Posts Tagged ‘temple’

Photos from a Frontier Town

A small town 17 kilometers from the Thai border and 80 kilometers from Battambang, Pailin is often called the Wild West of Cambodia. During my three-night stay, I didn’t see another Westerner. I was even forced to try out my very limited Khmer when it came to ordering food and drinks and finding out how much things cost. Pailin would be the perfect antidote to anyone burned out from Cambodia’s “tourist trail”.

It’s true that there’s not a lot here for travellers, but for me that’s part of its appeal. There are no Western-style bars, no nightlife to speak of. It’s a true Cambodian town which has not felt the touch of tourism. In fact, every transport option that I was given while there offered me a lift out of town, either to Battambang or to the Thai border. For a Westerner to stay in Pailin is evidently still something of a novelty.

The town has a chequered past, from being a wealthy area famous for its abundance of gems and timber in the 1800s to being one of the last strongholds of the Khmer Rouge as recently as 1998.

The area is populated with descendents of Burmese immigrants who came to the area in the late 1800s in search of fortune. One of the remaining influences from Burma is the golden stupa at Wat Phnom Yat on the edge of town.


Old bicycles and ancient temples

December 2, 2004 Leave a comment

BANGKOK, THAILAND – I’m back in the capital after a restful week near the Kwai River. My Irish and German travel mates have gone their separate 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 scary 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 Kingdom 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.