Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Cambodia

Well Friends I just wanted to share my thoughts and pictures about my recent trip to Cambodia. It seems like ages ago that my friend Melissa and I boarded a plane with out any children or husbands and flew off to Cambodia for a long weekend. We went to Siem Reap which is the home to the temple complex of Angkor. We left before the sun rose on Friday and before I had even boarded the plane Brian called to tell me that Carley was throwing up and she wanted to talk to me. She was very brave and her daddy took great care of her. We arrived in the morning and went to check into our hotel. We stayed a small hotel called Shinta Mani http://www.shintamani.com , with only 18 rooms it was very cozy. But we enjoyed every minute of our stay there. The people were kind and the pool relaxing the food was good and the reflexology even better. The special thing about Shinta Mani is that they also have the institute of hospitality. Here they take villagers who do not have a skill and teach them the ins an outs of the hospitality trade. They do some interning in the hotel and then go out and get jobs elsewhere after they have gained some experience. It is a great program teaching people a valuable skill. The hotel also takes twenty percent of its proceeds and gives it back to the Cambodian people through outreach to poor people. I will tell you more about this later. After changing and stowing our luggage Melissa and I were off to explore the local market and grab some lunch. The market was a great place full of lots of local flavor and colors. This was a bit of a mixed market one that had souvenirs and everything one could need. We saw all types of fruit, veggies, meat, and seafood. You could by fabric, pharmaceuticals, diapers and shoes. You could get your hair done, your, pants hemmed and pick up some light bulbs all in an area that was one square block.





After doing some shopping, it was time for lunch. We had a great meal on the second floor balcony of a restaurant. The food in Cambodia is Asian but heavily influenced by the French. A delicious lunch finished we headed back to our hotel and took a short nap. Then we were picked up by our guide Kim. Kim is a Cambodian national who speaks perfect English and is very knowledgeable when it comes to the Siem Reap area.


First we headed out to Lake Tonle Sap. It covers about 1000 square miles in the dry season, but during the rainy season it grows to four times that size and rises over 10 meters. We took a tour of one of several "floating villages." Our tour guide told us that these villages were made up of groups of people mostly Vietnamese and that they moved there villages according to the lake, the fishing, and the seasons. Kim also said that these people were better off than the people living on land. They had a steady income fishing. Many of them had TVs and the village really had everything they could need.













It was amazing to see gardens and livestock kept out on this lake. Even a general store. Small children you would expect to see on bikes were motoring around on boats. One boat had two boys on it and the were quite the salesman. As we are motoring along the older boy positions there boat close and the younger boat jumps from their boat to ours. But the amazing thing is he is holding a small cooler full of cold drinks that he is trying to sell. We we said no he just hopped back to his boat and they moved on.






The picture to the left is one of the many schools we saw. There are classrooms on the bottom and the fenced in area at the top si the gym complete with basketball hoops and soccer goals.One group of larger boats were restaurants. We watched a man feed fish in a pen that they kept that nights dinner in. He also raised alligators for meat and hides.


There is even a place of worship. Here is the village catholic church. Ready to follow its congregation.



One more thought these trees that we passed on the way in will be covered with water in about a 45 days according to our guide. But they do not die. Amazing.












Once our trip on the lake was complete we got back in the car and drove over to the Angkor complex for sunset. Our guide suggested that we watch sunset from Pre Rup. Constructed in 961 it is believed to have been the center of the royal city of King Rajendravarman. The crazy part is you just climb up to the top. No fences no one stops you. The view from the top was amazing you can see the mountains in the distance and sunset was beautiful. It was back to town for dinner and bed. We were off to Angkor Wat the main temple for sunrise the next morning.










1 comment:

Jennifer Partin said...

Beautiful photos! I have a friend from Cambodia and her testimony amazes me everytime.

How nice to share the experience with a friend too.