Showing posts from February, 2008

On Thai Weddings and catching up with good friends.

We crossed at Poipet/ Aranya Prathet. It's amazing what an "imaginary line" can do. As soon as we crossed this line it was more than clear how much more affluent Thailand is compared to Cambodia. The roads were excellent, showing us the most immediate, obvious and visible difference! In no time at all, we had negotiated a tuk-tuk to take us the 7 kilometers or so to the main bus station, where we organised a bus to Bangkok. Before we knew it, we were on our way. The last time we had been to Thailand was about two and a half years ago, and I was astounded by the change. Over the last 19 years I have been to Thailand some 5 or 6 times, and each time I return, I am overwhelmed by its rate of growth and progress. It was great to see! This country had been very third world when I first visited, in the early 90's, but now, wow, it's moved into the 21st century with its pedal to the metal and in fifth gear!

Although we normally do not book places to sleep in adv…

Angkor What?

Siem Reap is Cambodia's cultural and spiritual heartbeat, and indeed no visit would be complete without visiting the infamous temples of Angkor, only a few kilometres away. Siem Reap has become quite the thriving little metropolis! Maybe too much so! It now abounds with throngs of people on tour groups, who probably visit little else in Cambodia. The problem is that many look like they should be on a Milan catwalk, and look rather out of place amongst the poverty that surrounds them. This flaunting of wealth looks not only ridiculous, but totally out of place, in a country where so many people live precariously below the poverty line! Gucci handbags and stilettos have never really been my thing, but here they look both obscene and ostentatious! But that's not all folks (not only do you get the free steak knives......) Siem Reap is full of pumping bars and pubs, pushing equally obscenely priced drinks...........whilst the locals walk around trying to make a living by sel…

R'n'R in Sihanoukville.

As I have already mentioned, Cambodia wins no prizes in the outstanding road stakes. It's a poor country, and its roads reflect this. The "main drag" from the capital to Sihanoukville was no different. The countryside certainly reflected the nation's poverty, and as always, it's interesting to be the quiet observer. Local transport always gives one the opportunity to do this. Sihanoukville is effectively Cambodia's beach town getaway, but it's still light years behind most Thai resorts and beaches. This alone , however, surely has to be an enticing thing!

Upon arrival, we caught a couple of motorbikes (drivers included!) in a bid to look for some accommodation, as the main sleeping area was a ways from the bus station. What a sight we must have looked, flying along the road, complete with two humongous backpacks hanging off us! It did not take us long to work out that although we had not paid a lot to be driven around, that the drivers were taking us to pl…

Coming face to face with Pol Pot and his brutal regime.

Like all too many people passing through Cambodia, we didn't spend enough time here! My usual war cry here, yet again, was next time, next time! Wedged in-between Vietnam and Thailand, most visitors to this small but fascinating country usually whip through as they pass from one side to the other, often not fitting in much more than Angkor Wat. But Cambodia is so much more than Angkor! We should have spent less time in Vietnam, we both kept repeating to ourselves. Hindsight is such a tremendous thing really!

We decided that our first stop would be Phnom Penh, the country's capital. We also found out very quickly that in Cambodia, pretty much all roads lead to Phnom Penh , or at the very least, pass through it! It was a short boat ride to the border, Vinh Xuong on the Vietnamese side and Kaam Samnor on the Cambodian. The border formalities, well were not very formal, and after passing through both borders, we were left to our own devices. We soon organised a bus, and w…