Will and Mayang's Travels - Cambodia, August 2004

Cambodia is a poor country.  Transport is overcrowded, and at this time of the year, much of the fertile rice-growing land is underwater due to the monsoon.

First stop on our trip was the famous 'Angkor Wat' temple area.  It's about 800 years' old, but since then it was abandoned and the rainforest went wild, growing around and on top of the temples.  Some has been cleared, but some remains.

Near the temples, some monks (Cambodia is a predominantly buddhist country) were drying their washing, bright orange against the banana tree background.  Very artistic!

One rainy day, we saw some local people had taken a mosquito net and turned it into a fishing net.  The roadside drainage river was overflowing and they were catching lots of fish.

To get around the temples, which are spread over many kilometers, we hired a motorbike driver each.  They also doubled up as translators and guides.  Mayang clearly enjoyed her motorbike transport, and often passed for a 'local'.

One day we stopped at a roadside restaurant and rested in the hammocks.  We were satisfied with vegetable fried rice, but our motorbike drivers preferred snake eggs!

We also visited the people living in houseboats on and near the huge 'Tonle Sap' lake.  Some parent has told this kid to go and play outside, so they made a boat out of a washing tub!

Next stop was Phnom Penh, the capital.  Mayang did some running and checked her weight in front of the royal palace on a portable scales (common in Cambodia and Vietnam).

Phnom Penh means 'Penh's hill'.  The hill is inside the city, and on top is a temple with lots of candles.    We also saw traditional fortunetelling (no picture) where you put a book of sayings on your head and insert a pencil without looking.  The page is then read by a priest and interpreted.

We caught up on the local news and ate some food.  The food in Phnom Penh was excellent, especially the European food.  It's probably the French influence.  The European food was the best I've had in South-East Asia.  Not only that, but the people are some of the nicest and friendliest people I have ever met.  If countries succeeded by being friendly and hardworking, Cambodia would lead the world.

One culinary delight we weren't so impressed with were the deep fried spiders.

For some panoramic photos of Cambodia, see http://www.willsmith.org/pano/cambodia/

All pictures and other media are Copyright ©2004 William Owen Smith and Mayang Adnin.