Friday, 12 March 2010

DO hold on to your hats- this is Cambodia

Oh, Cambodia. An absolute assault on your senses in both good ways and bad.

We bumbled into Poipet having already got scammed out of at least 15 quid for our visas and then followed around for the next hour by a guy with the creepiest fingernails you've ever seen claiming to be our 'tour guide'. Word of warning- if you stop ANYWHERE that doesn't have queues upon queues of anxious looking people and police wandering around in droves, you aint at the border. This being Asia, you don't even have to get your visas until you are actually inside Cambodia, which makes it a hell of a lot cheaper and avoids the possibility of you being stalked by a tout for the remainder of your day.

THEN we got onto the roads. A spare set of underwear is essential for any trip in a Cambodian vehicle. The road markers are a mere suggestion, blind overtaking is the norm and there is a strict swerve-or-get-hit policy in force. I was on a moto the other day and not wanting to wait he just mounted the pavement instead. Does the job I guess.

Aside from being totally mad though, it can also break your heart being here. You can really see that this is a country of people trying to rebuild their lives after the horrors of the Khmer rouge and every day is full of stark contradictions. Take the kids for example. On the road to our guesthouse lived the most wonderful, happy group of children we'd ever met- they'd run up to us every night shouting "hello, hello!" wanting to hug us and play with us. I took a picture one night and they spent the next ten minutes staring into the flash, pressing it right in their eyes then jumping away in fits of giggles. You move literally twenty metres down the road though and come face to face with the polar opposite- street begging kids, trained by their parents at just five years old to cling to foreigners, punch them, swear at them and try and steal whatever they have to hand.

Come prepared, come with an open mind, and come to see everything the country has to offer- positive or otherwise.

1 comment:

  1. Ah well I'm another technological retard as I just commented on the wrong bit...... I enjoyed the Temple but I meant to say that it was the bit about Cambodia that was superb!