The temple tour
It's probably because of the heat that everything is slowing down here in Southeast Asia. Especially the authorities suffer enormously. I had to wait 2 weeks until my Cambodia visa was extended and I got the Vietnam Visa.
The days I spent mostly with small bike tours through Phnom Penh. In the process, I was able to observe how the city has changed since my last visit in 2012. Entire neighborhoods have been built or rebuilt from scratch within a very short time.
Where rice fields and corrugated iron huts were still standing 5 years ago, today you can see hotel resorts and skyscrapers jutting into the sky. Tourism has also increased enormously. People from all over the world with different travel budgets are pouring into the country.
As a result, prices have increased enormously. While I was able to afford a room for $ 5.00 back then, you have to settle for a bed in the dorm for the same price.
Exactly on December 25, my mother landed in Phnom Penh. I had not seen her for over half a year. We had a lot to talk about and used the first two days to visit the sights of the city.
Of course, a visit to the two memorial sites Tuol Sleng and Choeung Ek could not be missed. First we took the Tuk Tuk to the Tuol Sleng Museum, which is not far from the city center.
The Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum is the former S-21 Red Khmer Prison. The building complex is a former school of the city, which was used by the Khmer Rouge after the conquest of Phnom Penh as a prison with systematic torture of the inmates.
The next day we drove to the Choeung Ek Memorial, which is about 17 kilometers outside the city. Choeung Ek is the most famous of the so-called killing fields, where the Khmer Rouge regime executed around 17,000 people between 1975 and 1979.
Mass graves with 8,895 bodies were discovered here after the fall of the dictatorship, many of whom were former inmates of Tuol Sleng Prison. A visit to the two places I find tremendously important if you want to understand the history of Cambodia.
On the third day we took the plane from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap. There we bought a 3-day ticket to visit as much as possible the whole temple complex of Angkor. On the first day we started with the Tuk Tuk.
Angkor was the center of the historic Khmer kingdom Kambuja from the 9th to the 15th century. Angkor became world famous through the still visible evidence of Khmer architecture in the form of unique temples.
Over a total area of more than 200 km², several capitals were erected successively, and in each case a large main temple. To date, more than 1000 temples and sanctuaries of varying sizes have been discovered.
There are speculations that up to a million people in the Greater Angkor area could have lived at around 1000 km² at the height of the historic kingdom. At the time, London had just 10,000 inhabitants.
To date, more than 1000 temples and sanctuaries of varying sizes have been discovered. It shocked me to see the increase in tourists who flock to the facility daily. Especially the number of Chinese package tourists is worrying.
From enjoyment can be no more in such masses. We decided to do the tour in reverse order and were able to dodge the main currents a bit.
On the second day we decided to rent the same Tuk Tuk driver again, which should prove a fatal mistake. First we drove to the far away Banteay Srey Temple.
The temple, which was considered one of the most artistic due to its ornamentation, was built in the middle of the 10th century. The temple was built during the reign of Rajendravarman II (944-968) in honor of the god Shiva.
Since 2004, the Banteay Srei Temple has been restored with financial support from Switzerland. Next to the entrance there is an exhibition with information about the temple.
I found this very helpful. In the rest of Angkor you will find no information boards at all. Who can not afford a tour guide has just had bad luck.
On the way to the Roluos group we made a stopover in the landmine museum of Aki Ra. Aki Ra is a former Cambodian child soldier and initiator of the organization
As numerous mines and weapons accumulated over time, Ra exhibited them in a specially opened museum in 1999. Here he also worked to educate the population about the dangers and rules of conduct related to mines.
At the end of the day we visited the Roluos group. Roluos group is the collective name for three major temple buildings in the immediate vicinity of the village Roluos.
Significant is especially the Bakong. This is considered the first major state temple of the Khmer, as hitherto largest building of the Southeast Asian mainland and as a model of later, even larger temples.
Unfortunately, our tuk tuk driver was almost palpable in the evening when we did not want to pay him more than the agreed price. You can do 100 positive experiences in one country. Unfortunately, a single negative can destroy much of it.
If you visit the Tuk Tuk Angkor you should definitely agree the price before the tour and not choose the same driver for several days. These usually demand utopian prices (for Cambodian standards).
Our last day in Angkor was also the last one of the year. First, we visited the heart of the entire facility: Angkor Wat. The temple is a national symbol and has been featured on the national flag of Cambodia since its first version in about 1863.
In the 10th century under Yasovarman I (reigned 889-910) numerous irrigation systems and reservoirs were created, which among other things contributed to the fact that several times a year rice could be harvested. This successful agriculture led to food surpluses and brought great wealth to the Khmer Empire.
By the end of the third day, we had slowly seen enough temples. Nevertheless, it was not easy for me to say goodbye to this great facility. In his own words, the impressions you feel when you visit are almost impossible to describe.
New Year's Eve left hardly any time to sleep. Our flight left for Phnom Penh in the morning. Among other things, we spent the last two days with my mother visiting the royal palace and the silver pagoda.
This does not pay off our experience at all. The architecture is pretty simple. Especially after some time in Southeast Asia, I found this complex almost a bit disappointing.
The farewell to my mother was not easy for me. We were able to spend a great time together here. For me it was already in the saddle the next day.
Phnom Penh is not my favorite city so I was quite happy to set out for Vietnam. After only 2 days I reached the border in Phnom Den.
The border guards there was extremely rude and threw my pass at the end of the area. A big contradiction to the people in this country (apart from our Tuk Tuk driver).
Now it's time to go to the Mekong Delta. I'm really looking forward to a return visit to this country. Akuun jaan Kampouchea!