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Posts Tagged ‘cycling’

Anchor What?

February 6, 2005 Leave a comment

Well, we’re still in Cambodia. Tomorrow we’re getting a bus to the “wild west” town of Poipet and crossing over into Thailand. With luck we will arrive in time for a train back to Bangkok.

Still trying to put into words the way in which this country affects me. I’ve never been somewhere that has such a sad history. Then of course there’s the ancient splendour of the temples around Siem Reap. Angkor Wat is the best known of these, and I have to say that it truly is an incredible place. It was built in the late 1100s as a temple to Vishnu, and served as a Buddhist monastery in the 16th century. There were hundreds of tourists/travellers there when we visited three days ago, but even so it’s so peaceful there it’s like another world. There are about 800 meters of old bas-releif carvings depicting scenes from history and Hindu mythology. Climbing the stairs to the central tower would have Sir Edmund Hillary thinking twice. To be in a place so old when my country is so young is quite an experience.

Another experience, far less fun, is cycling 12 kilometers in total darkness. Well… it wasn’t total all the time. :) I had 2 tyre blowouts yesterday, the second one taking place about 5 minutes to sundown. It cost US$2 to have a new tyre fitted, but then we had to ride back in the dark. Fortunately we had an escort for several kilometers, 2 local blokes on a motor scooter kindly shared their illumination with us until we got to a road with some streetlights.

Jen and I moved house to the lodgings annex of the Dead Fish Tower restaurant. And there are more crocodiles there! Much smaller, but more active. One jumped and hissed at me as I strolled past the pit, and I nearly leapt into orbit.

My trip is drawing to a close. :( But we still have a few days in Bangkok before I fly out for a night in Hong Kong.

That’s about it for now. Take care.

Cheers,
Paul C./Karsoe

Bicycle-related silliness in Siem Reap

February 2, 2005 Leave a comment

Right… well, I’ve discovered the secret of navigating traffic in Cambodia. Basically you have to totally empty your mind of any concept of rules, regulations or common sense. It’s every sentient being for him or herself out there, so just get used to it.

Jen and I cycled $DEITY knows how many kilometers around many of the ruins near Siem Reap. Revisited many of the places we saw yesterday, this time with a fully-charged camera. On the cover of the Lonely Planet Cambodia is a picture of an old fellah in one of the temples (Ta Phrom). We have a photo of him. Now all we need to do is find out his name…

We discovered the Vietnamese equivalent of Starbucks (Trung Nguyen) has a branch in Siem Reap, so I revisited my ‘Nam glory days :) by having a ca phe sua drip percolated coffee (aka Best Coffee In The Entire Universe (Franc, take note)).

Just prior to our cycling adventure I went actoss the road to get some water. After paying the not very princely sum of 1000 riel (33 Aussie cents) for 3 litres, I was approached by a landmine victim asking for a donation. I gave, a small amount, but he smiled widely and appreciated the gesture. I think it’s the first donation I’ve given to a beggar on my whole trip. It still tears at me, my moral compass askew, facing choices that I’m just not equipped to make. Who do I give to? All? None? Some? If some, who “deserves”it? This is a country with millions of people truly in need, and no social welfare system whatsoever. What’s all that about?

Cambodia certainly is a country of contradictions; the utter hell visited on it’s people by the Khmer Rouge, and yet they’re still ready with a smile and a hello. The kids are adoreable. And I’m starting to feel quite safe here, despite it’s proliferation of weapons and the utterly insane traffic. I’ve seen driving schools here and in Sihanoukville, I can’t imagine what a safe driving lesson consists of. Suffice to say that I suspect my bagging of Sydney drivers will now operate on a much reduced level.

I guess we’ll be seeing Angkor Wat tomorrow, as well as a better look around Angkor Thom and some other cool-looking Buddhist temples scattered about.

The crocs next door are okay too. :) Well-fed and so far unable to scale walls and open windows. Which is a good thing. I’ve never seen a crocodile walk before, by jeez they’re scary looking bastards on dry land! :)

Righto, must go. Take care. Etc.

Cheers,
Karsoe/Paul C.

Temples, ruins, cycling, ancient trains

December 2, 2004 Leave a comment

Hi all,

I’m back in Bangkok now after a restful week near the Kwai River. My Irish and German travel mates have gone their seperate ways but I’ve since met up with Jen, an amazingly cool Canadian, and we’ve been seeing the sights around Bangkok, sampling some awesome food, and taking some potentially suicidal tuk-tuk rides. We found some very interesting areas of the city away from the “tourist track” of Khao San Road, great market places and food stalls and temples.

On Tuesday we went to a town 85km north of Bangkok, called Ayuthaya, which long ago was the capitol of the Kindgom of Siam before the Burmese invaded and destroyed most of the city in 1767. There are many Khmer style ruins in the town, so we rented a couple of fairly dodgy pushbikes and cycled about to check them out. It’s been a damn long time since I rode a pushbike, but I survived and even today am kind of surprised that my legs don’t feel like jelly.

As someone from a fairly young country, it was truly awe-inspiring to stand among structures that were 400 years old at the time Australia was being settled by Europeans. At one point I walked into what’s left of an old temple and felt something flow through me that I can’t explain. Nor can I yet describe how it felt, I guess you’ll have to wait for my travel journal to be completed. :)

We then got on the oldest train in the universe (maybe) for the ride back to Bangkok. I’ve heard that the trains in Vietnam are older, and slower. I’d like to see that. :) Might generate a more charitable attitude towards CityRail.

Still haven’t fully decided what my next move will be; the prospect of going to Laos makes me a little nervous now, but I still want to go to Vietnam, and Angkor Wat in Cambodia is a must I reckon.

Many of the reasons I came here are a little obscure, I guess, but some of the changes I asked for seem to be happening. It’s not easy to explain. This is the most laid-back place I’ve ever been to. Everything runs at it’s own pace. Things just work, despite the chaos on the surface. I just can’t understand how or why the West in general gets hung up on trivial matters to the point where things that should work just don’t. One thing I wanted to learn was patience and gratitude, and these things are definitely forming within me.

I hope everyone is well, take care, will write again soon.

Cheers,
Paul C./Karsoe

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