Cambodia and Laos - February 2013 - Part 2

#1 Mar 29th, 2013, 08:58
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A short flight brings us to Siem Reap, a few kilometres south of Angkor Wat. It’s busy; very busy, with buses and tuktuks everywhere. We go to see sunset from Phnom Bakeng and have to queue for 45 minutes. Next morning we head to Angkor Thom and the crowds continue. In the afternoon we head further afield to one of the less popular temples and it’s much quieter and less crowded.



Angkor Wat is impressive for sure, if I could just see it beyond the people standing 30 deep in front of the reflecting pool. I head to the back of the complex and share breakfast with some monkeys and a French tour group while the sun rises behind me.




Angkor Wat



The crowds are worse than at the Taj Mahal and people pose for photos in front of everything interesting and a lot that isn’t. At Ta Phrom, the temple covered in tree roots, they have a wooden platform set up in front of the money shot. Ropes are there to guide people to form a line, but nobody does and it’s a free-for-all. I’m glad to have seen this ancient wonder but it’s not something I’d come back to.



Ta Phrom without anyone in front of it.


Another short flight takes us south to the beach town of Sihanoukville. We have a lovely bungalow on the beach but the pop music from the nearby bars goes on until 6:30AM. There’s an excellent Vietnamese BBQ place up the hill and we have a great meal and then immediately have another and we take one to go. Next morning we’re still full, and glad to leave the party scene behind and get on a slow boat out to the island of Koh Rong Samloem for 4 days of doing not much other than snorkel and drink cold Angkor beer.





Koh Rong Samloem




The bungalow accommodation is basic, but comfortable. There’s 4 hours of electricity from a generator each night and cold showers, which are a welcome relief in the heat. A gentle sea breeze makes sleeping quite pleasant. Two very well-nourished Tokay geckoes live behind the front light and sing us to sleep each night.





The road from Sihanoukville east to Kampot is one of the more scenic drives in Cambodia, passing through pastoral fields and little fishing villages – well worth splurging for a taxi ride rather than the bus.


enroute to Kampot



Kampot is an old French colonial town perched on the sandy banks of a river a few miles from the sea. Looming over it is Bokor National Park which rises some 4000 feet into the clouds. There’s an old French casino and the crumbling ruins of a large brick church at the top. There’s also a brand new gold and yellow concrete and glass casino and a huge housing development for the affluent who want to escape the heat at the seaside. Tigers and elephants are said to still roam the interior. Out by the new road we hear lots of birds and gibbons, too, although it’s easy to imagine them disappearing amid all this construction.




Wat in the clouds, Bokor National Park


On the coast to the south you’ll find the crab fishing village of Kep. The shore is lined with abandoned French holiday villas, their colourful concrete facades now peeling and mouldy. At the crab fishing port we have one of the best meals we’ve had in Cambodia. Fresh crab with Kampot pepper, squid, shrimp, rice and of course the huge Angkor beers we’ve come to expect. On the return journey we stop in at a salt farm where they evaporate sea water. Shallow rectangular pools spread out for as far as the eye can see and workers in conical hats rake the crystals into piles then carry them in reed baskets to a giant storehouse on the shore.






Salt farm, Kep



You can see more photos here
Last edited by Hal; Mar 29th, 2013 at 11:25..
#2 Mar 29th, 2013, 09:05
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Originally Posted by Hal View Post You can see more photos here
Thoroughly enjoyed the photographs. Some of them are truly wonderful. I am amazed at the crowds in front of the pond at Angkor Wat. Peak month for the crowd, with Chinese New year.
#3 Mar 29th, 2013, 11:16
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Just beautiful pictures, Hal. Thank you very much.
#4 Mar 29th, 2013, 18:13
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Originally Posted by Hal I’m glad to have seen this ancient wonder but it’s not something I’d come back to.
Pretty much how I felt about the place as well.
#5 Mar 29th, 2013, 22:48
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Ta Phrom without anyone in front of it.
One of my many memories of Angkor Wat was at Ta Phrom waiting for the sun to go down,just my wife, myself and one other guy,real spooky, getting darker and darker, seemed to me there was something special in the place, .Something I will remember for a long time.
Glad we went when we went,as it seems it no longer like that and better to keep it in my memories
#6 May 23rd, 2013, 14:28
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Splendid photos and writing, Hal, thank you so much.
#7 Sep 22nd, 2013, 10:17
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awesome... Cambodia is pulling me

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