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Monday, 30 January 2012

cambodia and onwards

Just completed our two weeks in cambodia and loved every second of it, temples, beaches and more crazy bus drivers!!!

Silver Pagoda
Gemma suitably dressed!
We crossed from Ho Chi Min city over to Phenom Phen where we frantically rushed around trying to see everything in the two days we had. For those who don't know, Cambodia had a civil war in 1975 which lead to the entire population of Phenom Phen being moved out of the city and into the coutryside for reeducation and forced manual labour for 16hours of every day. Those people deemed to be enemies of the state (anyone who was educated) were gradually captured and detained inside a terrible prison known as S21. Of the 20,000 people plus who entered the prison only 6 survived. The rest were tortured to death in the most horrific fashion. The prison has been pretty much left in the same state as it was then, blood stains still evident on floors and walls. The experience was pretty depressing as you can imagine but interesting non-the-less. It is always shocking to know quite how deep humanity can sink. The total number of people killed by the Kumer Rouge regime is still unkown but is estimated between one and three million. One statistic suggests that one in every five Cambodians were killed during this period. After this rather harrowing experience we required some entertainment of a slightly more light hearted nature, so we went to the cinema and watch 'The Imortals.' For those of you unaware of this film it is two hours of gratuitous violence and killing, although Gemma found solace in the rather limited wardrobe of the entire male cast! We took in some culture at the Silver Palace which contrary to its name it is in fact a whole complex of beautiful palaces and temples well worth seeing. Gemma was deemed to be under dressed for the occasion despite being almost entirely covered up and had to resort to wearing one of my t-shirts. On the way to lunch one day we decided to take a slightly different route and found ourselves walking down an alleyway, which unfortunately turned out to be 'dog meat alley' (our name not theirs). There were some dalmations in cages, even more on spits and some being prepared. Obviously its a cultural thing and I'll try most things while we're out here but I draw the line a dog. We both felt thoroughly sick.

First glimpse of Paradise
on our way to deserted beach
We jumped on a bus down to the south coast for some beach and party time. We spent a week here, soaking up the sun and meeting plenty of really cool people. We managed to get out to one of the secluded islands off the Cambodia coast for three days. We couldn't get any tickets and thought that we would be stuck on the mainland but in a last ditch attempt to find a agent with space, we ran into a Portuguese couple who had resorted to booking a four person bungalow and seemed more than happy to share having only met us for ten seconds. Thankfully they weren't crazy and we ended up having a really lovely time with them. We did some coasteering to reach a deserted 8km stretch of beach. We found out the next day that there was a jungle path that would have proven much easier but so much less fun! The sand was pure white and the sea was turquoise and crystal clear. The resort name was 'Paradise Beach Bungalows' a title we thought it richly deserved. We tried our hand at scuba diving which was good fun even if the water was slightly less clear further out to sea. In an attempt to make the most of the time on the island we left it a bit tight to get our bus that evening. This wasn't helped by the fact that when we turned up to leave our boat was broken and not going anywhere. In typical Cambodian fashion they cobbled together another plan and plonked us on the 'blue boat,' a notoriously slow and rickety old boat that none of the dive staff wanted to get onto.

The sea was choppy so we got absolutely soaked for the following three hours and there was more than one occassion when we thought the boat would simply capsize. We arrived back in port in the pitch black with only 25minutes to get back to our hostel. We did make it back with two minutes to spare and celebrated with a beer having been told to sit down and wait for our bus which was apparently running late and would be with us soon! Forty minutes later we were in a tuktuk speeding after the bus, which in fact wasn't late and had already left without us! The bus stopped to let us on and thus started the night bus grand prix!!!!!!!

as seen in tomb raider
angkor watt at a very early sunrise

some proper temple scrambling 
Angkor watt from afar
We arrived in Siem Reap having survived yet another night of being thrown around in our reclined seats. The last one for quite a while. The insane part of us is feeling quite sad, the other part massively relieved that we'd survived. Siem Reap was really lovely and our hotel was the cleanest we had stayed in for a long time. Our room did resemble a fish tank for everyone to see in but did have the most comfortable bed so far. The temples of Angkor absolutely blew our minds. Angkor Wat was truely astounding.

Now we are in Bangkok, taking in the sights sounds and smells of the city. The street food is proving to be very enjoyable and even more importantly extremely cheap. We made some new friends on our epic journey across the border and have already had some very silly and drunken nights out. We catch our flight to Borneo in two days and will be very sad to be leaving this part of Asia. We are however very much looking forward to another stay in Singapore airport and another part of our little adventure.

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