Monday, 16 July 2007

Qi est la daddy?

GRRRR!!!! Sometimes computers make you so mad you could maim a small passing kitten. This is one time. Because of some damn Cambodian computer I lost ALL of my Cambodian photos. There were some damn fine ones in there too. Anyway I've stolen Tom and Haya's so all is not lost, we had been to pretty much the same places anyway. It's just that my photos are my photos and well, this rant is going nowhere

Angkor Wat silhoutted against the sunrise. (Photo courtesy of Tom)

Bayon, the temple with all the crazy carved faces. Loved it. (Photo courtesy of Tom)

Francisco, our Chilean friend, shows us how they riot in his home country. (Photo courtesy of Tom)

Life is hard (again). On the right is my hebrew teacher, Haya. I have learnt how to tell Tom he has a stupid beardy face. (Photo courtesy of Haya)

Everyone loves a cheeky monk shot. (Photo courtesy of Haya)

Our reunion with Paul. We now all sport Changbands. Some would call them matching bracelets but that makes us sound like a bunch of French dukes, and this we are not. Well sometimes we are not.
(Photo courtesy of Tom)

I think the very first travel photo of me and Nick in Heathrow airport looks like this except that we have no hair and are very pale. Now look at us. We are hairy hobos.

The bumping into random people from home continues. The two girls on the left, I used to go to uni with. Met them in Chang Mai, Thailand and then southern Cambodia. Small world etc. bla bla bla

Angkor, I would be an idiot to try and sum that place up in words. It would just be a paragraph of wow, spectacular, ancient, grand majestic etc. and we don't want that.

So, yes Angkor and it's many ancient ruins and temples was all of the aforementioned superlatives and more. Getting up at 4am to see the sunrise was even worthwhile and I am a man who hates early mornings with vehement passion. Of course, it wasn't as simple as getting up early for a gentle cycle over to Angkor Wat, because after about 15 mins of riding the chain on my bike broke. Which meant a mad dash back to the hotel in a tuk-tuk, dump the bike, get back in the tuk-tuk and hope to get there in time. Which I did. Just. I think all the high pitched oo's and aah's of the hundreds of Japanese and Koreans around us when the sun appeared were apt.

A brief history lesson: Angkor was effectively the capital of the Khmer Empire 1000 ish years ago. (Give or take a couple of 100 years, I can't be bothered to wikipedia it right now). When London was merely a young whippersnapper on the world circuit with a population of 50'000, Angkor boasted 1 million. Over the course of several hundred years, temples were built; Buddhist temples, Hindu Temples, big ones, small ones, some with such intricate detail on such a massive scale that it is bewildering. One of my favourites was Bayon, which was massive in itself and was home to over 200 large carved stone faces.

Siem Reap (the base town for seeing Angkor) also taught us that myself, Nick and Tom should probably not share a room for 4 days ever again. The room may have passed as a hotel room when we entered it but it was probably a biohazard when we left it. Festering would be a good word to sum it up. So would stale. I have to hold my hands up and take a large share of the blame here, I was a bit ill one day and as a result sweated my own body weight during the night. Back home, if this were the case, one might change their bedsheets. I just changed the end I slept down the next night. Living the dream...

After Siem Reap was Cambodia's capital Phnom Penh. We spent a day at the Killing Fields and S-21 both stark reminders of the tyrannical reign of Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge from 1975-79. In a nutshell, the man wanted to start society over again, from the beginning, meaning that he intended to turn every Cambodian into an agricultural worker, farming the land. A lot of Cambodian people were killed by their own countrymen, e.g. anyone considered too intelligent was murdered, which quite often meant just wearing glasses could get you 'disappeared'. One line that I took from the Killing Fields was "they have the human form, but their hearts are demon hearts", in reference to the Khmer Rouge.

Oh yeah, I'm now a card shark. Won a game of poker the other night that started off with 13 people. Went a bit flash with the winnings and bought drinks for anyone that wanted one. Then the money left over paid off my guesthouse bill the next day. Who says gambling is a mugs game?

Now we've made it back to the beaches, we're in Sihanoukville, in the south of Cambodia, just before we head into 'Nam. Somehow, we've managed to go over a month without a peaceful stretch of sand in sight. I say peaceful, it becomes less so when small children are convinced that you will buy whatever trinkets they are selling if they ask you enough times. And then the Cambodian equivalent of Tom Farmer minces past you wanting to manicure your nails. Still, a beach is a beach.

Anything else? The phrase "what's he doing in there, reading War and Peace?" is now redundant as that is exactly what Tom is doing in there. I am learning a few lines of hebrew from our latest travel buddy, Haya. So far, (and without looking in my book), one of the best things I can say is 'Az ma? At baa lepo hrbe?' Which means 'So? Do you some here often?' Bars of Israel look out, lines that good are like a lethal weapon in my hands...

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