Greetings from Cambodia. I’m on the express bus from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh a trip of I’m told 7 hours. We shall see.
Am on a 7 day Luxury Escapes tour taking me to Siem Reap then Phnom Penh.. I was very surprised and disappointed to see that I am the only person on the tour - it was advertised as up to 10 people and sold out.
My real reason for coming was to experience Angkor Wat. It was really worth it.
Such an incredible place - the mind boggles trying to understand the history, how it was built given the technology of the day. I guess the fact that the lives of artisan peasants were so disposable was a factor. And how it is still standing so many centuries later. Unlike our stadiums!!
It was a 5am start to see sunrise and even then it was so hot and humid. So many people - those of you who came before the marauding hordes of tourists were lucky. Of course the nouveau riche Chinese are here in droves and are the new ugly tourists. I witnessed a big loud beer drinking contest in a restaurant last night - men and women. Made it quite unpleasant for the rest of us.
I know that I am in a very poor developing country with a very brutal history and wonder how the people can be so resilient and pleasant. I guess they know that tourism may bring them a better life - let’s hope so.
If you are coming here for the first time I recommend a visit to the National Museum before going to Angkor Wat. You will get a good overview to supplement anything a guide will tell you. Just don’t have a sandwich there.
That said the food has been good and cheap. I’ve played safe and haven’t eaten in roadside stalls which is not at all like me.
It’s rice harvest time so along the route there are lots of grains spread out in the sun to dry - jasmine is the major rice crop I’m told.
Apart from Angkor and the museum I went on a tour to the silk farm followed by a boat trip on Tonle Sap lake to Mechrey floating village on the northwest tip of the lake. The lake is huge and the level rises considerably in the wet season, hence the floating houses.The locals live a very basic existence bathing and toileting in the putrid lake, often living in one room. There is a local primary school and it would be unusual for kids to go away for further education. Solar panels are the go and there are many tv’s.
I unfortunately picked up a bad cold somewhere, probably at home as it has been with me ever since I arrived in Siem Reap. It has curtailed my activities a little and meant that I found the traipsing around the temples a challenge. I didn’t get beyond Angkor, Thom, Bayon and Ta Prohm.
The countryside so far along the route is flat with modest houses mostly on stilts, rice paddies and an incredible
amount of litter