Sunday, April 8, 2012

Cambodia, Siem Reap

First stop Siem Reap, the home of the famous Angkor Wat. Reaching Siem Reap from the border was not an easy task at all. First it was a painfully long bus from Bangkok to the border into Cambodia, then after the immigration and visa processing we were pushed onto a free “tourist” bus which took us to the “bus station” in the middle of nowhere. Here our only options were to either pay $120 for a taxi or $20 for a bus to Siem Reap. Both these prices were ridiculous, but the only other option they rudely pointed out was a to start walking. So biting our tongue and unwillingly loosening our wallets we got the overpriced bus into Siem Reap.

We wanted to hire a car to drive through Cambodia as the roads are all really new and very direct. If you look at a map of the roads in Cambodia there are only several main roads all leading directly to the main points of destination. But unfortunately when we asked the locals they all said it wasn’t possible, it also might have been hard to adjust to driving on the right hand side of the road. 

After the shaky start to the visit, as is the case in most new countries you visit, you soon fall in love with the country. The people there were beautiful and friendly. Cambodia had a real energy unlike other countries. The people after such a rough recent history with the Kmer Rouge, were positive and looking forward to future change and growth. It was an energy of possibility and opportunity for many people. Businesses were opening on every street, tourist numbers growing all the time, increasing amounts of foreign investors and more and more money coming into the country. 

It’s not just the people and the atmosphere that is beautiful, the country itself is as well, and Angkor Wat tops it off. The temples are huge and so delicately carved. The temple building started in 802AD and didn’t finish until 1432! There are over one thousand temples in this area and range from the magnificent Angkor Wat scale temples to piles of rubble. Recent research has shown that the temples were the largest pre-industrial city in the world. The temples span across 1,000 square kilometres! Every temple big or small, intricate or rubble is beautiful and is so amazing to consider that they were all the efforts of many workers creating these masterpieces from rubble and intricately carving every rock face. 
The next day was a lazy one, in true Aussie spirit as we celebrated Australia Day. We walked down Pub Street looking for a suitable place to settle for the celebrations and it was here that we found an Aussie bar playing Triple J’s hottest 100 that we spent our Australia Day celebrations. We found a big group full of mostly Australians all celebrating which lead to a pub-crawl through the street. It was a night to remember, even though details were very hazy in the morning. Next it was off to Phnom Penh.

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