“It is what you come for – it’s worth coming for it.” Singapore, February 21st, 2012

When choosing a place to meet up somewhere in the world you have a lot to chose from. Angi and I decided for Singapore and Angkor Wat, Cambodia, not the worst places I think.

Angkor Wat, the ancient temples of the Khmer, we all have heard about. Even though they did not become one of the new 7 world wonders we came here to be amazed, to see something different. It was worth coming for it. Quickly we understood that Angkor Wat itself is just one of many temples spread over a big region and that it takes days to explore it all. Pre Rup is the one we started with, quiet impressive, followed by Ta Prohm where, over hundreds of years, trees have become part of the structures, even more impressive.

A day walking in very hot conditions is tiring, up and down these temple stone stairs gets to your feet. So what’s better than a nice restaurant dinner and hundreds of fish massaging your feet, eating of all unnecessary skin, smile………………..

The second day we focussed on three of the most famous temples, Angkor Thom, Bayon and Angkor Wat itself. If you are not a scientist or a archaeological student after a while a temple is a temple and the tiring part sets in more quickly. However, knowing that most of these temples have never been abundant, have been used by the ancestors of the very locals you meet here, is fascinating, keeps you going. Also, everything in Siem Riep (gate town to Angkor) is set up to charge your batteries, to make you stay longer. Friendly smiles, massages, cheap great food and affordable luxury accommodation.  It works, we stayed a week.

At this point please allow the following emotional outbreak only partly connected to Angkor Wat but it gets me going since a while. What is it about the “beaten tracks”? They are beaten because they lead to something everybody wants to see or do and usually to something it’s worth seeing or doing. So to all those who give me the “oh, there are so many tourists here…”, “oh, the last three weeks I was the only foreigner….”, “oh, usually I only eat the local street food…”, just shut up. How come I met you here then, you being one of thousands, at a table of a Mediterranean restaurant in Cambodia wearing a funny shirt only sold at touri shops????????????????? Its good to be adventurous, its even credible to usually do things off the beaten track, but once you are mainstream don’t try to excuse it. It’s ok to eat western food, its ok to like a hot shower and honestly I really respect the Americans I meet in Angkor Wat. Simply because, they decided to travel, to go a place where English is not spoken as first language, to understand history that goes beyond the 200 years they have themselves.  They separate themselves from the 62% of Americans who do not have a passport, quiet a bit.

Anyway, we rested at our wonderful resort for a couple of days, enjoyed the pool and ourselves. It’s what we came for, its what we did, it was worth coming for it. Then we used the last of our “3 out of 7 day ticket” and visited ancient religious sites near a river further away from the main temples. Also very impressive but not as amazing as what we had seen already. So it was the right time to move on to Phnom Penh.

If you not arrive or leave from Cambodia’s capital there is only one reason to come here, to learn about the dark side of Cambodian history, the Khmer Rough dictatorship in the late 70’s with the trials prosecuting the people in charge right these current days. It’s what you come for and even though it’s sad, it’s worth coming for it. You might argue if it really was a genocide by definition or not but that’s not the point. It certainly was one of the most cruel, harshest and deadliest regimes ever in power on this earth. They not only decided to kill everybody that has education (potential danger to the regime) as well as all associated to that person (even second degree relatives and children), they also decided to do it with the most cruel methods and to document it quiet intensively. How sick can people be or become? The S21 prison and the killing fields make you become quiet for a while appreciating your personal freedom, your freedom of speech and the democracy you live in. Worrisome is the “no smile” sign which a guide explained with “mainly young Cambodians who laugh when visiting and seeing the photos of the prisoners with their hopeless, broken faces. Being aware of your history, avoiding repetition in the future is one of the biggest challenges of any society, not just the German one.

Once in Phon Penh you are surprised at how developed city it is, offering great accommodation, malls, interesting mergers of local food and modern restaurants and of course the always astonishing traffic. In this case I captured only 3 instead of 5 people on a motorbike but still quiet fun to see.

Before we left we visited the Royal Palace still in use and I organized my Vietnam Visa for later on. Back in Singapore I finally managed to get up on the platform of the Marine Bay Sands hotel. Three attempts before did not work but now I was here with the right person but a bit sad as it was the last day we had. Something made me wonder. Angi came her to see me, was it worth coming ………….., smile.

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1 Comment

  • goody kenia says:

    what a crazy trip? it is worth giving a visit and its great u did it for us through ur website to know how worthy is the ancient frank!

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