Cambodia

Welcome to Cambodia
As soon as we enter Cambodia we notice that it is a poor country. At the Vietnamese side the custom buildings are quite new, here in Cambodia they are in poor condition. But the customs are friendly and helpful. Within a half hour the paper work is finished and the officer sais "welcome to Cambodia" and wishes us a enjoy full stay. 
One kilometer after the customs office the pavement ends. A dusty gravel road leads us along the rice paddies. A little boy sits on a big, black buffalo and takes it for a walk. He waves at us with a big smile. Other kids "swim" in a pool that it covered with water plants.When we stop along the road to make a picture, we see everywhere kids coming and they all have a smile and say "Welcome". This makes it pleasent to travel here.  In a little village we stop and buy two coconuts. The woman cuts the top and put a straw in. Really refreshing. Many people sleep in their hammock in their shop between the merchandise.
The morning sun shines over the rice paddies and the palm trees wave in the wind. A dust cloud of twenty meters hangs behind the bike. Carefully we zigzag around the potholes. Wooden bridges are in poor shape or not existing. Or too narrow. Then we have to go through the river and the locals give us a push to help. Several times we have to cross rivers. Deep tire tracks from trucks make it difficult to maneuver through the river. But it gives no real problems. The people use old bicycles or little motorbikes and they are over loaded with bags of rice, chickens, pigs or baskets. If they don't have their own transport they jump on a pickup truck. Twenty people or more loaded in a pick up, their faces covered with a krama (a checked scarve) to protect against the sun and dust. We call this "carpooling".

Sights of Cambodia

Cambodia is one of the poorest countries in South East Asia. About 80% of the people is working in the agriculture and all oil and consumer goods have to be imported. Incomes come from rubber export or (illegal) tropical wood. And cambodia is still recovering from 2 decades of war and violence. It was involved in the Vietnam war and because of that the country is scattered with land mines. They advise us not to stray off the marked roads and trails. Even to make a piddle at the road side can be dangerous...

The most horrible period was from 1975-1979 when the genocidal Red Khmer, under the regime of Pol Pot, tortured and butchered 2 million people to death. At the Killing Fields at Choeung Ek (near Phnom Penh) mass graves of 17,000 people are found. More than 8,000 skulls, sorted by age and sex, are exhibited in a memorial stupa. Speechless and sadly, with shivers through our spines we wander around these killing fields. How can people do that to each other???

 

 

 

 


 

 

Before sunrise we kick on our DR's and ride to Angkor Wat. These world famous temples were build by the Khmer kings between the 7-13th century. Over 100 temples in an area of 200 km2 are found here. It was the administrative and religious centre of the Khmer empire that stretches out over a large part of South East Asia.
French archeologists started in 1908 to cut away the jungle which covered the ruins.

We walk over a long avenue made of rock brigs to Angkor Wat, the most spectacular temple. The silhouette of the five towers become visible in the morning sun. When the sun rises the temple reflects in a little lake. Beautiful. When we take a closer look at the ruins we discover that there are thousands of figures are carved in the walls. Scenes from 12th century Cambodian life, gods and kings and characteristic Khmer-heads are situated on the gates. Some parts of the temples are collapsed, others are still partly covered by the jungle. The whole day we walk around to absorb it. It is the most impressive historical monument that we've ever seen.

Angkor Wat



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