Thursday, 18 August 2011

Cambodia (August 2011).

The courageous spirit of Cambodia

Next stop - Cambodia! 

Cambodia was definitely a worthwhile place to stop whilst travelling in South East Asia. We visited; Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Battambang to name just a few. I really enjoyed seeing what Cambodia had to offer, but for some of this trip I was quite ill, which does tend to dampen the spirits somewhat... However, Cambodia didn't fail to intrigue me, especially with its prominent Buddhist faith, practised by over 95% of the population - not for the first time when travelling, I wish I could have had the ability to speak with locals in their own language!

Ta Prohm - Siem Reap
You may recognize the appearance of this temple from the film
Tomb Raider. It was pretty cool to see the way that the trees were
growing through the ancient ruins. It's another UNESCO
World Heritage Site, and I was fascinated by the bas-reliefs that
illustrated parts of Buddhist mythology.

Although this isn't really specifically 'Cambodian', it was one of the highlights.
Here you can see a ton of tiny fish sucking the dead skin off my feet - gross! The
feeling was horrible and made my skin crawl, but it was something very new and different that
I was initially afraid to try, but managed in the end! Costing only $2 US dollars, I was able to
return time and time again, getting braver each time.

'Cambodia's Bamboo Train'
I think this has now been officially declared as 'too dangerous' for tourists to use - and I can
definitely see why. This is a single track for the 'trains', which you can see in the photo. I took this
when we had to stop, due to another train coming down the track the other way. In this case, the
'train' with the lightest load has to dismantle and allow the other to cross! One of the most bizarre forms
of transport I have ever been on - and the lack of suspension is not good for your derrière...

What was on the menu? Tarantula. I didn't dare try it, but I really wish
I had. My mum had a nibble and said that the legs tasted like Twiglets.
- Tropical storm -
One of the scariest storms I've ever experienced. Although I'm not really
afraid of them as a general rule, I was convinced that the roof was going to cave in.
At least I didn't let the photo opportunity go to waste, that's all I can say.

I was actually quite surprised to learn that the Vietnam War also massively affected Cambodia. As the war extended, this gave rise to the Khmer Rouge. I had the privilege to visit one of the sites of the 'Killing Fields' where the victims were buried in mass graves. This was one of my first exposures to the brutality of mankind. Despite having heard about the horrors of Auschwitz, this was my first real-life, and face-to-face encounter with the brutal reality of genocide. Over 1 million people were killed, and history has since repeated itself. I don't have any photos of my experience there, but the tragedy of genocide left tears streaming down my face and I will never forget what I saw there.

However, on a brighter note... the Cambodian people were reunited under the existing monarchy in 1993, and the previously war-ravaged nation has since gone from strength to strength. Their economy is growing, their people are smiling and Cambodia inspired me to discover more about the Buddhist faith which is displayed so strongly by the people.

"Travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on deep and permanent, in the ideas of living." Miriam Beard

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for your and all the others' attention to my poor country, Kingdom of Cambodia, Edwards. I myself experienced such tragic history since March 18, 1970 when peaceful Cambodia fell into wars over-spilled from neighboring Vietnam. I still keep a lots of bad memories on the atrocities of wars that were human-made. I have long planned to write a long nightmare of my life that was experienced and seen by my own eyes started from the short alarming exclamatory sentences: "Cock it twice! Cock it twice" that have still had resonance in my ears and mind since that March.
    On mid-morning of one March 1970 day, while my older brother and I were pulling a trees-loaded cart along a road by a military barrack ... to make a trench, a US-South Vietnam war aircraft flew low over the military base (located some 15 kilometers within Cambodia's territory from the border with South Vietnam)
    A Khmer military commander ordered frantically: "Cock it twice! Cock it twice!" to his men to fire at the aircraft. I want to use these exclamations as the title of my book if I can afford my time to write it.