camboel

This is the beginning of the posts dealing with Cambodia and some commentary that may not be appropriate for a travel blog but is my take on the subject.

Firstly, I came to Cambodia to wipe an entry off my bucket list…Angkor Wat.

Secondly, having read some rather disturbing info about the distress of Cambodia when in the control of Pol Pot and U.S. involvement in the policies that led to genocide , I came seeking truth and to pay my respects.

Angkor Wat is a group of temple structures lying about 20 minutes outside Siem Reap, Cambodia.

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They are approximately 800 years old and in various stages of disarray. The setting of the complex and the beauty and detail of the workmanship is stunning.

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The complex itself has been determined to have been the pre-eminent civilized center in the world with Tikal, in Guatemala, as number two.

Angkor Wat was a hydraulic center which utilized the heavy rains of the Monsoon to irrigate farmland and furnish potable water for a constantly increasing citizenry.

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The Angkor period began in 802 under the Khmer (pronounced kah-my) monarch Jayavarman II who declared himself a universal monarch and God-king.  Apparently starting a trend which survives in world politics today.

Ayutthaya (Siam and later Thailand) overran the city in 1431 and scattered the survivors.

The ruins are impressive and quite extensive. I spent about 4.5 hours there and only saw the two main structures which were very gratifying as the culmination of a lifelong desire to see one of the wonders of our world.

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The motion picture Tomb Raider was filmed there and for those who might have interest. YouTube has some great documentaries and videos about Angkor Wat.

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Siem Reap was the point of beginning for my visit to Angkor Wat and also for my extended foray into Cambodia.

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IMG_8048Angkor Wat lies roughly 2.5 hours from the Thai/Cambodia border crossing at Aranyprathet/Poipet. This crossing is a comedy of corruption where fake quarantine stations will catch the gullible and Cambodian Visa officials will openly add bribes to entry costs for those weak or unwise enough to pay them. They will make you stand aside and wait to be processed for failure to accept their dishonesty and give you attitude and intimidation but just tell them NO to their demands and they will finally let you through or…you can be a big negative to future travelers and capitulate to expedite your needs.

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I took the bus from Mo Chit bus terminal in Bangkok at a cost of roughly $20 and it was interesting to say the least. The bus attendants will try to trick you into letting them take your passports to the Visa office at the border for a “reasonable fee” but it is just another part of the ongoing scam for all to feed off the tourists.

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Tuk tuk drivers add their constant harassment to the melee and life plods on. Don’t be a tourist pig. It’s just a ripple in the sheets, not bedbugs. Relax. Think through it. Stay polite but firm. A smile will get you better served.

Siem Reap is interesting and busy and offers food and accommodations and transportation and entertainment and shopping for all levels of travelers…from the elitist who must have the best to flaunt as their supremacy over the masses and protective fencing separating them from lower life forms to those who, like myself, carry dimes and nickels for ballast and trade and will be found sleeping with a dog or the arm of a friend for a pillow.

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I stayed at Bun Kao Guesthouse which is a bit hard to find for those who get easily disoriented or can’t read a map. It is off Wat Bo Road about three blocks from the river and the phone number is 85512256705.

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The owner is a wonderfully cheerful and helpful man who, with the help of his family, try to be accommodating and welcoming.

I booked this through Agoda.com and was content. My room was $10 a day which included an en suite bath and free WI-fi.

I met loads of nice and interesting folks in Siem Reap and one lovely blonde German lady by the name of Barit made me long for days when I was entered in the competition while a couple from Spain who were riding the world on their motorcycle had my admiration if not enthusiasm.

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During the day I roamed town and examined the diversity that is Siem Reap and at night went to Pub Street for food, libation, and companionship. I found Siem Reap to be a place that I easily could have stayed for months and felt at home.

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I arrived on February 10, 2015 and left on February 15, 2015. It was one of the highlights of my travels thus far.