United Kingdom, Cambodia · 5 Days · 7 Moments · March 2017

Faraway Fred - South East Asia & India

8 March 2017

After having a day to explore Pnom Penh, it was now time to go on a very important day trip. For both of us, we had never learned the dark history that surrounds Cambodia. We knew we had to visit the Killing Fields and the S-21 Genocide Museum to gain a greater understanding of the country we were travelling through. We visited the museum first by Tuk Tuk and made our way into the prison. It would be difficult to put into words how you feel walking through rooms that were used to terrorise innocent people during the Khmer Rouge regime, but all I can say is how well the museum is put together. The way the audio tour illustrates what went on there is incredible and it goes some way to helping you try and understand it. Nevertheless, after spending around 3 hours there, we moved onto the Killing Fields, an equally harrowing experience. 20 minutes outside the city, again, I think the photos above will paint a better picture better than words.

7 March 2017

In the evening we went to meet a friend of Katya's that she met whilst volunteering. She was from Italy and was staying in a very nice hotel with her boyfriend that had a sky bar overlooking the city. We had few drinks there and then moved on to meet a couple who we were sharing a room with in the hostel. They were sat at a bar called 'Viva' with a few other travellers from around the world. All of them were older than us, with the eldest, a man from South Africa in his sixties, who was looking to open a bar in Sihanoukville. It was pretty interesting listening to their stories as the night went on and also realising that a lot of travellers aren't just the ones on their 'gap yah'.
Today we had another early morning as we needed to leave Siem Reap and catch a 5 hour bus to the capital, Pnom Penh. Our hostel there couldn't have been more different to the one we had just left, no music and barely any other people around. We dropped our bags off and had a wander to find some lunch, although we found it to be far more expensive than Siem Reap, pretty much double at around $4/$5 each. Of course it's still incredibly cheap compared to back home, but when you've been used to paying $2 for a meal for the past 3 days, you can become quite picky!

6 March 2017

... It turned out that our decision to go into the temple early was a good one. Once we returned to the two ponds, most people had left, giving us the opportunity to take a picture of the rising sun and temple reflecting off its waters. For the next few hours, we explored the 3 other major temples in the complex, including 'Ta Prohm', or as our driver called it, 'Tomb Raider', due to its appearance in the Angelina Jolie film. By around 10am we were both pretty hot and definitely templed out for the day. We returned to the hostel for showers and a long sleep to catch up on our early start.
On just a couple hours of sleep, Kat and I woke up at 4am so we could return to Angkor Wat and watch the sunrise. Arriving at the temple, it was pitch black, so we had to follow the hordes of tourists using torches and head lamps. The best seats in the house behind the two small ponds outside the temple were already taken, so we took ourselves to sit by the grass beside it and waited. Over the next 40 minutes or so it got progressively lighter, but there was no sign of the sun itself. At this point, Kat and I thought that that was it, and therefore, in a bid to get in ahead of the crowds, left to go and explore the temple. After walking through all the various paths and clearings we got to the steps that lead to the very top and into the central tower. The steps up were extremely steep and had both of us clutching onto the railings and not looking down until we got to the top. However once we did, it was then that we saw the emerging sunrise...

5 March 2017

"Have you been to Angkor Wat yet?" "Oh, you mean the bar on Pub Street?" This overheard conversation pretty much sums up the hostel we stayed in whilst Kat and I were in Siem Reap. You could easily drop it in Kavos and it would very much be at home. Even so, in answer to the initial question, we hadn't been to Angkor Wat yet and today we intended to do so. We booked a Tuk Tuk driver to take us to see the temples at sunset and then to return at 4:30am the next day to take us to sunrise. He collected us at around 4pm and took us to the ticket office, where only a couple of weeks ago, they had hiked the price of a day pass up from just $20 to $37. Luckily we both had enough money to cover it. It was about a 20 minute Tuk Tuk ride out to see 'Angkor Wat' the main temple within the vast complex. When we arrived we were met by thousands of tourists from all over the world, however this didn't ruin the experience. A stunning sunset followed over the temple entrance as we watched on in awe.

3 March 2017

Although I've just completed my first week away in South East Asia, I have finally found the time to try and give an update on what I've been doing. So, firstly I'll rewind a week and begin on the 4th March: After around 26 hours of travelling, from Hilperton to Siem Reap, I finally touched down in Cambodia. Along the way I met up with Katya at Bangkok airport, and we took what possibly was the shortest flight ever across the boarder and into Cambodia. We had barely finished completing our visa papers by the time we landed in Siem Reap! From there, we got a taxi into town, arriving at our hostel, 'Funky Flashpackers'. Music was already pumping through the walls and their pool was full of travellers, most of which looked a lot older (and far more tanned) than us. Though due to Kat being very hungover from her last night in Bangkok and I having had just a couple hours sleep, we decided to steer clear of the music and to plan our next few days in the town.