Tomb Raidering, Take 1

Trip Start Jan 31, 2011
Trip End Dec 15, 2011

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Flag of Cambodia  ,
Wednesday, July 6, 2011

21:50 Today I went Tomb Raidering at Sambor Prei Kuk.
I went down for breakfast at 830 to find my driver ready and waiting to take me to a olds for coffee. I also asked for an omelette for breakfast as I knew that would keep me going. We chatted and watched the people at the market going about their day. There was a fish seller who made me smile because she uses a stick with 3 bags tied to it to wave around to keep the flies away, an then twin boys around 3 years old stood outside her stall and one of them had a wee, so the other decided to also have one! It was quite amusing and sweet.
Once we'd finished breakfast I hopped on the bike, with my ever useful helmet, and set off for Sambor. The drive tool about an hour, half an hour on good Tarmac roads then the remainder on dirt roads which were mostly very good. The dirt roads here are bright red/orange and I could see my shirt and trousers picking up thin layer of orange on the way there.
It was $3 to get into Sambor, where these ancient pre-ankorian ruins, around the 6th century, are hidden away in a forest. A bloke came over and asked if i wanted a guide, his selling tactic was "because i think it will be very difficult for you". This is like a red rag to a bull, I turned to him and said "I don't need a guide thanks, it seems you underestimate my powers of navigation and I'm perfectly capable of taking myself". I hate these comments-interesting digression-

I was at home one weekend and the phone rang, it was an Indian call centre calling on behalf of sainsburys electricity. They shouldn't even have had my number as I tool it off these sorts of lists apparently. So the guy at the end of the phone started trying to sell me their package, and I'm a pretty savvy buyer I reckon, often checking money supermarket etc for the best deals, so I reckoned i was already on a good rate. He then asked me what I pay a year in electric, i told him that off the top of my head I wasn't very sure. His reply was "ohhh, maybe when your husband come home, this is not work for a woman". WHAT did he just say???!!! I thought these guys had culture classes so that they had some idea of how we lived! I told him in no uncertain terms that this was MY flat and I paid the bills, and no I didn't know the rate off the top of my head because I was happy that it was a good one, and by the way I found what he said to me to be offensive! He put his supervisor on, I thought good! A lady then came on the phone, who also asked me the same question about my rate, I told her the same, I didn't know but I was happy with my current provider, and she ALSO told me it wasn't womens work. Well I just told her straight out what I'd told the other guy, it was my house and I was offended by her lack of knowledge about how the country worked. She didn't apologise, she put the phone down! End of digression.

I set off into the woods using my mystical power of having a sense of direction, an a couple of kids followed me. They didn't actually try and sell me anything really, they just followed me with their bags of scarves in their hands. Some of the temples are in very good condition considering their age and that apparently bombs have been dropped on the area. The beautiful carvings are still visible even on the outside walls and there are replica busts inside as the originals were either stolen or put in a museum. There are 3 temple complexes reasonably close to each other and one had a pair of lions outside in fantastic condition. The 2 girls kept pointing me in the right direction and volunteering information, so I didn't need a guide anyway. There was my favourite spot where a tree is both holding up and tearing apart a bit of brickwork. I asked the girl to take a picture, not amazingly framed, but she's probably never used a camera before!
After a couple of hours wandering round we returned to kampong Thom for about 2pm. I was covered in orange dust, I even had a sort of fake tan on my arms from it, and my shirt had strap marks from my bag imprinted on it. I thought this would be a good time for a shower and scrub down, and a bit of hand-washing.
After I'd done my chores and cooled off again, I went for a slow amble around the Market to take in the atmosphere of the relaxed daily life of the people. I found a park with some slightly odd statues in it and sat for a while. I still wasn't hungry from breakfast. About 4 I returned to my room to continue naming photos and relax.

At 6 I remembered something I read in lonely planet- that at the old French governors house there was a couple of trees full of huge bats that flew off about dusk. So I went out and found the place. The trees were indeed swarming with huge black chirping bats. Sadly the old governors house which is a lovely big house in a big garden, looks deserted.
I sat for over an hour as the sun went down creating a stunning sunset, the sort of sunset I've been wanting to see for ages, the sky was bright red and orange, it was amazing. A couple of other European couples arrived, also waiting to see the bats leave, and it was ages before they did, and when they did, there was hundreds of them, all steadily taking off and heading in the same way, across the river in a westerly direction in a great big stream (they didn't just all leave at the same time, they went in a continuous stream bit by bit). They were chirping and screeching noisily as they left and it was pretty dark by the time I decided to walk the kilometre back to the hotel after 7pm.

As I got near the hotel outside there were lots of portable eating stands. I still wasn't hungry but seeing French bread and a bit of chicken I thought I could do worse than get something small I could nibble on in the form of a chicken sandwich. They had the littl bucket shaped fire pots filled with hot coals, warming boiled eggs and cooking skewers of meat. And big pots of soup or stew or something. It's amazing they way they come with this entire kitchen, tables ad chairs to set up shop in the evening. I got my bread with some sort of sweet sauce also put in, no idea what, and a sort of coleslaw (without mayo part), she cut it and put it in a small bag. I saw her make someone an ice coffee and thought I'd like one too. As she busied about making it, which seemed to take ages, a small moderately grubby child turned up and started poking me in the arm and whining "hellllooooo? Helloooo? Wan dolllaaaaaarr?" and also pointing at the food. I stepped away but the prodding child continued to prod and follow me. I looked around and saw another one prodding a local and figured if I gave in then I'd be surrounded as the one who pays out. I shook my head and went to 'investigate' the other side of the food cart with great interest. He went away.
The ice coffee finally got made and she put it in a cup for me and also in a small, made to measure bag with a straw.

I still can't believe I've been away for 5 months, eating salad, fruit, ice cubes and food off stalls and not been sick except that one time I think was mostly just motion sickness. I'm either very lucky if have a stomach of iron, which considering how flimsy the rest of my body has the ability to be, is at least something!

I took my mini picnic back to my room and watched some of the masses of stuff I brought. I'm onto Buffy the Vampire Slayer now, having finished Arrested Development which I enjoyed. I'm not sure if my interest levels will stick with this one. It's possibly a bit too teeny American and slightly corny. I'll watch a few more before I decide as I still have plenty of more quality shows I can interest myself with.

Best: the wall held up by a tree
Worst: getting very dirty!
Beautiful: best sunset I've seen in an age.
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Glenn on

Stick with the Buffy the Vampire Slayer! It gets much darker and better as it continues.

John Pumphrey on

Hi Zoe,

Your Mum and Dad are just here at the moment with my parents - have been reading your blog a bit - particularly the Russian stages. Sounds amazing! I tried to write a comment the other day, but it didn't work for some reason...

See you when you get back sometime!


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