Thursday, 5 July 2007


Having moved countries, I've had to switch to Angkor the local brew, which isnt bad.
Coincedentally, it's also the name for a fairly famous group of temples close to Siem Reap, and the main reason people come to Cambodia.

For the last 3 days I've been whizzing round on the back of a Moto from one to the other, and though there are too many to mention, Angkor Wat itself for the sheer scale, Banteay Srei for the intricate details and Ta Phrom for the enclosing jungle (and getting to see where Angelina Jolie stood) were all pretty amazing. The banter with the local kids, in equal parts endearing and annoying, was as much a part of the experience as the high speed chases and the temples.

Hello. Where u from?
Capital Dublin. Conas ata tu.
Very good.
I have T-shirts.
It's ok, I don't want one.
If you don't want one, maybe you want two?!
U want bracelet?
Have already.
U buy one for your girlfriend?
I don't have one.
You don't have? I can get u one.

And they probably can too.

The other thing Cambodia is associated with is Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge killing spree in the 70's and 80's. I've just finished reading this book from a survivor, and although I couldnt put it down, at times I wish I had as it's pretty harrowing. Most people here I talk to lost parents or siblings to the war, so it's still pretty fresh. But the people here are very spirited and they are very definitely looking to the future.

Crossing the Thai border the first thing I noticed was the number of expectant Moto drivers looking for fares - they were everywhere. The border town could almost have passed for an Indian crossing, with the dust, noise, dodgy money changers, cows chomping on the litter and a few hindu statues in sight. Many of the houses were pretty basic thatched affairs, build on stilts to cope with the worst of the flodding during the wet season. The road to Siem Reap lived up to The Book's label as boulevard of broken backsides, with a fair portion of the journey spent in mid air. Still I was a bit dissapointed to be on a reasonably comfortable (by 3rd world standards) bus instead of the pick up truck i was expecting.

Siem Reap has some fairly trendy parts to it though, with bar street a fairly obvious target for a session tonight, now that I've moved from the burbs to downtown. Foods pretty good so far - being kind of less tasty thai/chinese ish, but unlike in Thailand I've actually resorted to the odd western dish here for dinner.
Speaking of which, I feel the urgent need for a nice cheese baguette and coffee - Vive La France.

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