CAMBODIA

I found Cambodia to be one of the most fascinating and enjoyable countries I have been to.  It is a country that comes at you from every direction the second you step across the border or get off the plane.  You'll find beggars and entrepreneurs, tourist ghettos and sleepy villages.  Cambodia may be well known but few look past the beauty of Angkor Wat or the horrors of the Khmer Rouge to see the real Cambodia of small fishing boats, young fruit sellers and dusty boulevards.



 
 
 
 
The picture to the left is me at Ta Phrom temple, one of the temples in the Angkor complex outside of Siem Reap, Cambodia.  This temple has been left as it was when rediscovered by the French at the turn of the century while the other temples are being cleared of jungle growth and restored.  The trees that grow in, over, and around Ta Phrom are massive; the one behind me reached up another 3 stories or so above what is visible in the picture. This temple can be seen in the movie Tomb Raider.

 
 
 
 

 


 
 
 

It's hard to describe the killing fields.  Just a short motorcycle outside the capital of Phnom Penh is a quiet area that would appear to be just a field pockmarked by holes in which cattle graze if it weren't for the large stupa in the center filled with some 8000 skulls.  These are the remains of those buried in some 40 of the mass graves that have been excavated, approximately 40 more remain graves untouched at the Chung Ek killing fields.  Today child beggars frequent the site hoping for a "pen or dollar" from the foreign visitors.
Below and right are also from Angkor.  Below is Bantaey Srei Temple which is located about 45 minutes motorcycle ride outside of the Angkor complex.  Built of red sandstone, it has a very different look than the rest of the temples and is well worth the extra effort to visit.  Don't be disappointed when you first arrive and see how small it is, the beauty is in the detailed and well preserved carvings the cover the temple.

To the right is Bayon temple, covered in hundreds of serene faces, walking through here alone is an eerie experience.  Along with Angkor Wat and Ta Phrom, this is one of the main temples of Angkor.

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(Background image courtesy of Angkor Wat postcard)