nate, roger, i’m so sorry…

you gave me sound advise and i chose, very unwisely not to follow it…i took the bus from bangkok to siam reap!

the day didn’t start off too badly, the large air conditioned bus pulled up just down the street from the hostel just as i had been told it would do by the young woman at the travel agents. ‘getting to cambodia in this will be no problem’ i thought. well the jouney as far as the border in this bus was great. at the border we got out, had some food, a few people got there visas sorted out and we made our way through immigration. not a difficult process but it was getting really hot by this point and a little sticky and uncomfortable. that was where the fun ended.

the continuation of the journey would still be by bus, but not the super-comfortable big ‘vip’ bus. no no. by a small, rattling, air-conless ‘local’ bus (for local people) . then it got worse. you see there was a rumor, one which has since been confirmed that a nameless airline company in this part of the world has paid off the government NOT to tarmac the road from the border to siam reap, know fullwell that the nightmare of the journey by road will become infamous and people will fly. not i. i sat on this local bus for 7 hours while the very skillful driver negotiated potholes the size of lunar craters not on a road but a dirt track. rocks the size of footballs, huge artic lorries, bikes, cars, no ‘drive on the left’: drive wherever the hell you can. the lack of air con meant that the windows had to be opened letting what nate coined ”cambodian snow” (the orangy-red dust that part of the country is made from) to cover us all from head to toe. joking aside, i’m still coughing up mud. guys, i know you warned me, but i am glad i’ve done it. something of an experience that will make any journey from here on in blissfully easy by comparison.

but it’s not all bad. i’m in a nice little guesthouse, possibly the poshest i’ve stayed in so far, for $5 a night. today i’m going to see one of the sever wonders of the world: angkor wat. going to see it by day and the sunset today, then the sunrise and the early light tomorrow. hoping to get some killer shots and learn more about this countries early history. on saturday i’m going to travel to phnom pehn to the killing fields and get more insight into the more recent and tragic history. we had a short lesson in rather broken english from a tuk-tuk driver last night, more to come on that one.

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    • Rubber Duck breaker breaker 2-4
    • March 9th, 2007

    What a horrible journey for you. Amusing for me, but then you shouldnt be too suprised by that. Serves you right for not taking sound advice from what is clearly someone that has had an experience that left him unable to horse ride for several years.

    I’ll be interested to hear what you learn about the killing fields, warfare is very different in that part of the world, absorb sa much as you can for me.

    Some interesting things you probably already know about Angkor Wat:

    For hundreds of years, the lost city of Angkor was itself a legend. Cambodian peasants living on the edge of the thick jungle around the Tonle Sap lake reported findings which puzzled the French colonialists who arrived in Indo-China in the 1860s. The peasants said they had found “temples built by gods or by giants.” Their stories were casually dismissed as folktales by the pragmatic Europeans. Yet some did believe that there really was a lost city of a Cambodian empire which had once been powerful and wealthy, but had crumbled many years before.

    Henri Mahout’s discovery of the Angkor temples in 1860 opened up this `lost city’ to the world. The legend became fact and a stream of explorers, historians and archaeologists came to Angkor to explain the meaning of these vast buildings. The earliest of these scholars could not believe that Angkor had been built by the Cambodian people, believing the temples to have been built by another race who had conquered and occupied Cambodia maybe 2,000 years before. Gradually, some of the mysteries were explained, the Sanskrit inscriptions deciphered and the history of Angkor slowly pieced together, mainly by French scholars in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

    And perhaps something you didnt know:

    Some of the individual temples also have legends attached to them. The Phimeanakas Temple, built by Rajendravarman (AD944 – AD968) was said to be visited every night by a snake princess, on whom the prosperity of the kingdom depended.

    There you go mate, you can meet Royalty. And when you meet her, remember, in Cambodia, never signal to someone using your index finger and your palm pointing up as this can be interpreted as sexually suggestive. You flirty hand waver you.

    When visiting a temple, wear a shirt which covers your arms and shoulders and do not wear shorts. Always take off your hat when you enter temple grounds. Take off your shoes when you enter the temple sanctuary.

    Now sit up straight and stop sulking.

    Bonjour.

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