Saturday, April 6, 2013

One dollaa

Siem Reap has been the destination where we spent our last 4 days. Probably the most touristic place in whole Cambodia - due to the world famous Angkor Wat which is situated there. While Flo and I cruised through the impressive temple scenery, tourist swarms from South Korea, Taiwan or China found it more comfortable to rush through the main attractions by bus (with A/C of course). Still, you definitely get to see more on bicycle, even if its 41 degrees Celsius... 
While talking to locals, we not only learned a lot about Angkor Wat, we also acquired a significant Khmer vocabulary - which is of big use when it comes to negotiating with TukTuk drivers or waving off ladyboys or other inappropriate offerings.
Siem Reap itself is very pleasant, in spite of the many tourists. The town offers huge and beautiful local markets, frequent power cuts, delicious grilled fish from the near by Tonle Lake and ANYTHING you can think of for 1 Dollar. In the local dialect, people pronounce ''one dollaa''. So where ever you are, sooner or later someone will come up to you and say something like: "Sir, hello Sir. Two for one, buy from me, one dollaa, just one dollaa Sir.'' Then you will have to look again to figure out what exactly they are selling as it might be Mangos, Postcards, Marihuana, their Sister, a Massage or a simple TukTuk ride.

This morning we arrived in Battambang (ca. 300km north west from Phnom Penh), where the two locals on the picture introduced us to the ''Bamboo train''. Since the railway system is in a very bad shape (constructed by the French centuries ago, untouched since), no official trains are running any longer. Since a couple of years now, the locals started to build their own vehicles in order to use the rails. These platforms that resemble a flying carpet, make up to 50km/h and are used to transport rice, people and tourists here and there. A ride on such a ''train'' takes you through remote areas, bush fires, local villages and is at times bumpy and slightly scary. Overall however, it is a legendary experience, something you will not do somewhere else that fast.
 Later today we witnessed the flight of 2 billion (honest figure, not our estimation) bats, while leaving a cage in order to get some food. Plus, we visited a former killing cage of the Khmer Rouge Regime. These places and experiences are sometimes tough to digest and fill the day with ease.
It is also interesting to see backpackers and tourists with an ''I can change the world'' attitude here, they mostly have little knowledge about the Khmer Rouge and then wonder why their Che Guevara t-shirt with the red star does not really call for positive feedback.

Tomorrow or the day after we will head south, try to spend the night in some remote fisher village around the Tonle Lake and then continue further south, direction Phnom Penh, Sihanoukville.

I will keep you posted about how many one-dollaa-opportunities we realized...

cheers, GH

1 comment:

  1. Awesome! You have really good style of writing. Keep up the good work!