Well, the Excellent Missus and I are back from Cambodia, in one piece and without throttling each other. Some pictures first, then a quick summary…
When I left off we were in Sihanoukville, where we stayed in a basic bungalow overlooking a beautiful beach. Fair to say I’m not a big tanner: I’m so white, I make 47-year-old Michael Jackson look like 10-year-old Michael Jackson. Despite that, I really enjoyed hanging out under a massive tree on the beach, swimming, reading, and hassling kids selling bracelets by asking them why they weren’t in school.
Sadly there was a steady procession of amputees, mothers and children, and kids all begging. It was a scene that repeated itself wherever we went. I have travelled a fair bit through Asia and Africa, and Cambodia was one of the poorest places I have been.
We continued up to Siem Reap, another town that I grimly expected to be tacky and crammed with tourists. It was certainly busy, but it was also a great town to hang out in.
Of course the main attraction is the temples. Lots and lots of temples. Having set out at 8am on the first day, by lunchtime the Excellent Missus and I were both exhausted. It was hot and dusty and already the temples were blurring into one big pile of rocks. We hadn’t even made it to Angkor Wat when we decided to call it a day.
But 5am the next morning we set out again to watch the sunrise, and it was suitably spectacular. Most tourists took off back to bed, so we had the run of the enormous temple complex to ourselves. It is a staggering place, and a shame that unlike the temples themselves, the Cambodian gift for massive, tasteful and lasting architectural projects has never been rediscovered.
More to come…