Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Tapestry of Images out of Siem Reap

Orion recommended to visit Banteay Srey. It is indeed beautiful as she mentioned, see pix below. The Apsara authorities (the ones managing the entry to all the ruins all over Cambodia) are planning to impose a timed visit for each tourist due to the size of the ruins. It is very small compared to the ones in Angkor Area. It took less than 2 hours to arrive here from Angkor Wat. It was a scenic journey, passing through villagers and padi fields. The tuk tuk had to stop to let a big pig with black and white patches like dalmations to cross the road. I thought that was funny. The pig strided away really quick.

It was a super dusty road to travel from Banteay Srey to Kbal Spean, just like cowboy town. It is about 2 hours trip with tuk tuk. It could be the longest trip of your life due to the constant brown cloud of dust whenever a car or lorry passes by. I was brown all over when I reached the hotel at the end of the trip. When I sneezed, it was brown phelgm. When I showered, the water was brown. I showered twice. Orion suggested taxi but tuk tuk was cheaper. Frankly, take a taxi, now that I know better.

From Kbal Spean, you can trek through a jungle about 40 mins to the River of Thousand Lingas where the river beds and rocks around it have carvings, There is a small waterfall with clear clean water. It was a nice and easy trek. Two Koreans and a Indochine tourists wore heels to trek. I was so impressed.

On the way back from Kbal Spean, a detour to Banteay Samre. After a while, most ruins look pretty alike, or they just become a bunch of rocks or rumbles. In fact, the design and architecture of all the ruins are very uniform, as if they have to adhere standard code.

Visit the Water Village on Tonle Sap if you wanna see how some of the Cambodians live. It is a boat ride which cost USD15 per pax. I think it is expensive. The boatmen is only paid USD10 per month. So, if you have a dollar to spare, you can tip him. It is very depressing there, watching the lives of the villagers. People live in very small hut made of attaps. I mean it when I say small. It is so small, like the size of a bathroom of an condominium.

The water of the river is very muddy (brown) and smelly. This is the water the villages used to drink, bathe, wash and fish. The boat trip will stop at a place where you can eat, see crocodiles, visit a pathetic fish museum which showcases the fishes that can be found in the lake and also watch a girl feeding small fishes to a bunch of vicious huge fishes.

On the boat, along the muddy river.

A home. This is one of the better and bigger ones.

Villagers buying and selling vegetables and supplies.

The hut. Isn't it small? It is very sad to see the condition. It is really bad and poor.

A school. Most school here were built through donations for e.g. from the Japanese or Korean or French government.

Fishercouple beating the net to remove some small silver fish. Not as small as ikan bilis, maybe the size of a gold fish, but flat.

A Catholic Church. Must be one of the missionary churches.

Moving house. Literally moving the house, no kidding. Note the entire frame of house on the lorry. I guess they don't much, do they?

Truly, it was a pretty adventurous trip, which I did walk a lot everyday. It was enlightening too. It reminded me how lucky and blessed I am. Most of us here are. Here, we don't see ten or twenty kids without shoes and dirty clothes begging you to buy knick-knacks from them. Or eating too much bons bons from tourists when they hardly ever know about dental hygiene. There, this is their life when they are suppose to be in schools.

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