Thursday, May 22, 2008

visiting cambodia episode I: reflections

Just came back but already, I am still feeling excited over the idea of travelling. Next on my list? Starting small: Sabah, Sarawak, Labuan, Vietnam, Bangkok, Singapore and Hong Kong!


Last Saturday, I travelled to a small country in Southeast Asia called Cambodia. And here is my short account of my trip. Of course, there will be a few more posts coming up.

The plane ride was only a short two hours but damn those Air Asia seats. So freaking uncomfortable - 90 degrees angle ok? I don't know who can freaking sleep in those seats.

DAY 1~

We arrived in the late afternoon so there weren't much sightseeing to do. Pic shows me camwhoring in our hotel room. Oh, we did go to a shopping mall nearby the hotel. Guide says it's the largest mall in Cambodia. Wth? It is only 6 storeys high. Did copped a pair of sunglasses, btw, for USD3.

Here is a tip for those planning to go Cambodia. Try not to change too much of your money into the local currency, rials, coz almost everything is in US Dollars, but you might want to save those rials for donations.

DAY 2~

*Tour of Phnom Penh capital

*Visited the Royal Palace, Independence Monument, Toul Sleng Genocide Museum

*Shopping at Russian Market and Central Market

*Cruise on the intersection between four rivers

DAY 3~

*6 hours bus ride to Siem Reap

*Ate hairy tarantulas, water cockroaches and stuffed frogs

*Visited the ancient bridge

*Tour around Les Artisans Angkor to take a look at Cambodian handicrafts

*Hike up to Baekheng Hill for a piece of Angkor ruins

*Buffet dinner with Cultural Show at Amazon Angkor

DAY 4~

*Visited the world famous Angkor ruins, includes Angkor Wat, Ta Prohmn temple, Bayon temple, Elephant Terrace, Leper King terrace, etc.

DAY 5~

*Back to Malaysia in the afternoon. Time difference is Cambodia is behind one hour than Msia.

Btw, I took this pic of our tour bus. We were really grateful to our bus driver who drove us from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap, along bumpy and dangerous roads.

The status of the roads in Cambodia are so bad that even when it rained just for a while, the roads would be flooded.

Dangerous would be because anyone who wants to drive a motorcycle do not need any license at all.

Yes, that means one is allowed to ride a motorcycle regardless of what age you are. Which is why you can see loads of motorcycles along the roads.

And I think motorcycle helmets are also a rare commodity here.

Often you will see families riding dangerously like these. Also you will see vans and lorries packed with people, up to 30 at one time too.

Ok, don't think I am a jakun just because I took pic of KFC. FYI, this is the only KFC outlet in the whole of Cambodia. In fact, McD's and Pizza Hut are of non-existence here.

This is probably my fave pic of all the photos I took in Cambodia. From what I can see, I think she has kwasyiorkor, lack of protein in her blood, hence the bloated stomach but what do I know? I scored a C+ in Anatomy and Physiology.
There were many children like these in Cambodia, all malnourished, dirty-looking and mostly begging at the tourists for money and food.

Where were their parents, I wondered? But I think I know. Why else would these kids beg if it wasn't because their family ask them to. And why not? Us foreigners always tend to pity children more than adults.

It is indeed sad.

Along the river cruise, we passed by a row of villages. Well, I would not really call them villages. Their houses consist of huts on top of boats.

I am ashamed of myself, always complaining of this and that. Here, clean water is so scarce. They wash, clean, shit, urinate and even drink from the river water. Can you believe the state they are in?

The cruise
along the river was really boring, but what made it unforgettable were those kids smiling and waving at us as our boat passed by them. One kid kept waving so excitedly at us that he even fell down.

Btw, this is the kid who joined on our boat ride. Cute no?

A small group of children were looking at us curiously when we were sightseeing the ancient bridge. Language is a barrier so I just pointed at the camera, hoping they understood that I wanted to take a pic with them. The little one, er, kinda did not get it. Hehe.

Primary school children only learn how to read and write in the Khmer language. Only when they go to secondary school, they learn English and French. Those who wish to study further usually must be extremely fluent in French.

Every time you visited a tourist spot, you can never missed all the children, women and men swarming at you, hoping you will purchase the merchandises that they are offering.

At first, you feel sorry for them. But then, it can get very annoying.

Like one time, when I came out of the public restroom at Angkor Wat, a small-sized boy came up to me, offering some postcards/travel books. Spoke to me in Mandarin, "10 dollars, 10 dollars!" he said.

I kindly told him that I was not interested but he kept smiling at me, persuading me to buy.

He even followed me all the way back to the bus. I really thought he was annoying and was even afraid that he might stalk me, or worse, snatch my bag.

Then, just as I was about to board the bus, he say "bye" to me, smiling still.

Yes, so sweeett. I was so taken aback by his sweet gesture that I forgot to take pic of him. Kinda regret I did not buy from him. That sweet kid.

Made me feel so guilty pulak.

In all honesty, I can say that Cambodia is not as a beautiful place as other countries that I have been, namely China, Korea and Australia. But what they lacked in scenery, they make up for it in the people, especially the children.

Yes, what truly made this trip unforgettable for me, was my encounter with the some of the good people of Cambodia. Seeing those children do overwhelmed me, though, to see the state and the poverty that they are in.

How truly lucky we are, and yet we do not appreciate it.
Having said that, Cambodia is not really that bad. It is also a photographer's paradise, esp at the Angkor ruins. We saw many professional photographers there and yes, there were even models there.

One in particular, was a Thai hottie. Ah, eye candy in Cambodia *smirks*

Dunno why, but seeing those photographers reminded me of Ben. Haha. I can just imagined him asking us to pose, adjusting his camera equipment, looking for akward angles, etc.

Maybe I should suggest Cambodia as a honeymoon getaway for him and Li-Shia?


Anonymous said...

Apa niii...Suddenly my name appear...haha.

-BOH (Ben's Other Half)

FIFIONA said...

happy or not? ok, i will accept my pay now (for advertising your name). hahaha...

Anonymous said...

great blog.. especially if the first song is by david cook.. ahehehe... just searching for blogs about cambodia.. hope to see it myself someday.. have a great day

FIFIONA said...

hey carlota, thanks for checking out my cambodia post. yup, the place is great, you should reallg go check it have a great day too:)



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