Well I suppose this is the final installment of my Asia e-mails…. soon to be followed by Venice related e-mails ofcourse – jk I might well spare you all that joy. My last e-mail was sent just before going to the Phi Phi islands in S W Thailand. Although there was quite a lot of damage after the tsunami the beaches like those in 'The Beach' (which was filmed there) really were stunning. Elliott and I went on a dive there which was really good and saw leopard sharks. After a few days on the beach Rob and I headed up to Bangkok for Rob to fly home. I liked Bangkok more everytime I went there and although it was hectic I started to feel a little more at home. Rob flew home at the end of July and I met up with Elliott (who flew home shortly after), Ewan, Karen and then Adam. We spent a day in Bangkok before daring the journey to Cambodia.
Getting to the border was easy. Proper roads, proper bus. Getting over the border was a little stressful and time consuming but certainly manageable. Then came the journey to Angkor Wat. A mere 150km…. on a muddy track filled with pot holes, in a tiny bus that rattled its way along. I'm surprised it lasted as long as it did before it broke down. So along came a taxi to take the driver and the broken 'part' to the nearest village to find someone to weld it back together. A couple of hours later he returns and we continue on our travels. In total that 150km took us 10 hours. Oh yes…
OK so then we were in Siem Reap – Gateway to Angkor Wat. We got ourselves some friendly tuk tuk drivers and we started visiting the temples. Now to be fair it was without doubt worth the journey. Angkor Wat is amazing and there is nothing else like it. I will upload all my pictures as soon as I can but picture a huge area once covered in jungle that houses many great temples in various states of repair. In my opinion some of the most stunning ones were those that hadn't been restored and had trees growing on them and out of them. The (second?) Tomb Raider film was filmed there incidentally… Anyway yes all rather magnificent and only marred slightly by the hundreds of children who wanted to sell Karen and I bracelets, postcards, scarves, t-shirts and everything else under the sun. After 2 days we were only turned mildly insane…
Cambodia is beautiful and so different to home. On our many long coach journeys we drove through rural areas and I've never felt further from home than when I looked out of the window to see haphazardly arranged paddy fields, cattle, and houses on stilts in the middle of lakes. It was strange to think that we were coming to the end of the holiday yet I'd never felt further from home. Unfortunately behind the beautiful landscapes there is a huge problem of unexploded landmines in the countryside. It was devastating to see so many adults and children who had been in accidents.
From there the 4 of us travelled to Phnom Penh which was surprisingly pleasant. The French did a great job in giving the city wide boulevards.We went to a museum that had once been a prison during the Khmer Rouge's rule to find out a bit more about Cambodia's past. It was bizarre to walk into rooms that had once been torture chambers to see photographs of people being tortured and have the actual weapons laid out before us. There were endless photographs of the faces of those who had been imprisoned there. The whole experience was made even stranger by the fact that before it was a prison it was a school but when you walked into a classroom, you actually walked into tiny prison cells.
We returned to BK to see Karen off and for Ewan to go down to Ko Phangnan for the last few days of his holiday. Adam and I decided to chill in Kanchanaburi for a few days before flying home from Bangkok. We continued our holiday of depressing activities by going to the Death Railway Museum (concerning the railway built by allied prisoners of war during WW2) and the ajoining cemetery. Both were very moving. We then began as things continued from then on by shopping. a lot. I think I may have bored adam just a little with endless trips to department stores to accumulate presents for everyone (and me!). We left Kanchaburi, went to Bangkok, went shopping and flew home. After just over 24 hours of travel I found myself back at Heathrow airport and now safely back home. Trying to beat the jet lag and stay awake!
Anyway it would be great to hear from you all and make sure you all keep in touch as I won't see a lot of people until January at the earliest. Take care,
p.s. sorry it's been a long one!