Matthew's News and Gossip

Matthew's News and Gossip

A man with no talent, but armed with a digital camera, can waste lots of bandwidth

Sunday, November 24, 2002

So when I last left you I was getting off the back of a pick-up truck after a hellish 9 hour journey on what passes for a road in Cambodia. I promised my self many times the next few days that I will now pay up for the plane tickets if the road is that bad! After getting jarred half to death we got to Siem Reap. At one point in the journey the "road" is totally flooded. Stuck truckers waiting for the water to go down have built ramps for the pickups. To guarantee renumeration they have put stakes into the middle of the entrance to the ramps. So your pickup drives into a lake, the driver then stops at the edge of the wooden ramp and argues with the guy who's job it is to extract money before he moves the stake and lets the pick-up by. All the while the truck is sinking...

However, in Siem Reap the whole town has been quasi-Disneyfied for visiting Ankor. Not bad considering the place was the center of a war zone from 1970-1993. The temples are mysterious and wonderful. I spent three days buzzing around seeing the temples and the countryside on a rented scooter. I went to Ankor Wat (the most famous), Ankor Thom (a whole city with four fabulous gates), and my favorites, the jungle temples of Phon Sreay and Ta Prohm There were also lots and lots more. The whole place was built between the 9th Century and the 14th. So it slightly precedes medieval Europe, although Ankor Wat was built the same time as Notre Dame in Paris. Of course after that Cambodian civilization "declined" whereas Europe's "didn't". And they are just reviving the dancing if not the slavery The other notable thing about Ankor is the noise. The local "crickets" make the noise ear-splitting, especially in the jungle temples. It drowns out everything including the motos and the French!

I've made a decent attempt to catelogue the photos from Ankor. Here's the full set. (Be warned, there are a lot of them)

Otherwise Siem Reap was full of French people and Quebecois (or at least my pick-up was). I had also lost half my digital camera equipment (including the wire from the camera to the computer!) in Bangkok, but was rescued by a Canadian Australian called Charlie who had brought the equivalent of a digital photo studio with him and was able to download my pics from the disc I had. Charles of course has a website of his own trip, well worth a look. I spent an entertaining evening with him and random Dutch people in the Red Piano Bar, which claims to be Lara Croft's HQ from the movie Tomb Raider -- well it has photos of Angelina Jolie all over the wall. I also met Cristina, a Spanish reservations agent for British Midland Airlines who claimed that she had more hair than me. My other claim to fame was being recruited as a moto driver to give a lift in the pouring rain to Claudia a German girl who's own driver had deserted her--She didn't pay me the $1 US fee, though, so my future career may be limited.
posted by matthew  # 9:08 PM
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