Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Cambodia 2.0

After my visit in January, I have repeatedly said that Cambodia is on
my list for a second visit. We arrived late yesterday afternoon, and
although the tour guide spoke nearly no English, and there was a piece
of packing rope in my food, and it was raining during the sunset, this
remains my favourite place in Asia.

The thousand year old temples are breath taking. I imagine the
grandure similar to the pyrimids, however every surface here has
intricate carvings on it. You stumble through some jungle path and
suddenly there is this mass of rocks, some fallen over, others still
standing - hinting at what they once were - making you feel as if you
are the first person to rediscover them.

Health and Safety would have a field day. There are almost no parts
which are roped off - either for your protection or the ruins - and
many of the stairs leading to the upper heights require you to claw up
on hands and knees.

The countryside also is a distinct reminder of how low the quality /
standard of living is. I think this is the poorest region we will see
on this trip. While I'm not proud/willing to say I enjoyed seeing it,
part of me is glad for the reminder of just how extreme a place the
world can be.

While Sapa was beautiful, and Luang Prabang was untouched, for sheer
wow factor I would recommend Siem Reap and the ruins of Angkor Wat -
try and get here before it does become roped off, and just another
museum, while you can still truely "discover" it.

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