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Cambodia - Siem Reap and Phnom Penh

sunny 31 °C
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We are nearing the end of our trip now :-(. We were a little dubious about Cambodia after stories we had read about robberies and pickpockets but it wasn't half as bad as we thought! There may have been a few too many tuktuk drivers hassling us and beggars and children wanting money but I think visiting Cambodia has been one of the most eyeopening experiences of the whole trip. Cambodia is a country that is still recovering from the atrocities commited by the Khmer Rouge in 1975 and therefore is one of the poorest countries we have visited. Never the less, the Khmer people we met in the hotels and even the tuk tuk drivers were nothing but friendly. They are just trying to earn a living after all!
Our first stop - Siem Reap - was a great place and a lot more lively than we had expected. There was a pub street that was actually called 'Pub Street' with loads of bars and restaurants. There was also a fantastic night market selling some really nice clothes and gifts. On the first day we were there we went to Angkor Wat - the biggest temple area in the world and has been branded the 8th wonder of the world - a must see. Although we only spent a day there (you could get a 3day and 7day ticket), we just about had enough time (and energy!) to see all the main temples. Even though most were ruined we could still see the intricate stone work and magnificent towers. We hired out a tuktuk driver for the whole day and he took us to each temple for only £6!
That evening, after having a delicious Khmer meal at the hotel, we went to the night market bar we'd spotted the night before, only this time we made it in time for happy hour! So we got some yummy cocktails then enjoyed 33pence a pint beer. We also made friends with two girls from Japan!

The second day we hired bikes for free from hotel and cycled to the Genocide memorial - Wat Themi. We tried to sneak back into Angkor Wat but couldn't as we didn't have tickets. On our way back to the hostel, we were caught in a torrential rainstorm and got soaked!
After drying off though we went onto pub street where Wayne ordered beef with red ants! It tasted a bit odd but wasn't unpalatable! We also ordered some yummy frozen cocktails! Then we went onto another bar for 33pence beers and free popcorn! Think Anna might have had a little too much as she was ill later that night - it was either that or the ants!

The day after we made our way to Phnom Penh on a mini bus - the most luxurious way we have travelled over land on the trip! Although the minibus was comfortable, the journey definitely wasn't! The distance - 153km at home would have taken just over 2 hours, whereas here it took 5 because the roads were attrocious! Potholes left right and centre - anyone would think we'd gone off-roading!
We eventually made it to our hotel in Phnom Penh - Me mates place and went to explore the capital. We looked round Wat Phnom and took the walking tour from our guide book. At certain points we felt a bit vulnerable but we made it back to the hotel safely without being pickpocketed or scammed!
That evening we went to the river front for a meal and drinks.

Today we visited the Killing Fields (Choeung Ek) and S-21 (Tuol Sleng). It was such an overwhelming and emotional experience especially for Anna who had studied this genocide at university. It was shocking to actually be in the fields where so many innocent people were tortured and died. S-21 was perhaps more chilling as there were still the torture instruments and iron beds there. Nevertheless, we could not have come to Phnom Penh without acknowleding and learning about its past.

Tonight we will enjoy our last night in Phnom Penh before making our way back to Happy Dragon Hostel in Beijing!

This may be our last blog entry before we return home so we hope you've enjoyed reading about our experiences and mishaps and look forward to hearing more details when we're home!!

Thanks for reading

Anna and Wayne xx

Posted by wayneanna 04:39 Archived in Cambodia

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