From Laos to Cambodia and a taste of Angkor Wat
31.07.2008 - 04.08.2008
We cannot believe that we are writing you this email on the 2nd of August (yes I know it is the 4th today but just pretend). Only 10 more days and our journey through southeast asia will be finished. We are certainly a bit sad but at the same time we really have had a wonderful time and we know there will be more travelling like this in the future. There is just so much of the world to see.
Okay so where to begin.
Why don't we start with the bus ride to Phnom Phen. Okay that was a nightmare. Our journey began at 8am that morning. We boarded a boat to take us from our island to the main island. We got on a bus. We drove for 45 minutes and we stopped at a small shack on the side of the road only to realize we were at the Laos Department of Immigration. We submitted our departure card and then walked in between two gates (not Laos not Cambodia but no man's land). We found our second shack which was the visa office, the department of immigration and the bus stop for Cambodia.
During this process, our Laos bus dropped our stuff on the street and drove away. Another bus arrived and we drove yet another hour (it is now about 11am) to another town in Cambodia (strung treng)...it was apparently lunch time, for an hour and a half. Again our bags were taken out of the bus and we boarded yet another bus (only this one had no floor...i shit you not, a girls flip flops actually melted due to heat coming up from the engine or whatever below the minibus)
So now we are off (1:30 pm) on our way no more stops PP here we come. Not quite. at 3:30 pm we stopped again for another 1 hour. Our stop this time was in Kratie another Cambodian town. At this point we just wanted to get there already but instead we sat for another hour (mind you we had not really eaten anything substantial since breakfast). Okay so another bus arrives at 4:30 we board and then it was another 6 hours before we reach PP (so let me review we left at 8am and we arrived in PP at 10:30 or so with no hotel.
We learned quickly that hotels in PP do not stay open for 24 hours we ended up driving around in a tuk tuk and finally found a relatively cheap place to stay for a couple night.
So yes, the process of getting to PP was a bit painful but the city itself is actually quite cool. The next morning we headed off to the old Khmer Rouge prison. (It was a very very sad place.) Pictures of the dead adorn the walls and their skulls and torture chambers are still in place (we saw a movie prior to touring the site) I am not sure words can do the horror justice. It was terrible. Nearly 2 million Cambodians were exterminated during this period.
Then we were off to the Killing Fields (the place outside PP where they took the people to be executed) (Remember this atrocity happened between 1975 to 1979 so everything is still in place or remnants of the dead remain alive in this field (their clothing, bone fragments and skulls) It was again another stop I am not sure I can do justice to.
From there we had lunch (what our stomachs could handle) and then I went and rode an elephant (yes, me on an elephant.) It was practice for when we go to africa ;-) (for all of you wondering, Kevin wimped out...since I am entering this blog post I have the right to make fun of him)
Okay then to the central markets which is basically a maze of booths selling everything you can imagine (DVDs, food, kashmir scarfs, tea sets) all to be bargained for. It is bustling and hectic and if you spend too much time there you could go crazy)
So we finished up the day and had the plan set to head to Siem Reap and then head off to a Thai beach...but we changed our minds. We had enjoyed our day and we truly were rushing through Cambodia so we made the executive decision to eat (possibly...we are trying to dispute the charges) our 450 tickets to Ko Samui and are going to go back to Phnom Phen, explore a bit more and then take a ride down to the beaches of Cambodia for a couple days.
Today (August 2nd), we had our first of three trips to Angkor Wat. Unfortunately, the rainy season hit hard today so it was wet and muddy and definitely no so great for picture taking. Needless to say, we could still get a sense for the enormity and beauty of this ancient place. Again there are some sights that defy words or pictures but when we get home we will try our best. The bad news is that i slipped and fell and believe i sprained my foot. I refuse to not see Angkor Wat so we will be moving and hiking slowly through the temples.
So that is story for now.
Now I am fast forwarding to August 4th (no comments from the readers please) Today was/is our last day in Siem Reap. We saw 18 temples in Angkor Wat over our 3 days. All of them were spectacular in their own way. I am not going to speak for Kevin, but my favorite was this temple about 20 km from Angkor Wat called Bataey Srei. It was a small temple but the stone carvings that adorned the walls made it the most lovely of them all. I took over 200 pictures of Angkor Wat (which means Kevin took about 550 or so plus video), we will see how well my pictures come out...Kevin''s will be spectacular.
I seriously wish I could do this all justice in words but it is impossible to capture the scale, the intricacies, and the sheer manpower it would take to create these things over 1000 years ago.
We did buy a book to help guide us through the temples on our second day (which unlike the first was not nearly as rainy) and that helped. It was like a mini adventure in each temple trying to understand the purpose of each temple and the meanings and stories behind each carving. I guess that was the most magical part (for Michelle at least). Each carving was a story and had some significance. It was like reading a book with pictures carved in a wall.
In any case, after our 18 temples we are now chilling out for the next few hours and then will head off to dinner, sleep, wake up early and get back on a bus to head to Phnom Phen.
More adventures to come...
Kevin and Michelle