Expedition to Cambodia 2012
All travel reports are translated electronically although minor improvements are sometimes made.
Expedition to Cambodia 2012
My trip: Poipet, Siem Reap, Angor Wat, Banteay Sray and Kbal Spean, Battambang, Bamboo Train, Phnom Sampeau, Phnom Banan, Phnom Penh, Sihanouk Ville, Koh Rong, Kampot and Cambodian villages around, Kep, Rabbit Island, Kampong Trach , Phnom Penh, Kratie, Kampi and Irrawaddy dolphins, Phnom Penh, Bavet.
Last time I was in Cambodia in 2004 and unfortunately too short, so I always wanted to go back to get to know this country better and see what has changed. This time I was in Cambodia for 3.5 weeks which made it possible to see many interesting places of this beautiful, touristy country. When leaving I realized that I would have been or would have liked to have gone again. Cambodia is always a very good country to travel.
A special thing for Cambodia
I have seen many times that Cambodia and its people appear to have existed only because of the temples of Angkor Wat. This is not only visible on the national flag on which Angkor Wat is also present, but also in art, souvenirs for tourists and architecture. I saw shops and insurance companies named Angkor and Bayon. Cambodia’s national beer is also Angkor.
I came to Cambodia from the land of Thailand. I had a visa earlier so I got only a stamp and I was in Cambodia. Those who made a visa on the border must unfortunately count on bribes, the so-called “administrative fee”. The town of Poipet, which rhymes with the “toilet” is not only a border and has its dark sides. It is a hatchery of prostitution and aids, through which Thailand is supplied with more prostitutes. The border is decorated by a gateway modeled on the Bayon temple of Angkor Wat and I think it would be enough, but next to it is a huge, nasty hotel and some brothels (“massage parlors”). The whole town is very poor. There are a lot of shops under tin plates and ragged, barefoot children asking for small things.Delayed to get to the station, then left this unattractive part of Cambodia and left for Siem Reap.
As soon as I crossed the border and told a Bangladeshi boy that I was already in Cambodia in 2004, he complimented me that they already have a road. He said with pride that there are now no holes in the depths of half a meter and that the road is straight.
Transportation from Poipet to Siem Reap
My first part was delayed as I could have expected. I waited for 2,5 hours to leave the bus as the driver waited for all the seats to be filled. In the meantime, I ate a bowl of rice and saw poor little children begging for a little. Then through the rice fields, after an equal footing, after about 3h I reached Siem Reap.
When I arrived it was late, but I soon realized that for 8 years a new city was built here. In 2004, Siem Reap looked like a flat, beaten earth with metal barracks. Today there are many shops, cheap and more expensive hotels located by the river, restaurants, massage parlors and Cambodian art gems. I think that in Siem Reap there is a lot of art, that is mainly the paintings and sculptures referring to the temples of Angkor Wat. Half-hour foot massages cost only $ 2 and hourly massages are only $ 5- $ 6. For the food I paid on average about $ 2 and it was always very good. Siem Reap is the base for Angkor Wat is a typical tourist town, where a lot of money was invested. When I was here eight years ago I lived in old Siem Reap, which today is part of the non-tourist and moped repairs. Also eight years ago I paid $ 5 per room and now only $ 3. I lived in Garden Village, which is one of many cheap and pleasant hotels. I had a room built entirely of bamboo, with a mattress and mosquito net. In the evening I always walked by the river or sat in a pub with other foreigners, where we had fun. When we drank without making any local bitches parade ahead of us as on the catwalk, they showed breasts and spoke $ 50 but for you $ 30. Unfortunately, they did not find any willing to contract the aids. Anyway it was fun. We played billiards, we were at dinner and of course we talked about Angkor Wat. As mentioned before Siem Reap is a base for Angor Wat, so I organized myself trips. I really like this place.
A short history of Angor Wat
Angkor temples are remnants of a lost city dating from the XII century and a memorial to the capital of the Khmer Empire. It is a complex of buildings, temples, sculptures, forest areas and water reservoirs, which are second to none. By the middle of the 19th century, the lost city was unknown to the world. For centuries it was regarded only as a myth that was an unreachable relic of the past lying deep in the jungle.All the more so when the place was discovered, the surprise was not over. For hundreds of years, archaeologists have been cleaning up temples from the jungle, giving it a contemporary look and still being refined. The Khmer Rouge was also the object of the regime’s destruction of the Khmer Rouge, who tried to destroy them with very primitive explosives, but fortunately they failed. In the tragic time for Cambodia, the scientists were deported from the country and the work was stopped. Despite the better and worse times, the whole building is a phenomenon of religious and cultural architecture, and I think that anyone traveling on this part of Asia should necessarily come here. The temples of Angkor Wat are unique, though I have great respect for Bagan in Burma.
Introduction to my journey around Angkor Wat and practical information
This time the purpose of my trip was to visit the best temples of the wonderful miracle of the world and world cultural heritage, the ruins of the ancient temples of Angkor Wat. I spent 2 days in the whole complex, and also made a trip to more distant places. I took the tour very seriously and traveled the map. On the first day I went for rickshaw trip with a group of three Americans, which came out very cheap because for all day everyone paid only $ 4. The next day I went on a bike tour and all day I paid for a bike for only $ 1, it was also beautiful and cheap. Entrance to Angkor Wat costs $ 20 for 1 day, $ 40 for 3 days and $ 60 for 1 week. I spent $ 40 and the first day I traveled the green route, the red day on the second day, and the third day I went to the temples and waterfall 47km for Siem Reap. Every time it was obviously wonderful.
Although I have seen about a hundred or more obets, in my report from Angkor temples I will limit myself only to the description of the most important temples and the general description of the whole. I would like to talk about the most important objects but on the other hand I want to avoid lecturing on art history.Before I go into the description of particular temples I would like to say that the temples of Angkor are not only antique ruins. There is life in this area. There are a few small villages, pubs built of bamboo where you can eat rice with grilled chicken and coconut milk. In Angkor temples there are also exhibitions of paintings and souvenir shopkeepers, who squeeze small things for a few dollars. For example, I bought a nail cutter in the shape of the Bayon temple and Angkor Wat for $ 2. The choice is huge, and while visiting the temples, it will take us a long time to admire the local art and interact with the people.
The most important temples of the Angkor Wat complex
Usually the first object of the visit is Cambodian national pride, or Angkor Wat. This temple is the largest religious building in the world and it strikes not only its size, but also extremely massive structure and shape. The building consists of a pyramid with five towers, the highest of which is 65 meters. Angkor Wat is surrounded by a moat with walls and corridors of 1300 meters long and 1500 meters, and the temple itself has an area of 1km². Many of the walls are decorated with bas-reliefs depicting scenes from Hindu mythology and scenes from the victorious wars of King Suryavarman II. This ruler of the Khmer Empire built Angkor Wat and devoted it to the Hindu god Vishnu. Angkor Wat has its religious symbolism, for example, the whole building symbolizes the cosmos, the highest tower symbolizes the mountain and the smaller towers are the continents. When Angkor Wat was built in the 10th century, it was a huge undertaking that is hard to imagine today. There were no trucks or excavators, so all the rocks had to be hand-cut and brought on rafts. Today, all Cambodia lives on this temple and this is the greatest proof of the pride and national identity of Cambodia. In 2004 I came here before sunrise and left Angkor Wat after sunset, which also gave a spectacular effect. I saw a huge temple with five massive towers, a lake and palm trees in front of it. Then I entered the temple and climbed high but unfortunately very short stairs. It was quite dangerous because there was no security and it was very easy. The view from above was beautiful because it gave me a more complete picture of the whole object and allowed me to see the chambers, pillars, stairs and many other passages in the upper parts of the temple. On the surface, only Angkor Wat takes hours of sightseeing, but if one wants to see exactly all the rich details and corridors and feel the atmosphere of Angkor, I think it could be a few hours.
Angkor Thom and objects in its area
The next object was Angkor Thom or later the capital of the Khmer Empire built by King Jayavarman VII in the twelfth century. This temple has five decorated gates and the whole town has an area of 10km². The southern gate, with its four stone faces at its peak, is most noticeable today. This antique town was built on a perfect square, near Tonle Sap Lake and is surrounded by a moat. Before Angkor Thom there is a bridge on both sides of which are embedded stone statues of men pulling “naked” or mythical snake with seven heads. The bridge that houses this building and the gate to Angor Thom symbolize the eternal desire of people to reach the land of the Gods. The city of Angkor Thom was built in the style of Bayon, which is considered to be the “top of the iceberg” of Khmer architecture. I recommend to stop right behind the gate, to look at the stone face on the other side, and see the roots of the trees intertwining in the building. Then at the top of the wall there is a view of the bridge and the river. If anyone wants to enter Angkor Thom in style, it can be done on an elephant. In the area of the ancient city there are many interesting temples and cheap food bars under palm trees and children selling souvenirs. This is a very pleasant part of the temples.
The Angkor Thom is the most important and most beautiful temple in Angkor Wat, or Bayon, which can also be accessed through one of the four gates. I personally feel very impressed by this temple. Especially when I came to one of the huge stone faces and when I could touch them. They have been here for over 800 years and relatively recently have been discovered. Bayon was also built by King Jayavarman VII in the twelfth century, and although this temple is comparatively smaller than Angkor Wat, Bayon does not give in to its expression. Bayon has 54 towers adorned by 216 huge stone faces that are supposedly the likeness of the king himself. Although the building is beautiful I think it was one of the ancient ways to control your people. In the Bayon temple, the subjects were sure to be watched because the faces of the king looked from every corner of the temple. In addition, faces are neither sad nor merry. They gently smile, as if to show their irony, pride and attitude of inviolability. This is my understanding of Bayon.
Next to Bayon, in the vicinity of the monument of a large Buddha is the Baphuon temple, which was not visited until 2008. The Khmer Rouge regime ordered her to undress the stone after the stone and hence its delay. The temple is in the form of a pyramid and has many corridors and pillars. Baphuon also has some sculptures, you can get to it via the bridge, and the view from the top offers nice views. Considering the heavy jigsaw that took place around 1000 years ago, and then re-laying stone after stone at the end of the 20th century, I am full of admiration. Archaeologists assume that Baphuon was a model for Angkor Wat.This temple was built around 1050 by two kings: Suryavarmana I and Udayadityavarmana II.
Next to it lies the Elephant Terrace, which, although it is only a flat surface made of large boulders, also makes a great impression and was of great importance in the time of the Kingdom of Angkor. The elephant’s terrace is decorated with elephant heads and reliefs of people dancing and parading elephants.It was here that all performances, festivals took place, and here the king accepted the people and watched the performances. It was a center of entertainment, culture and politics.
Objects outside of Angkor Thom
I will first describe the object that I liked most. My trainer took me to the Ta Prohm temple, which, although very ruined, was very interesting and unique. This temple is beautifully destroyed by mighty roots, and I grow into its walls. It looked very attractive and as if the great roots were part of the building. When the first Europeans started purifying the Khmer Empire from the jungle in 1860, Ta Prohm was not cleansed and therefore is in the state in which it was discovered. Some of the boughs are huge, some small, looking like “the great blood vessels of the architectural organism” called Ta Prohm. To this day, many reliefs have been preserved, and it is obligatory to see this object, but the huge boulders scattered around it are difficult to walk through. Many of the corridors are covered by huge, square rocks, but the magic of Ta Prohm and its proof of the power of the jungle give you an unforgettable experience. Ta Prohm is a Buddhist temple built in the twelfth century by King Jayavarman VII.
Phnom Bakheng is one of the oldest temples built around the ninth century by King Yasovarmana I. This great building has five storeys, is decorated by stone lions and 44 towers. Phnom Bakheng serves tourists to observe the sunsets over Angkor Wat.
Preah Khan is one of the largest temple complexes in Angkor, rich in many beautiful statues, figures and corridors. Preah Khan, like Ta Prohm, also combines the trees and its long roots, which are now part of the temples. To this complex leads through the jungle and the bridge, at the end there is a monumental gate with three towers and statues. It is also a good place to watch local art. Inside, there are many corridors and objects and reliefs of many sizes. The whole building is surrounded by a wall about 800 meters long, and at the end of it is another gate and antique snakes with seven heads. The factor that characterizes Preak Khan is the jungle itself, the exhibition of paintings and overturned rocks and broken sculptures wrapped by the roots of the trees. This very atmospheric temple was built around the 12th century by King Jayavarman VII.
Preah Neak Pean
Preah Neak Pean is a small temple, or rather a small tower built on a raised platform in the middle of a walled pool. There are also four other smaller pools, as well as several animal sculptures. Sometimes there is water and sometimes not, which depends on the time of year. The road to Neak Pean is a wooden bridge built under the wetlands and surrounded by trees. In front of the temple is a souvenir stall and fruit and a toilet. Preah Nea Pean was built in the 12th century by King Jayavarman VII.
Ta Keo and Pre Rup
These are very massive pyramid temples, having several floors and towers serving the sanctuaries. In both temples there are five towers. Each of the temples is walled and has attractive reliefs and the top can be reached on massive stone steps. Pre rup was built by Rajendravarmana V around 961-962 and Ta Keo by his father Javarman V about 1000 years ago. Both objects were dedicated to Shivie.
Comparison between Angkor of 2004 and 2012
Angkor temples are the national pride and the basis of the national identity of Cambodia, whose magnitude is appreciated throughout the world. For this reason, a number of maintenance work is being done on their premises, which improves their condition. For example, in 2004 when I climbed the main temple of Angkor Wat, I thought I would fall and turn my back. It was the same with all the other temples built in the form of pyramids. Now there are wooden stairs which have greatly improved safety. In Ta Prohm, one gate has been modernized, as seen in pictures taken a few years ago and now. The difference is huge. Archaeologists have also submitted the Baphuon Temple in 2008, which made me see something new. On the terrace of the elephants in Angkor Thom, a new lion was built, and in front of the gate to Angkor Thom, a soldier holding a seven-headed snake was more complete. In 2004 many did not have heads and today, they were in 2012. As for the last two things, it is of course good, but on the other hand it takes the realism of Angkor, especially since the newly added sculptures have a different color than the old one. The gate to the city of Angkor Thom is supported by iron balls. I will also add that the area of Angkor Wat temples are not the only ones in Cambodia that are worth seeing.
Other ruins recommended by the author
During my travel career I have seen many ancient ruins, and each time I compared their magnificence with Angkor’s temples. I think it will be fair if I only describe the ones I have seen. I recommend Wat Pho in Champasak, Laos, which are part of the ancient Khmer Empire. In Burma I recommend an absolute hit, or the ancient temples in Bagan . In Thailand there are Ayutthaya , Si Satchanalai and Sukhotai . Sri Lanka is Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa , and in China the Great Wall and the largest Buddha in the world in Leshan. I think that these few ancient temple complexes and Angkor Wat certainly give a good picture of how Asia’s culture and architecture have evolved over the past thousand years.
Tour outside Siem Reap and Angor
I went on an all day excursion in two places. The first object was the pearl of Angkor art called Banteay Srei, located about 32km from Siem Reap. There are ruins of the temple with beautiful sculptures. This temple was built in 967 and was dedicated to Shiva. This object has a dark pink color, is surrounded by a small moat and in spite of small size should be spent on him a lot of time. Sculptures here are very elaborately made and should be noted for the rich details.
Then I went to Kbal Spean , where after about 1.5km walk under a gentle mountain I reached a nice waterfall. I bathed here under a stream of water and walked among the trees. It was a very pleasant, quiet corner, away from Siem Reap about 47km.
My trip lasted all day because of the distance, but the places I saw were worth it. I had a girlfriend from the Netherlands, but we quickly got separated because we could not bear it.
Transportation from Siem Reap to Battambang
The trip was easy and pleasant. I paid $ 5 and I was driving 4h.
Battambang is a small, pleasant town, although it is certainly not Cambodian tourist center like Siem Reap.The main assets are colonial architecture and French shops along the river, several impressive temples with monks living in them and pleasant pubs. Battambang is also more realistic than Siem Reap, and one of my favorite places was Psar Nat , a dirty fish market where you could buy frogs to eat. It is also one of the main meeting places, and in the evening you can always eat chicken skewers. I also recommend very popular massage parlors where they massage the blind for $ 6 / h. Battambang was on my bike. I was in a park on the river where I played ball and went to temples, some of which had motifs from Angkor Wat and Bayon. The temples that you will surely see are Wat Phiphetharam , Wat Damrey Sar , Wat Kandal . In addition to the typical temple objects, there are also elephants and other animals. I also recommend a colonial building from the early 20th century which is now the Mayor’s residence . I was also in the Battambang Museum , which has numerous collections from Angkor temples and near the Phnom Banan temple. I have noticed that many temples in Cambodia are a combination of Thai temples with Angkorian elements.
I stayed in the cheapest but decent hotel for only $ 3 a night.
Besides, Battambang is a very nice little town for a few days, also for interesting excursions outside the city.Once again I recommend “Massages with hands visible”, although sometimes the blind have too much strength in their hands.
I rented a bike and drove a few miles behind Battambang. Unfortunately I was circling some small villages and banana palms because it was hard to find the beginning of the route. When I reached the place first I ate something delicious in the Cambodian style. I was given rice, of course, and the chicken with bamboo sharply. Then I got on a bamboo train and drove to an old brick factory where the kids were selling coconuts and drinks. The bamboo train is a lightweight construction on iron wheels and an iron platform that drives one of France’s most rugged tracks. This is of course fun, because sitting on a bamboo platform I rushed through the world quickly, occasionally jumping into the air. Once upon a time the platform was on the opposite side, so we had to brake and remove the wheels from the tracks and then had to put the whole platform back on the tracks. I also recommend visiting the brickworks at the end of the route and interact with people.
Phmon Sampeau is an interesting trip 12km outside Battambang, where I got on a bike. Phnom Sampeau is a complex of temples and caves that can be seen in the company of monkeys living there, of course, sitting on a coconut. On the way to the top, I also encountered a stingray green snake that crawled up the stairs.He was poisonous but took it on a stick and moved to a safe place away from people. In this area there are many monuments of Buddha and caves that are converted into temples. The most famous is the Killing Cave, where there are skulls and bones of those who were murdered by the Khmer Rouge regime and then thrown to the bottom of the cave. At the exit I also observed bats flying out at dusk from the cave, and there are probably thousands of them there. The huge rock with Buddha statues in various positions, caves full of stalactites and human bones, and bats for goodbye were impressive. Then I went back to my bike to Battambang. I will also add that the top of the Crocodile Mountain (Phnom Krapeu) is visible from the summit, which was recently the seat of the Khmer Rouge.
The next day I went in the back seat of a moped to a complex of eleven temples called Phnom Banan.There are 258 stone stairs to the temples, and five towers at the top, supposed to be the inspiration for Angkor Wat. I believe this is true because the temples in Phnom Banan were created earlier and are indeed similar to those in Angkor. Same ruins are worth even an hour of excrement. They are surrounded by plants and the stones are sandy in color, which perfectly integrates them into the environment. At the foot of the mountain are sculptures, red boulders and chapels and pubs with outdoor food. There are also three caves here, one of which is very large and has many passes. The whole resort is beautiful and I advise not to regret the time to get to know it. Half way there is also the only wine cellar in Cambodia, which I also visited.
The return journey from Battambang to Phnom Penh costs $ 8 per motor and $ 12 per tuk tuk.
Transportation to Phnom Penh
For 6h I paid only $ 4 and to Phnom Penh I got up in the evening driving through Pursat, where I finally stopped.
I reached the Cambodian capital late in the evening. The bus blew me up in an ankle puddle and then got on a moped and was taken to the hotel. Phnom Penh was my base for a while and I came back many times.I went from here to the south and the east of Cambodia, and later to Vietnam. I lived here in two hotels near the Cuban embassy, for which I once paid $ 5 and another time $ 6. For me Phnom Penh turned out to be a nice city full of interesting sights and temples, with a nice promenade on the river, cheap massages and good food. Every evening I went for fruit and milk drinks, went for a massage and sometimes also for seafood. Underneath I will describe the most important monuments and places of interest that I have seen, although I assure you that even without their thorough exploration of Phnom Penh, this will prove to be a wonderful experience.
One of the most important places to see is the Royal Palace and the Silver Pagoda in Phnom Penh . This palace is a complex of architecturally impressive buildings, the official residence of the kings of Cambodia.These buildings were built in 1860 and were inhabited by kings, outside the rule of the Khmer Rouge. The whole resort is in a nice garden, it has many attractive palaces similar in its form to Thai temples and Buddhist stupas and statues. The official name in Khmer language is Preah Barum Reachea Veang Chaktomuk. The Royal Palace in Cambodia is a good example of traditional Khmer architecture and consists of the ramparts ( kampaeng ), the preah tineang , the Wat Preah Keo Morakot, the stupas ( chedei ) and the tall, pranged towers prasat). The Royal Palace is located on almost 17.5000m². Although the whole area was built in 1860, many buildings were built over time, even in 1930 and 1956. Also worth mentioning is that the entire area of the Palace is divided by three walls: the northern side is the Silver Pagoda, the south is the Khemarin Palace, and in the center is the Throne Hall. In addition, there are many other impressive buildings in each section, such as the Moonlight Pavilion. In my opinion, the Royal Palace in Cambodia is one of the nicest places in Phnom Penh and should spend at least 2-3 hours exploring. The place where the king lives is closed to tourists, but it does not matter. I recommend highly. At the entrance to the camera I paid about $ 6, although taking pictures inside the building is forbidden.
The Phnom Penh coastline, which is located opposite the Royal Palace, is also a popular, peaceful tourist attraction, good at any time of the year. It is a good meeting place for Cambodians and a popular place for tourists to talk with locals. There is a nice view of the river and the flowing ships, and there is also an attractive pavilion on the pillars, which is well protected from the sun and from the monsoon. In the same place, there is also a Buddhist chapel and numerous vendors of lotus and lotus flowers. Sitting on the wall of the river with a cold drink, you can stare long past the Royal Palace and the garden in front of you.Walking along the river and masts with flags of Asian countries, I got to some interesting temples, played a bamboo ball with locals. The whole area is also planted with exotic plants, and there are plenty of travel agencies, restaurants and hotels. Many of them are still in colonial times, when Cambodia was the protectorate of France. There is, for example, Indochina Hotel and you can buy baguettes in town. The coast is part of Phnom Penh to which the tourist always returns without even planning, and I think very well.
Right next to the Royal Palace is the impressive and rich monuments of the National Museum of Cambodia .It is the largest archaeological and cultural museum in Cambodia, referring mainly to Angkor Wat. The National Museum has the largest collection of Khmer art in Cambodia from both the pre-Khmer Empire and the Khmer Empire. I would like to remind you that the Khmer Empire encompassed areas from Thailand through Laos to Vietnam, so there are about 14,000 objects here, mostly stone sculptures but also ceramics, bronze articles and cultural objects and articles from the ages. In my opinion, this museum is excellent and gives you the opportunity to supplement your knowledge about the ancient Khmer, as many wonderful exhibits have been taken out of the temple. In addition, the National Museum in Cambodia recommends visiting from the outside, because the building itself is a very impressive temple style, rich in many interesting elephant sculptures, profiled roofs on the pattern of oriental sacral architecture and is planted with exotic plants. Wonderful place!
Another attraction is the town itself and the small streets and bazaars. I used to sit in street bars in narrow French streets, where I was served with good soup or chicken with bamboo. Going to the city without a focus on monuments gives you the chance to see people at work, and people who behave naturally because most do not work in the tourist industry. One of my favorite places was the bazaars, especially the fish section. There is always a lot to discover.
Wat Phnom temple is a temple on the hill is a famous object because of the hill, although the temple and entrance to it is also a pleasant experience. I liked the paintings on the walls inside the temple, the sacral architecture characteristic of this part of Asia and the vegetation around. You also need to walk around a large white stupa and see numerous sculptures modeled on the temples of Angkor. Besides, there is also a large seven-headed cobra made from sticks. I also recommend the temple of Wat Ounalom , which is the center of Cambodian Buddhism. There is a typical sacral architecture for this part of Asia, numerous monuments and monks living there. I personally liked the temple of Wat Phnom, although the Ounalom is also beautiful and resembles the temple in Bangkok. It is located right next to the Royal Palace, also is not overlooked. There are many temples in Phnom Penh and some of them are Wat Botum , Wat Sarawan and Wat Moha Monterey . Other monuments in Phnom Penh are no longer cultural but political, and linked to the tragic history of the Khmer Rouge regime. There is a Cambodian-Vietnamese Friendship Monument on the square near Wat Ounalom, which is purely political. It is located in the city center on a marble square and was built in the style of socialist realism by the Communist regime in the 70’s. The love between the two countries is undoubtedly exaggerated, which is evidence of the destruction of this monument a few times. The government repaired the monument after it had been smashed with hammers, set on fire and blown up. Anyway, the monument still stands. At the largest roundabout in Phnom Penh is also the Independence Monument with its style modeled on the highest tower of Angkor Wat. The monument was built in 1958 as a symbol of independence from France in 1953, although it is also a symbol of war victims.
The next two are related to the Khmer Rouge regime . The first and most thrilling place is the Tuol Sleng Museum (S-21) , an old school that Pol Pot and his companions converted to an extermination camp.Where there used to be classes to teach the Khmer Rouge they made small cells, death chambers, torture chambers and bone and skull storage. This prison was set up in 1975 and was liberated by the Vietnamese in 1979. For about four years, about 100 people were killed every day, and only 7 survived in the end. They were the ones who spared the regime because they were able to paint pictures and take pictures. The Khmer Rouge were very meticulous and made records of who was dying. Today there are paintings depicting the torture of prisoners and thousands of images of murdered people. The entrance costs $ 2.About 14km outside of Phnom Penh are the famous Choeung Ek Death Camps . This place is another evidence of a brutal regime. At the central point is a building in which there are as many as 8,000 human skulls and torn clothes. There is also a tree under which people are beaten to death, graves and aquariums with broken bones. No one knows how many people fit in the aquarium. I would say most people were murdered right here. The Khmer Rouge tragedy is still alive in Cambodia. I met a few young people here;drinkers or souvenirs who talked about their families dying right here. It is worth taking a tape and earphones to hear the story of this place step by step and we will know the exact explanation of the numbered places.Every issue, every down, each array and the tree has a history, and everything is completed touching song. Entrance costs $ 3 and the shuttle on the back of a moped $ 6. The option of getting to the place is a few groups and recommend a tuk tuk.
Besides, I recommend shopping at the bazaar central Psar Thmei , the great yellow dome under which are cheap but always good souvenirs from Cambodia, good food and clothes. I knew such a “deception” This bazaar took all day and still did not have enough. Other Russian bazaar bazaars are Psar Tuol Tom Pong , also full of souvenirs and clothing “almost original” with popular tags and the bazaar night on the river.
Moving around Phnom Penh is very easy because there is no shortage rickshaw (tuk tuk), and that almost anyone is a potential moped taxi. The price must always be fixed in advance. Massages please be treated as mandatory. On average, the time costs were about $ 7- $ 8, but again for $ 6 US dollars woman bent me in the Chinese section and felt great. Well worth it!
Phnom Penh requires accurate knowledge. This is an interesting city that tells many stories. The things that I mentioned above are my opinion and should be obligatory on them to devote at least 3 days. It is also important to have time for a moment of reflection, a walk by the river and explore their own places. I warn the haste because Phnom Penh does not consist only of monuments and museums.
The road to Sihanouk Ville
The trip took me 5 hours and as far as I remember I paid $ 6. The bus stopped for tea and biscuits while driving and played cards with Walijkami.
Sihanouk Ville is a popular seaside town, which is famous for its recreation for young people for little money. There are plenty of cheap hotels, pubs, diving centers, massage parlors and eternal party on the beach. The beach itself is nice but does not deny Drehu chest. It is rather a very pleasant, relaxing place with lots of tables and chairs on the sand where you can just relax. On the beach Ochheuteal walk many vendors offering grilled crawfish and shrimp, drinks, rice cakes and massages. Business developed on such a scale that even remove hair by threads. On the main street there are bars with billiards and girls for sale, then hotels and agencies continue diving and cheap pub in tents. I lived in a hostel Utopia, the event center for young people.For bunk in a room with other White dwunastoosobowym paid only $ 1. For those who prefer peace and quiet, but they have more money I recommend Serendipity beach. In the middle of the hotel was the swimming pool and children’s pool, which is always drunk in the evening body soaked and sought contact with others. Always music playing and the women in swimsuits men naciągały drinks and deluded as we can. They were ruthless. I also think that the symbol of Sihanouk Vile is a large golden statue of a lion and lioness. I went away for a few tours that I recommend.Always music playing and the women in swimsuits men naciągały drinks and deluded as we can. They were ruthless. I also think that the symbol of Sihanouk Vile is a large golden statue of a lion and lioness. I went away for a few tours that I recommend.Always music playing and the women in swimsuits men naciągały drinks and deluded as we can. They were ruthless. I also think that the symbol of Sihanouk Vile is a large golden statue of a lion and lioness. I went away for a few tours that I recommend.
Trip to the 4 islands
Z Sihanouk Ville I went on a day trip to the exotic island with white sand and surrounded by turquoise water. I swam in the beach paradise barracuda and eaten with vegetables under the palm trees. One of the islands is worth mentioning offering direct Koh Russei (Bamboo Island), although around Sihanouk Ville there are about 12. There is also the option of becoming a night and diving in nearby reefs. It was one of the most beautiful days of the expedition.
Koh Rong island
Being in Sihanouk Ville, I went to the beautiful island of Koh Rong to dive. Koh Rong is a beautiful island with white sand and jungle in the middle of a length of 15 km. Koh Rong is a beautiful, secluded place with coconut trees and pretty landscapes and hammocks on palms. There are also pubs with seafood and film screenings, billiards and nice woman in a bikini without which even the most beautiful places would not be so nice. The diving was, of course, but an adventure in Thailand compared to the previous year was not as successful as in the rainy season was low water clarity.
For 3 dives, round-trip transportation (2h of Sihanouk Ville), 4 meals and a bed in a dormitory room I paid only $ 80. Of course, the cost of diving here are the greatest, but it was still worth it. It was a very pleasant boat trip and a wonderful open-air.
The road from Kampot to Sihanouk Ville
Bus, quickly and conveniently. For $ 4.5 105km in 2 hours driving.
Kampot is a small town on the river in which a lot is happening, and in my opinion the most interesting is what is outside of town. Here you can pay attention to the French colonial buildings and monuments of great collectors of salt and durians. Also I walked along the river, swam on the hour cruise and I went cycling in the rushing current. I lived alone in an eight-room for only $ 2 per night, and spent part of the time on a hammock in the garden. Kampot is a small, quiet town that you can get around all within an hour and that is a good point for many excursions.
Kampot tour with the observation of rural life in Cambodia
Between Kampot and Kep (25km) there are attractive sites for tourists, which I recommend as an experience of Cambodian village. I rented a bike and rode here on the day by palm trees, paddy fields and wooden huts balls. I was driving normally along a dirt road, watching people collecting rice and leading their buffaloes. I was also invited to the backyard of one boy, who showed me his farm and offered me a coconut. I came to an interesting cave also called Phnom Pnorch, which had a small temple in the middle. I went with a guide through the small, dark recesses of the cave until I came to the place flooded by water. I swam here a little cold water between the rocks and enjoyed the adventure very interesting cave.Then I got on the bike and got through the rice fields to a secret lake, then swam in the turquoise pond. It gave me a relief from the heat and the very beautiful swimming in the open air and the water was so great that day a great addition. I got also one of the many plantations of pepper, which I must admit that even for me it was quite new. At the end I gave the young handler $ 3, thanked and went back to Kampot.
If you can not find a road bike every boy and his dog are potential guides.
Bokor National Park
Bakor National Park is near Kampot and this is a protected area of 1581km² area, where many species of animals. After the first sentence, it seems that this park is an enclave for the animals, but it is completely different. This area has become a victim of illegal logging and throughout the mountain station Bakor is planned construction of a new city. Bakor mountain station was founded in the twenties by the French, in order to avoid the heat in the valley. The beginning of the whole mountain was planned Bakor (1080m above sea level) on which the French adjudgement frogs and drank champagne, but then began to form other objects. In 1925, he founded here a casino / hotel, the Catholic church and the post office, but today is a tragic ruin. Perhaps still, these objects would look good but the Khmer Rouge regime drove the French,turning the whole place into a ghost town. In this area, however, it is a Buddhist temple My Sampeau Wat Roi offers nice views, and leading him 11km trail to the waterfalls Popkovil . There is also a huge statue of a woman similar to the Buddha and a luxury hotel with a casino and golf courses. For now, it is largely empty but everything is open and waiting for the guests. Near the waterfall it is also a model of the new city Bakor, with new houses, hotels, renovated Catholic church, river and vegetation integrated into a new city. I think when I come back here in 10 years Bakor will be a very different place.
To Bakor I recommend tours one day trips from Kampot for about $ 7 including catering and transport.
Kep is a small town by the sea, which is a rising star of the Cambodian tourism. There is a pleasant fish market and fish restaurants with squid and octopus impaled on a bamboo stick. I lived in a hostel for $ 4 about 2km from the center. Besides, I swam in the sea, I played billiards and had good food. I kep heartily recommend as it is a very attractive small town, and this also a good base for local destinations. In the area of Kep I saw the first box of salt.
Any trips, hostels and hiring a moped is cheaper in Kampot, which is why many people see as jedniodniową Kep trip. In this case, however, you have to reckon with avoidance of several attractive locations that are closer to Kep.
Rabbit Island (Koh Tonsay)
20 minutes by boat from Kep is a tropical island of the prettiest beaches in the area. In addition, the views are nice, relax, hammocks on palms, a small jungle and good food. You can also spend the night in wooden houses even though it is more expensive than in Kep. Transportation in the two sides is $ 5. If someone wants to spend the night and return the next day then you should be sure to tell the owner of the boat or pay another $ 5. Tickets are available in every hostel in the center or at the bus station. Rabbit Island is a pleasant trip jedniodniowa contrary to the name but I have not seen any rabbits.
Cave Phnom Sorsi
Approximately 10km of Kep is a team of caves at the top of Phnom Sorsi. It is a nice trip leads through the dirt roads and rice fields. Within the caves first have to buy a ticket from the greedy monk and then you can go on tour. Inside the caves are referring to the monuments of Buddhism, spectacular rock formations and bats. This is a nice, cheap trip I recommend the bike. You can also reach here from Kampot.
Caves Kampong Trach
Kampong Trach caves are in my opinion one of the most impressive in Cambodia, although its location makes are beyond the strictly tourist route. These caves are located 22km from Kep and only 6km from the border with Vietnam. I arrived there on the motorbike of Kep and it took me about half an hour. Transportation after Cambodian roads here is an important element of the Cambodian adventure, which I highly recommend. First, I got to the dingy, dusty town of Kampong Trach, then turned left when I saw a big rock and the potholed roads reached the caves. As I recall input cost me a whole dollar and guide the next dollar, also very tasted. I recommend especially the guide, which draws attention to detail during the tour. Inside the caves were, for example, rock formations in the shape of an elephant,crocodile and turtle. Another cave seemed like I was inside the whale because the ceiling and the sides looked like rib bones. Local guide certainly had imagination. There are also caves to some extent covered with water, giving you the opportunity to escape from the heat. I believe that it is worth coming here and why I recommend Kampong Trach caves for those who are not as busy itinerary.
Transport from Kep to Phnom Penh
3h by bus for $ 5. In Phnom Penh, this time I spent half a day and one night. I was on a nice dinner and a good massage and it was lovely.
Transportation from Phnom Penh to Kratie
I made a mistake because I drove a bus and it took me 8 hours, from 7.15 am to 3.15 pm. After a few hours the road began to extend the length of me already, and I was happy that at last I arrived.
(Typically, Kratie and Ratanakiri and Mondulkiri provinces are visited by a traveler going from Laos to Cambodia.)
Kratie was unfortunately my last place in Cambodia. If I had more time I would go even to Ratanakiri and Mondulkiri (jungle, elephants, waterfalls), but spent two days and came back to Phnom Penh. In Kratie I roamed the small center focused around dirty but also very interesting bazaar with fish, meat and vegetables. I was also in a Buddhist temple and a walk by the river. Kratie is a small town which is impossible to not come across in the way of Laos and the surrounding area you can see the Irrawaddy river dolphins. Besides, too much to do, not here. You can wander around the bazaar, eat something good which I highly recommend, and the view west along the Mekong River and the postcolonial, French architecture. The room cost me only $ 3.5, also it is a great opportunity.
Bike trip for the search for the Irrawaddy dolphin
The next day I went on a bike trip to Kampi (15km from Kratie) to search for the Irrawaddy dolphins. I drove all the way through the potholed, dirt roads and in places where it was asphalt and so I had to steer clear of the hole. It was a great adventure, the more that I passed wooden houses at balls and banana trees and palms. Kampi is a small village from which I took the boat to the Dutch have met together and went for 1.5 h trip in search of dolphins. We saw a lot of them but only emerged briefly from the water and it was so hard to photograph. On the way back through the banana trees and houses on the balls I got to the temple of Phnom Sampouk (Phnom means hill after Khmer). This was the temple complex set up at various levels in many monuments of Buddha and shrines.That day I drove 30km on the bike after the potholed roads and I was on the boat, but the most tired of me the sun.
Transport from Kratie to Phnom Penh
The trip lasted 4.5 h, and this time was driving a minibus. He was also much more comfortable than 8 hours a bus on the way to Kratie.
Last day in Phnom Penh
My last day in Phnom Penh, Cambodia treated as a farewell. I was on a good dinner and a massage, and once again walked along the river at the Royal Palace. I was also on the central massage to buy souvenirs and by the way I ate a squid, shrimp and fruit.
The road from Phnom Penh to Saigon
We left at 1am and the tourist area in Saigon arrived at 11 am. The ticket cost me $ 10 and the border went smoothly.
It was the end of my adventures in Cambodia and now I awaited month journey through Vietnam.
The summary of Cambodia
Cambodia was a wonderful adventure, which I do not want to treat only as Angkor Wat. Apart from Angkor Wat here I recommend the small towns and villages, Buddhist culture and good food. Cambodia also offers massages, nice art, interesting caves, nice views and diving. Cambodia also gives you the opportunity to know the sad history associated with the regime of the Khmer Rouge, but no matter what a beautiful country it is nice people who smile at tourists not only for the money. We are happy to recommend Cambodia.