, quite handy for the old town, very good accommodation, helpful staff, clean, well run ... ...

The old town at Siem Reap is really quite pleasant, with lots of restaurants and bars competing to get the tourist business with attractive offers (eg glass of beer $0.50, Gin Tonic $1.00 - can't be bad !!). The Khmer food is pretty good too. After the hard days' sightseeing we deserved to take advantag!

There's soooo much more than just Angkor Wat (the biggest religious monument in the world, by the way) to see. The Angkor sites cover a large area (the furthest temple we visited was 35 km from Angkor), and there is great variety and character to the different sites, which are often in beautiful forest settings. We got three day tickets on the evening of Day 0, which allowed us to enter that evenng to watch the sunset, and then spent a strenuous 3 days going round the many temple sites. We hired the same tuk tuk guy for the whole time and it was a very enjoyable way to get round the sites. It was exhausting on the first day (05h00 to 17h00), with temparatures up to 35 degrees, but overall it was really a superb experience.

On the first morning as we were watching the sunrise at Angkor Wat, Lindsey asked me for the guidebook ... I had left it behind at the guesthouse ... so we bought one of the glossy guides the hawkers were selling at knock-down prices (Ancient Angkor) ... this turned out to be very good fortune as there were good descriptions and pictures of the main things to look out for at each site. Definitely improved our experience. Incidentally, these hawkers were also selling 'original quality' Lonely Planet Guidebooks at ridiculous prices (eg Vietnam: US $5 instead of RRP US $22+)

Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat


Bayon

Bayon


Angkor Apsala Detail

Angkor Apsala Detail


Siem Reap Old Town

Siem Reap Old Town


Siem Reap - Khmer New Year Decorations for sale

Siem Reap - Khmer New Year Decorations for sale


Siem Reap - Old Market

Siem Reap - Old Market


Siem Reap - Old Market 2

Siem Reap - Old Market 2


Siem Reap Town - Lovely ripe mangos!

Siem Reap Town - Lovely ripe mangos!


Modern 3 day passes !

Modern 3 day passes !


Comfy Tuk Tuk for temple trips

Comfy Tuk Tuk for temple trips


Bakheng and Angkor Wat

Bakheng and Angkor Wat


Angkor Wat from Phnom Bakheng

Angkor Wat from Phnom Bakheng


Angkor Wat Sunrise

Angkor Wat Sunrise


Figures at South Gate entrance to Angkor Thom

Figures at South Gate entrance to Angkor Thom


Southern Gate entrance to Angkor Thom

Southern Gate entrance to Angkor Thom


Bayon 1

Bayon 1


Bayon 2

Bayon 2


Bayon 3

Bayon 3


Bayon 4

Bayon 4


Bayon 5

Bayon 5


Bayon 6

Bayon 6


Bayon 7 - Detail

Bayon 7 - Detail


Bayon 8 - Detail

Bayon 8 - Detail


Bayon 9 - Detail

Bayon 9 - Detail


Bayon 10

Bayon 10


bayon 11

bayon 11


Phrom 1

Phrom 1


Phnom 2

Phnom 2


Phrom 3

Phrom 3


Phrom 4

Phrom 4


Pre Rup

Pre Rup


Neak Pean

Neak Pean


Preah Khan 1

Preah Khan 1


Preah Khan 2

Preah Khan 2


Banteay Srey 1

Banteay Srey 1


Banteay Srey 2

Banteay Srey 2


Banteay Srey 8

Banteay Srey 8


Banteay Srey 9

Banteay Srey 9


Banteay Srey 3

Banteay Srey 3


Bakong 1

Bakong 1


Bakong 2

Bakong 2


Bakong 3

Bakong 3


Bakong 4

Bakong 4


Bakong 5

Bakong 5


Angkor Wat 1

Angkor Wat 1


Angkor Wat detail   Lindsey

Angkor Wat detail + Lindsey


Angkor Wat detail

Angkor Wat detail


Angkor Wat centre

Angkor Wat centre


Angkor Wat from rear

Angkor Wat from rear

Posted by Lindseyalan73 17:00 Archived in Cambodia Comments (0)

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