My tagline is “the journey is part of the destination” and today this was certainly the case. I wanted to go to Battambang and there is a bus but I heard that the boat, though slower and more expensive, is a worthwhile experience so I decided to try. At seven in the morning a minibus picked me up and brought me out of Siem Reap down to Chong Khneas on the shore of the Tonle Sap. There I got on the boat which was quite a simple thing made from wood, with a thumping diesel engine in the back and … Read the rest
We are sailing through a field, there’s not even a channel anymore, just a mass of floating plants, big bulbous roots under water and green stems culminating in thick, waxy, cup like leaves. The boat goes through them, crushing them beneath the prow, and our wake sends large ripples through the field. Behind me I can hear the engine straining as the propeller chews through the vegetation.… Read the rest
The channel we’re sailing along is barley wider than our boat, the edges lined with submerged trees and water living vegetation. The branches keep scraping along the sides, some even reaching in through the open windows, bending back then twanging forward in a shower of leaves and twigs as they hit the pillars supporting the roof, and I have to keep ducking to avoid getting slapped in the face. I never thought taking a regular passenger ferry would be such an adventure.… Read the rest
A small stage: the backdrop, the curtains and all the other hangings are made from silver colored spangly cloth. At the center of the backdrop is a large photograph showing three men in make up and women’s clothing with the text “Free Daily Ladyboy Show” printed in purple across the bottom. Along the front edge of the stage is a line of multi colored LED lights, and above it a large mirror ball. There are no proper seats for the audience, just two rows of pink massage chairs, the people having their massage getting treated to a free show no … Read the rest
So today has mostly been a waste of time. The plan was to go up to Anlong Veng near the Thai border and visit the house of Ta Mok, one of Pol Pot’s butchers. The day after we would rent a motorbike and make a day trip to the Preah Vihear temples.
We got to Anlong Veng by taxi (for some reason there is no public transport) and quickly found a guesthouse. Despite the rain that had started to fall we headed over to Ta Mok’s house which turned out to be pretty much nothing, just a few old buildings … Read the rest
There are several floating villages in Tonle Sap lake/river (the distinction between them is a moot point). The most easily accessible from Siem Reap is Chong Khneas but I’ve heard it’s a bit of a Disney land with more tourists than locals and plenty of people trying to scam you, so I didn’t want to go there. Somewhat further away is Kampong Phluk which is an authentic village but apparently it’s quite small so a visit there will be very short. About 50 kilometers from the city is Kampong Khleang which is a much larger town than Kampong Phluk with … Read the rest
The main street, if it can even be called that, is a long, orange brown dirt road running the entire length of village and lies just a foot or two above the water level. In the wet season I am sure it becomes flooded, turning from street to canal. The sides are lined with simple wooden houses on stilts several meters high. Along the side of road and in the spaces between the stilts are all manner of things in a huge jumble, round bottom boats with cracked sides, motorbikes, tuk tuks, piles of fish traps, nets hung out to … Read the rest
The reddish brown dirt road is on an embankment, the sides sloping steeply down to the river a few meters below. Both sides of the road are lined with houses sitting on tall stilts, their floor often a foot or two above the street, with wooden gangways up to the door. The houses are simple wooden things, often looking like they’ve been cobbled together randomly. Wooden, round bottom boats are drawn up on land or float lazily in the shallow waters at the banks. The space beneath the houses, in between the stilts, is cluttered with nets, fish traps and … Read the rest
After our sunrise excursion yesterday we decided to let ourselves sleep as long as we wanted. We spent the morning shopping for handicrafts and taking care of various other things.
After lunch we called up our tuk tuk driver and set off to the temples one last time. We started with one called Preah Khan which is just north of Angkor Thom. It is in much worse shape than the others, with large piles of rubble, and whole rooms that are inaccessible. The parts that are still standing however have some beautiful carvings.
This place is absolutely massive, in fact it’s the largest building in the world, so it should be able to swallow massive amounts of visitors. Yet here I am, in the longest queue I’ve seen in more than two months of traveling. From the stairs leading up to the main stupa, it goes around the corner all the way along the north wall, down to the opposite side of the stupa. I don’t like standing in line but I can’t come to the most famous temple ruin in south east Asia and skip the main shrine, so here I stand…… Read the rest