05 February 2011


Hi everybody,
I thought it was about time to upload some photos from our recent trip to Cambodia and Laos. You can check out all the photos to go with the following drivel here.

Natalia and I flew to Phnom Penh with Brent, my workmate from DEC. Brent’s partner Karen met us at the airport, as she had been in Cambodia for 2 weeks working with primary school teachers and small kids. She had had a lot of stories to tell about the kids in the orphanages, including a few “cute, small ones” that she wanted to take home with her. She shared these stories with us over a few cheap cocktails at a pub overlooking the bustling streets and the Mekong. Brent and Karen were going directly to Laos the following morning so we bid them farewell on the colourful streets after admiring the local aerobics initiatives that took place along the esplanade.

Natalia and I caught the bus from PP to Siem Reap, the tourism hub of a town next to Angkor Wat. We spent 3 nights there, with one full day (sunrise to sunset) exploring the temples. Sunrise was spent at the main Angkor Wat temple, with the hordes of other tourists trying to get the ‘postcard shot’ of the temple silhouette and reflection pond. After jostling shoulders with everyone for about an hour, the sun rose and crowds dispersed throughout the massive network of stone buildings.

The morning tourist crowd for...

shots of the Angkor Wat silhouette

My favourite temple of the day was Bayon, with towers adorned with large, peaceful buddha-like faces smiling down at those walking through. The faces were even happy enough to trigger Natalia’s “smile detection” on her camera. I was also interested to see the photogenic orange-clad monks from the town coming to pay their respects to the temples. They were such a splash of colour against the monochrome buildings.

We had thought about riding bicycles between the temples but in hindsight were glad we chose to get a tuk-tuk driver as the temples are deceptively massive and 3-4km apart. We were both exhausted by the time we got to the last temple for sunset.

The rest of our time in Siem Reap was spent exploring the town, and escaping the very loud three-day wedding that was taking place next door to our accommodation. These are traditionally held at the house of one of the happy couple, and involved lots of loud music, chanting and speeches through what sounded like a megaphone. Although we couldn’t understand the words being spoken, Natalia and I were convinced at one point that a few scenes from “Monkey” were being played out – I guess drunk people with megaphones act the same all over the world.

At least the wedding was only during the daytime so we busied ourselves with the various cafes and shops around town. Cambodia in general seems to have a huge constituent of non-government organisations, so there are plenty of local artisans selling beautiful bits and pieces for their various organisations. I bought a few pieces of silver jewellery that contained brass from bullets and ordnances left over from the Vietnam War.

Our last morning at Siem Reap was spent doing a bird-nerd tour at a local lake. We saw 40 bird species in one morning, including 3 kingfishers, purple herons, whistling ducks... and some cute puppies in a basket (yes I know they aren't birds). Onwards for a flight to Luang Prabang, Laos, where we met up again with Brent and Karen.

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