Monday, November 14, 2011


We're leaving for Ho Chi Minh city tomorrow so I thought I'd write the Cambodia update while still actually in the country. I don't know that the rest of India will ever make an appearance here. Anna writes email updates which covered all of that so if anyone wants in on those just let one of us know.

We flew into Siem Reap where we spent about five days enjoying 50c beers and roti-style pancakes with banana and condensed milk. In between eating and drinking we managed to see Angkor Wot at sunrise, an amazing spectacle that was only slightly diminished by sharing it with thousands of other Western tourists. Even after the temple overload in south India, Angkor was stunning. I particularly liked the Bayon, a temple covered in hundreds of sculpted faces ostensibly of the god Avalokiteshvara, but looking suspiciously like Jayavarman VII, the Khmer king who ordered its construction. Even more amazing was Ta Prohm, an abandoned temple which is slowly being taken back by the forest. There are huge trees growing right out of its walls and pagodas, their roots reaching down like hands clasping the crumbling stone structures. 

From Siem Reap we took a day trip to a floating village called Kompong Phlukk. The houses here are built atop 5m high stilts which keep them from being submerged by the flood waters of the massive Tonle Sap lake. We went in the wet season, where all transport us by boat and the water comes right up to the floorboards. In the dry season the lake vanishes and there are roads between the houses which sit two stories above the ground. 

After Siem Reap we went to Phnom Penh where we spent my birthday visiting the killing fields and the former S-21 prison. We knew about the atrocities that happened at these places, but it was still overwhelmingly sad to be there and see the sites where such terrible things happened. I don't want to dwell on it here but it really was horrible.

Next stop was Kep, a small seaside town full of abandoned buildings from its former life as a resort town before the civil war. The main draw here is the crab market where we watched old women harvesting, cooking, and selling the crabs. I tried some crabs fried with fresh Kampot green pepper and they were delicious. 

After Kep we came to Kampot, a sleepy riverside town where we've done very little but sit around and soak up the relaxed atmosphere in anticipation of he chaos of Saigon. The highlight (and, judging by Trip Advisor, the town's main tourist attraction) has been the pork ribs at a local pub called the Rusty Keyhole.

That's all for now, see you in Vietnam!