Friday, 30 August 2013

Goodbye Cambodia

Well, since August 3rd were are now in Thailand. Time to update our blog !

We already told you about the brutal slash-and-burn policy. Day for day we cycled along these spaces. It is really sad. This was the reason why we enjoyed the elephant valley project so much. The forest in the area of Sen Monorom was destroyed, too, but it had time to grow. The elephants now live in their natural area, looking for food, taking a bath in the river. Amazing! 

We wanted to cycle from Kratie to Phnom Phen, but on the bus trip to the elephant valley I got an bad inflammtaion of my ears with high temperature for days. I had to take antibiotics so it made no sense to sit on a bike. Kratie is the provincial capital, small, dirty, some temples and less restaurants.It was raining every day, sometimes for hours and we spent most of our time in the small hotel room. The atmosphere was like in a prison. The evening before when we wanted to start to Phnom Phen by bus, we met Michael and Kavita from Germany. They run a small resort on an island in Cambodia and it was their first holiday for the last 5 years. They have a VW bus and they invited us to join them on the way to the capital. Yeah , no reason to hesitate ! Knowing, that our bikes will have a safe transport and I won´t have to sit in a bloody bus with too less space for my legs made us really happy ! We had a funny trip to P.P. , and Kavita and Michael are very nice people. We stayed in the same hotel and had two good days.
As you know, in the 70ies of the last century the „Khmer Rouge“ 
( ( with their chief Pol Pot terrorized the country. between 1.5 to 2 million people were tortured and killed. You can visit „S21“, the torture prison and the „killing fields“ , but we decided not do this. We know from Kavita, that it will makes you so depressive.

Due to the fact that we only had a 30 day-visa we took a bus to Siem Reap for visiting Angkor Wat ( the „mother of all tempels“ . If you have visited Angkor, you will not visit no more other temples. Ok, small joke :-) it is gorgeous ! 

So amazing, so impressing !!!! 

it is the national proud of Cambodia. Even on the flag there is a part of the temple.
There are roughly 3Million visitors per year, but we had good luck, it is low season and no problems with too many visitors. We took our bikes for doing sight-seeing. The area is so large, one day we did 40 km, then 20 km and 15km during our 3-day-ticket.
The ruins are very interesting. They tell so many stories about wars, daemons, heroes, living of the farmers, they are written in sandstone. Angkor Wat is only one of all the temples but the absolutley holy place..... It was built in 1100 A.D. It was built as a Hindu temple, but later adapted to Buddhism.
Ta Phrom is one of these temples which has only a small maintenance. The jungle takes the temple back. Roots are growing into the stones and break them. This fascinating atmosphere was used in the movies „Indiana Jones“ and „Tomb Raider“. The German GIZ and the University of Cologne are helping to restore the stones.

Angkor Thom is the temple with big faces, looking to the jungle. Expressive faces, silently monitoring the surroundings.

The Ta Nai temple was very beautiful, too. In a short documentary we got information about the
restoration. There were no other tourists, except two travellers from Austria. A tropical rain started and made the enchanted atmosphere perfectly.
Three days seeing stones... well, honestly in one of my dreams during the night, I lived in a ruined castle, all around me only stones. No joke ! :-)

Another highlight for me was to visit my second godchild in the SOS Children´s Village (
in Siem Reap. Dun is 6 years old and lives with his brother and his sister in a nice family. We bought a soccer ball, Nutella and some apples. As in Bishkek/Kyrgyzstan, this village is well-organised and the children have a good life there.

We went by boat to Battambang. First we crossed the Lake Tonle Sap, the largest in South-East-Asia. He has many fishes and it is caused by an amazing effect. The lake has only one drain, which leads to the river Mekong. In dry season the river flows into the Mekong. During rainy season, the lake has so many inflows from the Mekong and other rivers or creeks.
People living there built floating villages. swimming houses, markets and instead of motobikes, boats.
When we entered the boat we had been the only passengers. An hour later and on the river there were more and more people coming onto the boat. Totally overcrowded. Astrid spent the trip on the roof, ignoring the heavy rain. I spent the time in a narrow seat, too small for my long legs.

The last highlight in Cambodia was the „bambootrain“, the only railtrack in the country. There is no more official use, but some sections are opened for tourists. Small bamboo platforms with a little engine , highspeed 30km/h. So funny ! There is only one track, so if there is oncoming traffic, one train is demount, the other can pass, and then the plattform with wheels back on the track.

The last kilometer we cycled to the border. When we looked for a place to sleep, we always searched for a bamboo hut or even a guesthouse. There are still many landmines close to the road and many times there was heavy rain. 

Unfortunetly Cambodia is very dirty. There is no apprehension for trash management. And poverty is no excuse for throwing all the garbage into the landscape. Food on the road was hard to find. Only cookies and chips. Better food only in the supermarkets in Siem Reap and Phnom Penh.

Cambodia was a great experience, too. Poor, but very friendly and loughing people, despite the horrible history. I will come back, but I do not know, when.

We crossed the border to Thailand, and it began to be so different ! But this in our next blog.

Mekong bicycle trail, with signs !

slash and burn. what a shame !

one-room apartment.

no pyjama ! funny fashion, which many women wear :-)

limbs and prosthesis in Siem Reap

Bamboo Train

very friendly people at the Bamboo Train Station

a little bit of rain ;-)

Giom and Felix, we met them in Bishkek, now in Siem Reap. so great !

boat to Battambang. overcrowded

they remove landmines

our house for one night, protecting us from heavy rain.

still alive, but they sold it fried ! we did not tast it !!!

lifting tool

band of landmine victims

ice-supply for the smaller shops