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Posts Tagged ‘temples’

Cambodia photos

February 6, 2005 Leave a comment
Jen at Angkor Wat

Jen at Angkor Wat

Jen at Angkor Wat

Jen at Angkor Wat

Climbing down from the central prang at Angkor Wat

Climbing down from the central prang at Angkor Wat

Me at Angkor Wat

Me at Angkor Wat

Jen at Angkor Wat

Jen at Angkor Wat

Bayon

Bayon

Jen at Bayon

Jen at Bayon

Prasat Kravan

Prasat Kravan

Jen at Prasat Kravan

Jen at Prasat Kravan

Carvings at Bantey Kdei

Carvings at Bantey Kdei

Niem, caretaker at Ta Phrom and cover model of the current Lonely Planet.

Niem, caretaker at Ta Phrom and cover model of the current Lonely Planet.

Sunset at Lakeside, Phnom Penh

Sunset at Lakeside, Phnom Penh

Crocodile pit next to our guesthouse in Siem Reap

Crocodile pit next to our guesthouse in Siem Reap

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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 after torture

January 31, 2005 Leave a comment

Here we are in Siem Reap, ensconced in the Tokyo Guesthouse which has a crocodile pit next to it. We can look out our window and see about 25 crocs lazing about, occasionally grumbling but generally not doing much. Which is good.

The other day we went to Toul Sleng and the killing fields at Choeung Ek, just outside Phnom Penh. Toul Sleng was a high school until the Khmer Rouge took control of Cambodia, and they turned it into a prison/interrogation (torture) centre. Going there was a sobering experience to say the least. They have a gallery of the thousands of people interred there (about 17000 people all up). All bar 7 died in the place. That and the killing fields… well, I just don’t have the words to describe what it’s like and think of the absolute evil the Khmer Rouge visited on their fellow countryfolk. Men, women and kids of all ages, none were spared. It made me wonder what kind of threat they saw in pre-teen children and grandmothers. In one of the rooms at Toul Sleng, displayed with some examples of torture implements, were two damaged busts of Pol Pot. I had to fight a strong urge to kick them.

Siem Reap, fortunately, will provide a far more positive vibe. Temples and monuments of Hindu and Buddhist nature, the oldest being built in around 900AD, jungle growing around and occasionally through them. We’ve not seen Angkor Wat yet, today we had a look at Prasat Kravan, Banteay Kdei and Ta Prohm. Amazing majestic structures built long long ago.

It kinda saddens me to think that I’m flying out of this region in 9 days. But I do miss home as well.

Hope everyone is doing well, I’ll be seeing some of you all in a few weeks.

Cheers,
Karsoe/Paul C.

Seeing the sights in Hué

December 25, 2004 Leave a comment

Righto… if you ever find yourself in Vietnam, specifically the city of Hué, look up Café On Thu Wheels (10/2 Nguyen Tri Phuong, Hué). It’s run my a brilliant lady named Thu (pronounced like To). Amazing food, great tunes, cold beer, hot coffee. The walls are covered with scrawlings from travellers indulging in written smartarsery based on the owner’s name, which she herself started with the name of the café. Thu be or not Thu be. That sort of thing.

The name also derives from the fact that she organises motor scooter excursions of this lovely city, and her brothers take you around for about 4 hours and take you to a number of very interesting cultural & historical sites, complete with in-depth commentary. One of the cool things I did was ring a 2-ton bell at a temple, the bell was cast in 1601.

And let me tall you, busy city traffic will never appear the same once you’ve driven through late afternoon pandemonium in Vietnam on the back of a Honda Dream being piloted by a Vietnamese geezer half your size. Well, half my size anyhow. Davo, you might be happy to know that I’m now pretty much cured of my phobia over motorised 2-wheeled transport.

This is *the* best tour in town. Cheap (US$7), and the brothers know their stuff. Very informative, and if you survive you can confitendly say that you’ve cheated death a few times. :)

So yeah, if you end up here, resist the 10 trillion cyclo offers for every step you take on the street & hasten to Café On Thu Wheels. What have you got Thu lose? :) (Sorry, been hanging out there too much)

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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