Back From Cambodia

2008.01.07 Back From Cambodia

On a red-eye flight I arrived back in Japan yesterday. Cambodia was truly an amazing place and lived up to what others have told me. I went to the temple sites around Siem Ream, the capital of Phnom Penh, the towns/cities on the southern coast of Kep, Kampot

Kampot
, and Sihanoukville, and crossed into Vietnam to Saigon. A few highlights include:

The People Seriously, I think maybe in the 17 or so countries I have been to only Nepal even comes close to the Khmer people’s kindness, relaxation, and friendliness. Moto drivers often say nothing, just raise a hand, to offer their services. Its really amazing when you consider the terrible genocide that took place in the 70’s there.

The Cost I have seen Cambodia show up on a couple of lists as a hot destination for 2008 and its true. The dollar is still very strong there and is in fact the most favored currency to pay in. Hotels cost upwards of $3 and some places offered free basic accommodation in the country’s beach Mecca of Sihanoukville. Meals can be had for upwards of $1. The Angkor temples do cost $20/day, $40/3 day, and $60/week but it is money well spent (though its too bad most of it disappears into the black hole of government).

Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom, & Ta Prohm Among the massive sites that are generally all refereed to as Angkor Wat, a multitude of temples reside representing different times and styles. I saw sunrise on Christmas Day at the world’s largest religious structure, Angkor Wat; starred back at the amazing stone heads of Angkor Thom, often called Bayon; and marveled at nature run wild at Ta Prohm, my favorite site.

The Killing Fields and S21 Highlight in the sense of noteworthy and eye-opening, the terrible reminders of Pol Pot’s genocide campaign are very sobering. S21 is the school-come-prison where 17,000 people were held, tortured, and killed. The Killing Fields are a collection of mass graves where around 2 million people were slaughtered and buried shallowly. The Khmer Rouge took extensive documentation of their crimes which can be seen on display.

New Years at Sihanoukville Hundreds of people lining the beach all shooting Roman Candle fireworks in the air. Not too many big ones but they definitely made up for it in numbers. Cheap drinks, warm sea, and good times.

Lots of Boats I took boats from Siem Reap (SR) to Phnom Penh (PP) and them from PP to the Vietnam border. Riding on top gets you soaked. One of those things that is better to look back on than actually do it, though sitting inside is pleasant.