IT'S LYNNY KANSAS
DON'T LET THE RUBY SLIPPERS,
OR THE DOROTHY INSPIRED NICKNAME
FOOL YOU., THERE'S NO PLACE LIKE HOME,
BUT TRAVELING IS FUN.
Making the most of the kids being on this side of the World, a trip to Cambodia was top of our list, it is somewhere I personally have always wanted to go to. It is only a 2 hour flight from Singapore which is really nice and as we only had 3 days it fit the bill perfectly. We also knew it would be a completely different experience for the kids from Singapore.
Even from such a fleeting trip it was hard not to be struck by the hardships caused mainly by war that this Country has gone through in fairly recent times. We saw some really sad things, kids begging in the streets and desperately selling trinkets at the temples for one. Yet, the people are so gentle, kind and humble.
We also were amazed at the every day life we saw in Siem Reap. The main mode of transport is the motorbike and the tuk tuk, making moving around on the roads let me just say "interesting"! We knew we were in for a few wild rides when on our first tuk tuk trip out from our Hotel, the driver pulls into the road going against the traffic!! He just kept ringing his bell and eventually just worked his way onto the right side of the road - phew!!! We also kept an eye out to see if we could spot the most people on one bike - sometimes whole families were piled on, amazing!
THE TEMPLES ARE COMING, BUT FIRST SOME FOOD
Before I sock you with my temple pictures I thought I would share a fun meal we had at the famous Siem Reap "Pub Street" After spending a morning at the temples we headed to Pub Street for a wander. Initially attracted by the 50c beers (which believe me, after prices in Singapore, is manna from Heaven), we decided to stop and have a nice cool Angkor beer and some lunch.
The Cambodian BBQ we saw looked really good so we gave it a go. They bring you a metal domed BBQ which sits over coals and it has a well or trough which they put stock into and add vegetables and noodles to cook. We had onions, peppers and basil but you can essentially choose whatever combination you like. Next you pick your meat or shrimp which they bring and you place onto the metal dome to cook. You will see in the pictures that they placed a chunk of pig fat on the top of the dome which greases the dome and helps to stop the meat sticking. The whole thing is served with rice so you spoon the broth with the veg and noodles over your rice and add the meat. It was really delicious and so cheap, only $10 US dollars for enough for 2 people. All washed down with a 50c local Angkor beer! Can't be beat.
THE IMPOSING ANGKOR WAT
The major reason for going to Siem Reap has to be the amazing temples (of which there are many), Angkor Wat is the most well known and a definite must. We had intended to get up really early so we could catch the sunrise at Angkor Wat (visions abounding in my head of awesome photos ha ha!!), once we were told we would have to be picked up by the driver at 5am and that there was a big chance (because of the weather) it would be cloudy and therefore not a good sunrise, we decided to have a lie in until 7.30am!!
It is a short drive to Angkor Wat from the town of Siem Reap where we were staying, by the time we got there around 8am it was already packed with tourists and tour groups and heartbreakingly, lots of kids selling trinkets and souvenirs.
I was stunned at how big the complex was. Built in the 12th Century during the heyday of the Khmer it is surrounded by a moat and it's five towers are surrounded by a maze of walls, walkways and statues all with amazing symmetry, astrological and religious significance.
It was fantastic (and hot!) walking around the complex thinking about how long those stones have been standing there and admiring the amazing feat of engineering.
Apologies if a lot of the pictures look alike, I am still trying to get the hang of my big camera so I got a little snap happy!
THE TEMPLE OF TA PROHM
Who can forget the movie Lara Croft, Tomb Raider with good old Angie soon to be Pitt?! The temple of Tah Prohm was high on our list because of this piece of trivia but my was it a good choice. The temple has been left to nature for the most part over the years unlike most of the other temples in the region and the result is some amazing and eerie sights.
The roots of trees growing into and over the stones made the place really interesting and gave an almost etherial feel to the place. Whilst we were there they were actually doing some renovations. As with most of the temples there are so many doorways, walkways and ins and outs, just incredible. For more pics please go to the menu at the left side of the page where you can scroll down to Cambodia and then Tah Prom. I got some really good photos though I do say so myself.
LET'S TAKE A TUK TUK!
We love our tuk tuk rides! A tuk tuk from our Hotel to Pub Street was $2 US dollars - the footage and experience - PRICELESS!!
QUAD BIKES ARE FUN
We have been to quite a few places over the years on vacation and in nearly all of those places, especially when all four of us are together, we try and do a quad bike tour. It's kind of become our "family thing". When we first started out doing quad tours Heather was not old enough to drive her own quad and I was too scared lol!! This time around we all had our own quad (much trepidation on my part but felt it was time to get brave and let Graham drive a quad without a screaming pillion rider!!)
It took me a while to get the hang of it and so of course I was at the back, eating everyone's dust ha ha! We were out for about 3 hours and rode through some of the outlying villages and rice paddies. It was quite heart wrenching in places seeing how these people live. We had some candy with us and stopped every now and again to hand it out to the kids we passed (which were many). Again this was pretty heart wrenching and in some ways I felt a bit patronizing. The kids faces lit up though and if we stopped too long there would be swarms of kids heading towards us so we had to set off again pretty quick. We got to stop for a little break at a small village store which was very interesting too.
KIDS NOT IN SCHOOL
The school system is very poor in Cambodia. When the Khmer Rouge came to power in 1975 they completely abolished all education and systematically destroyed textbooks, teaching materials and publishing houses. The majority of teachers, researchers and technicians either fled or were killed. It is estimated that 75 and 80 of all the educators were either killed, died or fled during this time. In 1979 after the overthrow of the KR, the education system had to be completely re-built. The Country still suffers from a lack of qualified teachers and resources and very big lack of government spending on education. Most of the cost of education falls upon the parents who for the most part cannot afford to educate their children, especially those in rural areas. For more information I have placed a link at the bottom of this post. The American School amongst others here in Singapore do a lot of work with The Tabitha Foundation, sending students to Cambodia to help build houses, schools and hospitals and take part in other programs to help benefit the poorest people in Cambodia. Again link is below.
All in all we really enjoyed our trip to Siem Reap. It was eye opening in many ways and made us oh so appreciative of the things we are so fortunate to have.
This picture I took is rather poignant I think, you have the tuk tuk decorated with a symbol of wealth and prestige and right next to it the sad reminder of what Cambodia has gone through and the dangers still lurking in the ground there. Still nearly 3 million land mines remain unexploded in Cambodia. A reminder of how far they still have to go.