Saturday, March 03, 2007

A-Z of Cambodia

Just in case you didn't know

And in case you were wondering, YM and Christine, this is what I was frantically scribbling down during traveling periods in the van and bus.


Airport - The Siam Reap International Airport looked more like a luxurious getaway resort than a bustling travel hub. Trust me when I say there were lots of pretty abound.
All-American Rejects - Thanks to heavy rotation on Channel [V] which, by the way, we received in Cambodia, I consider 'It Ends Tonight' as my theme song for the trip. Not that it had any relevance to the trip but you know, Tyson Ritter is very, very hot.

Angkor Wat
Angkor Wat - is everything and more I thought it would be. The pictures I saw did nothing to prepare me for the intense beauty of it all. (I may sound like a prat, but I'm totally serious!)

Baguette - I, along with YM, sampled a ham, tuna-filled baguette from a roadside vendor (You see them everywhere). It was yummy and no, we did not spend the rest of the day in the toilet groaning while the baguette violently came out from every orifice in our body.
Bayon Thom - It's depressing how thieves have made away with the heads of the statues. Says a lot about the level of poverty in Cambodia.
Buddhism - approximately 90% of the population are Buddhists.

- Our visit to Cheuong Ek Genocidal Centre on Day 4.
Corruption - rife in Cambodia. There is a marked divide between the rich and the poor - the rich often holding positions of state officials or government folk whereas the poor slum it up in dwellings along the Mekong River.

Snacks for sale
Crickets - which at point of writing I have full intentions of eating which I did not sample due to time constraints and the lack of cojones on my part.

Handcarved statue
D'Angkor Artisan - a carving center in Siam Reap which primarily houses the deaf. We were given a chance to tour the facilities and it's really interesting to note that handcrafted was meant on a literal level.
Dine & Dash - At Toule Bassae Restaurant, which is a fancy buffet restaurant, we left with a good meal in our stomachs and USD 2.00 more in our wallets because we forgot to pay for the drinks we ordered.
Dusty - Siam Reap as a whole was very, very dusty, mostly due to non-granite roads.

Emerald Buddha in the Silver Pagoda, Royal Palace - Conspiracy theorists say that the famed emerald Buddha statue in the Royal Palace had actually been long taken by the Thais during a joint preservation project. What is left is a replica that is either made in the inferior jade or plastic. We saw it and our verdict? Those smarmy Thais.

Food - is like a mix of Thai, without the spices, Chinese, without the MSG, and Vietnamese, without the beef noodles, which doesn't make it any less appetizing than it is.

Gems - Cambodia's specialty- rubies and sapphires. They still cost an arm and a leg.

History - The scars of the Khmer Rouge regime are still fresh in the minds and on the lands of the people. Depending on who you talk to, you get a different account of it all. What I think happened, put simply, is that during the Vietnam War, the Viet Kong in northern Vietnam pushed their way up to Cambodia for survival and taught the fringe-side locals the way of their life. What transpires next in the events of Cambodia is the result of learned hatred and discrimination towards the city and well-learned folk.

Idiot - Malaysia moves an hour faster than Cambodia. I set my alarm on my mobile phone for seven am, and end up wasting an hour that could have been spent on not-really-needed sleep. Mind you, this was on day 4 of our 5 days there.
Insects - Did you know that insects like crickets and beetles are sold as snacks in Cambodia? Spiders, on the other hand, have medicinal values, not like we put that to the test.

Jolly - as YM and Christine found out, I get a bit, ahem, 'jolly', come nightfall. Nothing I ever want strangers to find out, of course, in the event I am unfairly, but justly, labeled a psycho.

Khmer - is the main language spoken in Cambodia, followed by French, English and Mandarin. See N.

A local Cambodian taxi.
License - In Cambodia, driving a motorcycle does not require you to have a license. Cars, vans and trucks on the other hand, do need a official license. And with good reason, as evidenced by 'taxis' in Phnom Penh. Additionally, motorcycles in Cambodia are made to sit up to three people and that's legal (!?).

Marriage - When asking for a lady's hand in marriage, the guys need to prepare at least USD$5000 for the day-long ceremony alone. And that's just the average dude.
Massage - THE BEST EVER. It only costs like 7 bucks for a full body massage and it owns every other massage I've had.

'Nyer cekut' - which means 'you're stupid' in Khmer. Oh, the handy phrases I choose to remember.

At the Casino
Naga Casino and Resort - where my 15 bucks would end up recirculating to YM's 12 bucks+ and Christine's 10(?) bucks+ winnings for the night.

Ouch - the general feeling the day after our visit to Angkor Wat. My thighs were burning something bad.

Pan-handlers - not limited to your garden-size variety adults only. Be prepared for kids running up to you and begging for money while your head turns and your heart breaks. Beware: give one and more will come.
Passionate - Our tour guide for the Phnom Penh leg of our trip, Sau Phorn, was extremely passionate about Cambodia's history. Apparently his grandpa had been a victim of the Khmer Rouge regime. He was a teacher before, and something tells me I would have loved him as my history teacher.
Phnom Penh - the capital of Cambodia. A lot like Ipoh, with the slower pace of life, but with more footless monks and crazy tuk-tuk drivers hassling you for a ride.

Quizzical - I was going for 'wildly amazed' but ended up with a, "Huh?" face in this self-portrait taken in front of the Independence Monument in Phnom Penh.

Rock - A popular and hip local discotheque which we went to after dinner on our third day. It was dark, cavernous and very empty- owing to the fact that it was only 8.30 pm.

Group photo at the Royal Palace
Royal Palace
- When the flag is flying high at the King's official residence, that means he's home. No, we did not meet him and neither did he or his guards unethically proposition anyone of us.

Siam Reap - the cultural province of Cambodia where the great temples and Tonle Sap can be found.

Mass graves
Sombre - the mood after visiting the Killing Fields.

A prison cell @ Tuol Sleng
Sombre X 100000000000
- the mood after vising Tuol Sleng.

Tuk-tuk - Much like Thailand, they're a cheap form of transportation, averaging from 2 to 4 bucks.

Tuol Sleng - for those not in the know, Tuol Sleng used to be a school but was converted into a torture/detention prison for those accused of crimes against the regime.
The Khmer Rouge, ruthless as they might have been, were also incredibly organized. They took a picture, along with personal details, of every single person who was condemned to the prison. That was just one room of pictures. The noticeboard with the pictures of kids absolutely slayed me.

Writings on the wall
Unnerving - The feeling within the walls of Tuol Sleng. Never have I experienced a more apt moment for the phrase, 'if these walls could talk'.

Kumin Restaurant
Very snazzy restaurant we dined at
- Alright so I've got nothing for V.

Warm - the best times to travel to Cambodia is between the months of November and December, when the weather is generally cooler.

The steps leading up to the highest temple
World of hurt - was the state I was in the second day after climbing the steep, STEEP steps of Angkor Wat. I want to go back to when this picture was taken and tell PastKaren that she's going to be in a total agony following the triumphant feelings of climbing the steps.

Xcellent (yeah yeah.. what a copout) - The view from above the pagoda at Angkor Wat.

Yang - the name of this kid I promised to buy postcards from after lunch but had to turn down due to the lack of pretty in her postcards. I ended up postcards from her friend. The look she gave me following that made me feel very, very ashamed.

Crazy ride
Zoinks! - the bumpy ride on the 'roads' of Siam Reap on the one night we ventured out. This was before we knew about the fog of dust that settled in the night air thus scaring us from coming out after our showers ever again.