Temples of Angkor
Trip Start Oct 01, 2011
10Trip End Dec 22, 2011
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Our time in Cambodia got off to a bumpy start with a 4 hr wait at the border, a few dollars lost greasing the border officers (formally called quarantine fee, departure fee, stamping fee, etc), a bus of much less caliber than the "Super VIP" that we booked, about twice as many passengers than there was seats, and of course, a late arrival in Phnom Penn.
Since we are meeting up with Danielle and Nick (friends from high school) in Siem Reap, we only had a day to explore Phnom Penn. It would have been nice to see a bit more of the city past the main tourist attraction but you can only fit so much in one day. Since most of these main sights are dedicated to the very recent genocide of the Khmer Rouge regime, it was a rather sombre day
History - The Khmer Rouge
After a relatively peaceful 22 years of independence, the Khmer Rouge took power and implemented a brutal and radical restructuring with the goal of transforming Cambodia into a peasant dominated cooperative. The regime was led by a european educated communist party member named Pol Pot (Saloth Sar). Cities were dismantled and all Cambodians, regardless of age, sex, health or background, were ordered to work in the countryside in slave labour type camps. Any who were disobedient, were associated to other political beliefs, from a foreign country, had higher education which could undermine the regime, or were mistrusted in anyway ended up in prison or most often brutally tortured and executed. It is estimated that 2 million people died under the Khmer Rouge rule which equates to about every 1 in 4 Cambodians. Although the Khmer Rouge were defeated by Vietnamese troops in 1979, due to geopolitics, most western countries continued to recognize the Khmer Rouge as Cambodians governing body (including the UN)
We left Phnom Penh on route to Siem Reap to meet up with Danielle and Nick and to explore the temples of Angkor for a few days. The Angkor temple ruins are the remnants of a 1,000 year old civilization (Khmer) which ruled much of South East Asia during that period. Most are familiar with the famous Angkor Wat but the area is actually comprised of hundred of such ruins expanding out in all directions.
Siem Reap being the gateway to the Angkor temples, currently one of the most visited tourist attractions on the planet, is not the most picturesque town (or representative of the rest of Cambodia) but an unfortunate necessity to explore the temples. It did however make for a nice place to spend our non temple exploring hours with fish spa's (little fish that nibble at your feet), markets, good friends, tasty food and plentiful drinks. We had the added bonus of running into our Laos travel buddies, Ryan and Christina.
The temples themselves are of course amazing and we spent two days exploring Angkor Wat, Ta Prohm, Ta Kao, Bayon, Angkor Thom, Preah Khan, Phnom Bakheng, Banteay Kdei and Pre Rup
We have a quick day in Bangkok and then fly tomorrow for Myanmar (Burma).
For a full set of photos, click HERE or paste the following link:
Hope everyone is still enjoying the updates.
Steve and Audrey
PS - we have posted a few videos from the Zip Lining in Southern Laos which are available at the following link for those interested.