Phnom Pehn, Cambodia
Ok, now we are really in Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia for some R&R. Kinda like a mini- vacation for Kim. All we had to do on Saturday was rest, relax, visit the sites, and Oh, yes Kim had to go to the local hospital to get the rest of her immunization shots. You know, rabies, typhoid, yellow fever. The usual fair for a tropical paradise.
So after a nice luxurious breakfast on the terrace of the Asia Tune Hotel. Yes, that is in fact the same one that I had booked the reservations at for my arrival in Cambodia, but I booked it a day earlier. But now, I was right on the money –time wise.
We caught a tuk-tuk right out front of the hotel. We went directly to the hospital figuring we should get the most fun things out of the way first. Kim was thrilled to find out that indeed she only had to have one shot, and not the multiples that she had planned/dreaded on. An hour later and we were off to visit the sites. The first place we went was the Tuil Sleng Museum. Just your average high school that was turned into a torture camp during the Khmer Rouge. Like the Nazis, they also kept meticulous records of their victims. When the Vietnamese army liberated them (yes, that is the same army that we fought) in 1979, there were only 7 prisoners left alive! It seems that the only ones that made it were artists and photographers that could help document the torture. These paintings and photographers are plastered all over this ghost of a high school.
Truely saddened by this visit, we decided to try something more upbeat in the form a the Royal Palace & Silver Pagoda. Lonely Planet calls it a “oasis of calm with lush gardens and leafy havens.” Visiting the actual temples was my least favorite part. Just wondering around, taking photos on the grounds was awe inspiring. There were a lot of tourists, mostly oriental, visiting, but the grounds were large enough to easily accommodate them all.
After site seeing it was time to head back to our hotel. Always an adventure because the drivers pretend to know where you want to go, but they would just wonder around, sometimes aimlessly, giving the traveler an extra tour all for the price of the direct route.
Back at our hotel we showered, and took a nice long nap. Then we were ready to hit the streets again. This time going down to were the Mekong and the Tonle Sap River meet. A nice dinner was topped of by a slow sunset cruise on the river. We had everything from orange togaed Buddhist monks, to oriental tourists, to local lovers. It was a great way to wind down the day.
On the way home we walked along the river-front Sisowath Quay, and stopped for a refressing scoop of ice cream. Back at our hotel we had a mixed drink on the rooftop bar. Great ending!
The next day was Sunday, and Kim decided that she had had enough fun for one weekend and she would go back to work in Kompang Cham, and I sadly, would take off the next day for a 6 hour boat trip up the Mekong to one of the seven wonders of the world. The Temples of Ankor!
Phnom Pheyn, Cambodia
After another nice rooftop breakfast, I bid adieu to Kim. I wondered around the city, and watched Cambodian TV in my room (not as much fun as it sounds). In the evening I went back down to the riverfront, but it was not as much fun as it was when my wife was here.
However, by the next day it was time to stop feeling sad and get on with the adventure. And early morning tuk-tuk ride to the river where I bought my tickets for the “fast boat” ride up to the town of Siem Reap. The board was shaped like a gigantic cigar boat, but once we were underway it in fact moved at a very moderate clip. Most of the passengers either sat on the roof or on the bow of the boat. Mercifully, it was cloudy for most of the morning,
We passed hundreds of fishing boats, cargo boats, and we often had a good view of the so called floating villages. These were houses that were built on floats. They seemed to congregate in one area for a while and then move on. They also seemed to be complete wooden houses with balconies usually with metal roofs. It definitively was not like Sausolito in California, but it seemed like they were making the best of what must be a hard life. Anyway, for me they were very picturesque and you can believe that I put on my telephoto lens and snapped way too many pictures.