Gun for Hire, Confidential Agent and Ministry of Fear by Graham Greene
Cambodia's Curse by Joel Brinkley
We spent the beginning of our 2015 on the way to Cambodia. Embarking on New Year's Eve thanks to a cheap ticket and flying out of Minneapolis via Chicago via Incheon (Seoul, South Korea) to final destination Cambodia and it's capital Phnom Penh.
We in fact, did not experience New Year's at all this year, (which I'm considering giving up anyway, it's way too late at night). We were flying somewhere over Alaska and then crossed the international dateline at 9pm or so. So we ended up flying into New Year's Day and totally lost out this year. Oh well, no New Year's Resolution for me, just some airplane food (which was actually pretty good) and some movies, which weren't as good.
My lack of New Year's celebration was all made better when we sleepily got off our plane in Phnom Penh and were given beers for our tuk-tuk ride home. A tuk-tuk (or remork) is a covered cart pulled by a moto and pictured here (sometimes also known as a mini-bike or motorcycle). Overall, pretty maneuverable and convenient, especially for an unknown city with difficult traffic.
Here's little taste of tuk-tuk riding. You can see us zoom past Angkor Wat's main entrance while our driver honks at everything he can. Now to be clear, he had the fastest tuk-tuk. You could read the smugness in his face as he passed every other tuk-tuk, car, or cyclist on the road. He said he'd been a garment factory worker for a long time, then moved to Phnom Penh and bought himself a tuk-tuk because he didn't like working for anyone but himself. It showed, he could barely tolerate anyone on the same road (and that included either side of it). Here is tuk-tuk man, his super fast moto, and Angkor Wat in the distance!
If you do ever travel to Cambodia, you should make it a point to see the Temples of Angkor, chances are that's what you'd be doing anyway, but just in case.. They are located in Siem Reap in the northwestern part of Cambodia and are some of the oldest structures built by man. They are eye-popping. Detailed carvings, massive sandstone, and nature's slow encroachment all add up to a sense of how puny you and I are!
I won't bore you with too many details, but let's just say we were happy to have a guide for these temples. Below are various pictures of our first day of temple exploration.
Inside Angkor Wat
Besides the temples in Cambodia there is alot more to experience. We saw the darker side of Cambodia's history. The evil brought by the Khmer Rouge. Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum and the Killing Fields of Choeung Ek were both terrible reminders of evil acts committed by the Khmer Rouge on the Cambodian people and humanity itself. We spent a day visiting both of these sites. These were both in or near Phnom Penh.
We also spent some lovely beach time on a remote island on the southwestern coast called Koh Rong Sanloem. It was secluded and quiet. There was a local fishing community near our bungalows. We were able to do some snorkeling and beach bumming. The food was delicious. Here's the moon shining above the dock. You see a tiny fishing boat light making it's own light pathway on the water.
In our two weeks there we felt very welcomed by locals. People were almost always friendly and if you knew just a little Khmer, they were always happy to help you piece together the rest. Probably one of the highlights of my trip was a cooking class day. We went to the market and gathered ingredients for fish amok and fried spring rolls. Then we took them back to our classroom, cooked them up, and ate them. Delicious! I'll leave you with this final picture of some of the various market goodies in all of their glory. YUMMM!