Just before we tell you about the wonderful temples, there is another worry here – the de-forestation being driven by the demand for timber for furniture and building. We regularly saw trailers of wood coming from rare forests to be cut up in saw mills:
There needs to be a Government policy to replace these trees to avoid Cambodia becoming an even more barren landscape. We tried to start a trend:
And so to the wonders of Angkor Wat! Built by the mighty Khmer Empire, which ruled Indonesia from 9th – 13th Century AD, in Siem Reap their capital which then had a population of one million people. Temples of God were made of brick or stone while all other buildings were built of wood and have long since perished from decay and termites. They were Hindus worshiping Shiva and their passion drove them to create the worlds largest religious building in the 12th Century AD to protect against attacks by the Chams.
They are spectacular as hopefully the following pics show:
Certainly Angkor Wat has been the highlight of our visit to Cambodia, and the town of Siem Reap is buzzing with restaurants and bars with beer at 1$ for 500ml !
Today we visited the Ponheary Ly Foundation (www.theplf.org) which supports education in rural areas where often families are surviving on less than 1$ a day, and they can’t afford to send the children to school. We hope to be able to support them in their good work in the future.
Tomorrow we fly to Kuala Lumpur where we kiss goodbye for a month, and our paths divide. Jocelyne goes to Sri Lanka to the Ulpotha Yoga retreat for 2 weeks followed by 2 weeks travelling round Tamil Nadu in India with her friend Laurence. I fly to Melbourne to visit Peter and Caroline Townsend and my Godson, Timothy and family for 10 days, followed by 2 weeks with Jeremy in South Island New Zealand.
Despite the challenges facing both Laos and Cambodia we have appreciated both Countries and leave with many happy memories of people and places. Until we meet again…
It has been a busy time since I last wrote, during which we have travelled and seen a lot of Cambodia. After Silk Island (Koh Dach) we drove North East to Kratie to stay on another island in the Mekong. Much of the route was through the enormous flood plain of the Mekong, where there is just one rice crop each year, and little is growing now so the fields are dead with little activity. In an area of rich soil the French had introduced rubber plantations which continue today.
Our 2 nights at Rajaboris Villas on the island of Koh Trong were excellent – see my Trip Advisor review and at www.rajabori-kratie.com From there we went to see the rare Irrawaddy dolphins and eat tasty ‘krolane’ which is sticky rice, soya beans and coconut cooked in bamboo tubes – Yum! Yum!
A bite of krolane
Our onward journey towards Siem Reap continued through flat mundane countryside of resting rice fields, awaiting the rainy season in 3 months time. As well as repetitive countryside, there was a roadside message in every village – your Government is wonderful!
Cambodia is ranked 156th out of 176 Countries for corruption by Transparency International and corruption is rife in Government, the judicial system, the police, public services, land and tax administration, public procurement, natural resources – everywhere! Corruption has succeeded the Khmer Rouge as the modern torturer and killer of ambition for the new generation where 50% of the population is under the age of 25. While Government Officials look after themselves, their family and friends, most of the population is still living in squalid conditions supported only by foreign aid through Non-Government Organisations (NGOs) who help mainly with education and medical support. Despite all of this, the people are friendly, welcoming and peaceful but we fear for their future.
This Country needs a change of Government, which will only happen if elections are run correctly, and that will give the hope the people deserve.