So farewell Cambodia, it’s been…
I don’t know. Is there a word that encapsulates excited, frustrating, disappointing, funny, breathtaking, chilled, manic, emotional and bumpy?
Angkor should of course have been the highlight, but illness put paid to that. However, the short time I was there allowed me to look on in awe at an amazing place.
We then travelled to Phnom Penh on undeniably he worst roads I’ve encountered yet. Dirt tracks would be far more appropriate.
Here we visited Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum and the Killing Fields. This hit hard. Hearing the stories of massacre and torture of so many people. Seeing skulls of victims and learning of the horrifying ways in which these people were killed cannot fail to make you despair in humanities barbarity in the name of bullshit causes.
S21 was closed 6 weeks before my birth. The war ended at the same time that we were arguing over Blur v Oasis. It really was that recent. Most of the people here have lived through war and lost large amounts of friends and family. Yet they are charming, funny and warm hosts.
There is a genuineness here that truly makes you feel welcome in their country.
I didn’t enjoy it. I feel intrusive and awkward on them, especially this one which took place on a commune. This meant that we barely met the people putting us up for the night. Instead we at a communal hall where all the woman of the village take turns to cook. So instead of sitting and eating with the family, we occupied picnic benches and had little contact. We then returned to the house, sat on a raised wooden platform and proceeded to get drunk enough to sleep.
Another early morning saw us head to the seaside town Sihanoukville. Here we all did our own thing during the day and would meet in the evening. I really enjoyed the evenings. We’d chill on the beach in comfortable chairs sipping on a fantastic array of cocktails. Around us music would play and an assortment of revellers and families intermingled letting off handheld fireworks in the air. In the distance we’d watch as clouds illuminated as lightening form a storm that would not hit us raged.
These couple of nights were more like the travels of friends tales and I really enjoyed them.
We returned to Phonom Phen the next day, again doing our own things. I joined some of the others in renting tuk-tuks and taking a ride around the city. They then continued onto a river cruise, but I’ve done enough of them recently and so instead went for a haircut at a little roadside place the was open to the elements.
That brings us to the present moment. Sitting on a bus and heading to the border.
I had originally thought hat I would be with the majority of this group all the way to Hanoi. Some are retiring home, but most are on a larger tour that goes all the way to Chiang Mai. But as it turns out my Vietnam tour is slightly different to theirs and so tomorrow morning i’ll be saying goodbye and joining another group.
I’m a bit gutted about it. I’ve learned that the group experience can be mixed, but this was a really good one so it’s a shame to leave them. I just hope the new one is like this and the China group.
So Cambodia. Hard to sum up because I spent half the time throwing so have less fond memories than I would have hoped to have. But it is a fascinating country and one you should try and get to.
Now on to Vietnam.