Best Capital Ever

Trip Start Dec 16, 2006
Trip End May 30, 2007

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Flag of Cambodia  ,
Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Crossing the border between Lao and Cambodia had to be even stranger (and cooler) than between Thailand and Lao.  This time, instead of a small boat simply dropping us off across the river, we literally walked ourselves across the border in the middle of a forest.  Make sure to look at the pictures I uploaded...very random.  After the border crossing and two bus trips we made it down into the capital of Cambodia, and got our first real look at the country.  I know before I've mentioned my distaste for most of the capitals we've been to, but Phnom Pehn doesn't even seem like a capital.  It is big and busy, full of people, markets and motos in the streets, but it also has beautiful old French buildings and Kmer monuments everywhere you seem to look.  The people are amazing too.  Some are so very poor here, but almost all are kind, generous people.  We ended up staying here for almost two weeks before even contemplating the trip to Siem Reap to visit Angkor Wat.  The guesthouse we stayed at (Number 9 Sister G.H.) had a relaxed, breezy atmosphere with a great staff (or should I say family), and stunning view of Boeng Bak (Lake).  We also met some great friends from the States and Israel.  In particular, Diana from SanFran, who invited us to visit Lighthouse orphanage where she volunteered.  We spent two days with the children and staff there, and had so much fun playing sports, talking and just hanging out.  On our second visit we were lucky enough to take part in Lighthouse's 3 year anniversary.  Some of the children performed traditional Kmer dances and all received a wrapped gift for the Anniversary/New Year celebration.  The children at this place would melt your heart.  They immediately greet all the foreigners who visit with so much curiosty and love.  They all want to know your name and where you're from.  Many of them even take special English lessons from volunteers, as well as their regular Cambodian teacher, who asked if I'd like to take his place for that afternoon.  The kids were so eager to learn and participate.  I thought to myself, if only my students in Korea had been as interested in learning English, my life would have been so much easier. In any case, we had a great time at Lighthouse and we'd love to go back some day.  We also visited the National Art Museum in Phnom Pehn, which was a piece of art itself.  An open-air building designed in traditional wat (temple) style with a huge garden in the center, this place was beautful inside and out. We saw lots of old Khmer art including artifacts recovered from some of the temples of Angkor Wat.  We also spent a day lounging around the pool at a five-star hotel called The Cambodiana.  Though most of our time in Phnom Pehn was spent simply hanging out on the deck of our g.h. with Diana and the rest of our US crew-Aaron, Ariel and Ari and my Israeli friend Lala.  Much more to tell you about in up we headed to Siem Reap to take in the astounding Angkor Wat.
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