Monday, August 20, 2012

Cambodia!


 

Over the last 2 weeks, I've been in Cambodia, taking in the sights and eating what there is to eat (which is a lot). Cambodia is a remarkably beautiful place and, oddly enough, often reminded me of Mongolia. The people are so friendly, the roads are sparse and chaotic, and the nationals are still doing the hard back breaking work they've been doing for centuries. Only instead of grasslands, there are rice paddies. Instead of slaughtering sheep, they are collecting coconuts. And instead of it being cold, it is very hot.

We took a bus from Bangkok to Siem Reap, which DESPITE THE TRAVEL BLOGS IS REALLY EASY AND NOT STRESSFUL AT ALL. I hope future travellers will read that and relax because after I read a billion horror stories on the interweb, I thought the trip was going to be hell. It was fine, people. Totally fine. 
Anyhow, onto Siemp Reap, the hometown of Angkor Wat. The town itself was quite nice, but it clearly only existed for tourists. There were so many foreigners there, it was challenging to find a local whose job didn't consist of accommodating tourists in some fashion. But, the temples were sweet. Check it out:



Most of the temples were covered in really detailed reliefs. You could spend hours just looking at one (and I suspect many have)

In some of the temples, the ruins are being overtaken by trees. It looks pretty gol-darn awesome except that the trees are wreaking havoc on the integrity of the structures. 


                               
                                  Bayon - A large temple with faces carved into the pillars. One facing each directions. 
We rented bikes to explore the area!

Some call Angkor "the largest jigsaw puzzle on Earth." After  finding all the ruins, archaeologists are now in the process of puttin it back together.  


And then we ran into an elephant!









We saw a really beautiful traditional dance performance and when they were finished, they just stood there so stupid tourists could take pictures with them. 

And then we ran into a fellow Peace Corps Volunteer from  Mongolia! How about that! And, Molly Cook, my college roommate was there too!
After the hustle and bustle of Siem Reap, We took a nice relaxing Jungle Cruise to Battambang (and yes, the whole time I kept thinking, this is just like DisneyWorld). 

The Tonle Sap. Depending on the season, the river system created form this lake changes direction!

A floating village. Literally everything floats. People don't walk. They have boats that take them to the store or to their friends house. It's quite neat. 




Rice field!

View from a top a mountain. This mountain is very depressing. I only took one picture because  out of respect. During the '70s, Cambodia was taken over by the Khmer Rouge, who, like the Nazis, systematically killed their people. This mountain housed what the Cambodians call "the killing caves," 100 feet deep caves, where parents were forced to witness as their children were pushed in. A similar cave nearby was then waiting for the parents. The atrocities carried out by the Khmer Rouge regime are on par, and in some cases even worse than those of the Nazis. 
Whew, depressing. Sorry to leave you on that note, but that's what I saw and did in Cambodia! After that I hopped over to Phnom Penh and now I'm in Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam.

Catch ya on the flip side, people. 

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