Blog based on Facebook posts made by Alex Reid during a package trip to Cambodia, along with the Brooks, in February 2024.

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Friday, 23-Feb-24:

A largely uneventful day, but interesting to see the changes in scenery, etc between Vietnam and Cambodia. For instance, much more evidence in Cambodia of a big discrepancy between rich and poor (some quite grand new houses, alongside the traditional stilt houses); also, quite a lot more rubbish on the side of the road; also, tarantulas offered to us for a fee (live or cooked!); astounding numbers of Toyota Prius cars, at one point almost every second car; crossing the Mekong river; cows on road (also in Vietnam); adverts of Krud beer (see another post); swathes of lotus flower beds (but I never got a flower close-up).

I saw signs advertising this Krud beer all the way along the highway from Ho Chi Minh City to Phnom Penh, once we crossed into Cambodia. So I just had to try it!! It was actually quite good, not at all kruddy!! I know Frank made a study of Cambodian beers last week - was this one in your repertoire, and if so how did you rate it?
Frank replied: One that I missed out on. I found the canned beers less good than the bottled beers such as Tiger, Angkor and Singha.

Arrived in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. It's hot & humid, on the roof-top bar... Everything requires $US (local currency Riel falls as you negotiate a price!).
Our hotel in Phnom Penh is in the downtown area. Here are views from the 14th floor (Pool and Bar).

Saturday, 24-Feb-24:

In Phnom Penh on Saturday, 24/2, we had a tour of some of the sights. The first was the Royal Palace, with a collection of wonderful pavilions, etc used for different purposes (eg Throne Room, Private Residence), Emerald Buddha (aka Silver Pagoda with its floor made of silver), Pavilion where the King speaks to the people, Repository of Elephant regalia, and of Royal regalia, etc.

After the grandeur of the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh, we then went to the other extreme and visited Choeung Ek, the nearest, biggest and most significant of the Khmer Rouge "Killing Fields". Some of the brutality is unbelievable (I won't repeat it here). Very salutary what man can do to man. In all, up to 3 million men, women, children, babies died under the regime of Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge - of starvation, of disease and of execution (1975 to 1979). This was one third of the population of the country. Some of the leaders are still in power, eg the most recent Prime Minister, who was aligned with Vietnam vs Pol Pot's alignment with (and support from) China; ultimately the regime collapsed through internal distrust and Vietnam's invasion.

Sunday, 25-Feb-24:

On Sunday, 25/2, we were driven by coach from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap, a distance of about 300km. We arrived at about 4pm. We stopped for lunch at a local restaurant, where I tried the local speciality, Amok, in this case Fish Amok (served in a coconut shell) - enjoyable (Cambodian food is much more mild that that from many of its neighbours).

Monday, 26-Feb-24:

Arrived at Angkor Wat and Bayon temples today (Monday). Here's a taster, more when I get my photos sorted.

On Monday, 26/2, we were taken to the temples area, starting with Angkor Wat, the biggest and best-preserved temple complex, where quite a bit of restoration work has been undertaken (lots more required!!). Some iconic views!! There were 3 levels, ascending both being quite steep (see pics), so Helen stayed with her feet on the ground! [more temples to come!]

After exploring the Angkor Wat temple, we moved on to the Ta Prohm temple. This one has been left with the trees that are taking over these temples, to show what has happened. Some of the trees are over 300 years old, indicating how long the temples have been subject to this degradation. One section aka "Lara Croft: Tomb Raider" as much was filmed here.

In the Angkor area, some other aspects of the site (Elephant Terrace, Leper King Terrace), including monkeys (macaques).

The final temple we explored (the one most favoured by our Guide) is the Bayon temple (including smiling faces of Buddha), together with the South Gate of Angkor Thom city with its rows of demons/gods pulling on a naga (mythical serpent).

Our final event of our Vietnam/Cambodian trip was to have dinner at the Morakot Angkor Restaurant, together with a concert of local dancing, culminating in the iconic Apsara dance.

Tuesday, 27-Feb-24:

We spent the day mostly at the hotel, waiting to be transferred to the airport at about 5pm. But we did have a late checkout (12 noon).

At the new Siem Reap International Airport (SIA), on our way to Hanoi then Sydney. Note: FB hasn't caught up with the fact that the new airport is 40km out of town, away from the old (now discontinued) airport (REP), considered to be too close to Angkor (inflicting some damage on the temples).

Here's a photo of our TripADeal Tour Group (and Siem Reap tour guide crouching at front) in front of that famous tree invading temple ruins at Ta Prohm

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Alex Reid