First steps in Cambodia

On 11 April 2014 by From elephants to kangaroos

IMG_2064 (1024x683)After many ups and downs due to the cancellation of my flight, so here I am finally arrived in Cambodia in Phnom Penh. And I do not really know what to expect in this country in terms of landscapes or meetings, we hear all the time talking about Angkor temples but it often stops at that …

My 1st stop is in the nation’s capital. After putting my luggage in a very nice and well placed GH, I go through the streets of the city…in my first monsoon! I decided to stop in a restaurant as long as it calms down a bit and on the advice of a friend, I go to the restaurant Friends which is an NGO that trains young people in various trades including those catering. Great local food and at the same time, the rain stops.
IMG_1979 (1024x683)I resume my way to see the Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda, the 2 most famous monuments of the city. This is a set of major temples in a very well maintained park. Some are accessible to visitors but for most, we can’t see it (without knowing why). Next to the Silver Pagoda, a large frieze extends over several meters. Quite interesting guided tour with the french travel guide Routard that explains the different meanings of each location.
On the advice of a couple met at the restaurant for lunch, I then headed to the Museum of Fine Arts. The building is beautiful, large red Chinese temple inspiration. Many details to observe, flowers to admire. More than the museum so that nevertheless contains beautiful collection of sculptures, I recommend a visit to admire the monument.

IMG_2092 (1024x683)The second day, after a French breakfast at Comme à la maison (and it is aptly named!), I headed to S21 Tuol Sleng prison, a museum of genocide recalling the years of Khmer Rouge ordeal. I’ll be honest, I was told that the place was very hard and impressive. From my point of view, certainly the place worth visiting for realize the horrific conditions of confinement of Cambodia at that time (nothing but the sign at the entrance that says the main prison rules are explicit), but there are very few explanations and lots of pictures of all convicts. The prison / museum is interesting but not worth in my opinion for example the Museum of War of Saigon which had much touched me. I then went to the Russian market, big jumble I like and where you can buy everything!
I was then, on the advice of a friend again, see the premises of the PSE NGO- For the Smile of a Child in a somewhat outlying district of Phnom Penh. This NGO aims to educate and train street children in various trades according to their skills and desires. The association began providing food to children found in a landfill and now has an impressive complex in the city with boarding , buildings for each trade, cultural and sporting areas. In short, hundreds of m2 for a good cause! After discussion with two Cambodian who gave me the tour, I found myself helping to stall posters in town and therefore pass the aprem with them, a lesser contribution in this NGO but as they say , this is always better than nothing.
In the evening, I walk the city at night with Chris, met at the GH and discovers the Independence Monument all lit up , much prettier at night, and the night market where you can feed very well and cheap, a classic in Asia!

IMG_2140 (1024x683)The next day , it’s time for me to leave PP after passing through the central market ( beautiful building!) and go in the southern part of the country to follow a certain logic (trying to finish by the north to cross the border with Laos). So I decided to make a first stop in Kep . Again, great GH and I spend the evening at the famous Crab Market with 2 Canadian travelers a little older met on the bus, to taste the famous crab with green pepper from Kampot, delicious! The next day we take the boat towards the rabbit island! A beautiful beach that stretches some 400m with huts all along and hammock, perfect to chill! And hot water…but VERY hot ! I ‘ve never seen that … We do a tour around the island for 2 hours , not much to see along the way but you get to stretch your legs. In the evening, french dinner with cheese and ham with Julie and Julie, 2 nice French girls encountered in the day!

photoAnd then it’s time to hit the road with the 2 Canadian. We wanted to stop for a few hours Kampot to visit the city but on arrival , the manager of a travel agency directly encourages us to continue our way to the beaches of Sihanoukville telling us that there was little to see here (I regret a bit, having discussion with a couple who stayed 6 weeks there!). So here we come to the most famous beaches place in the country. 7 beaches , 7 atmospheres, so 7 types of holidays. I decided to go to the Otres beach on the boards of several people and take a tuk tuk with an American couple, Jack and Megan, with whom I sympathize quickly ! It was therefore decided to stay in the same place , in a place run by a French / Cambodian couple with a room facing the sea, perfect place to enjoy the tranquility of the sea once again boiling. During 3 days, we live quietly , we share a lot, we get long walks on the beach for several hours , and test local specialties on restaurants.

At the risk of unbearable to some of you readers, I must admit that this time I really saturate with beaches and I needed to see things that impress me, to go to meet local , rent a bike or motobike and let the wind bring me somewhere. So I decided to abandon the sea and the warm sand and go to the west of the country but with the Khmer New Year approaching, we do not necessarily decide where we are going, it’s more the buses and available seats that decide for us. So goodbye Battambang I wanted to see and I go direct to the famous Angkor temples in Siem Reap and then along the lake from the north before going to lose myself in all the east and mountains and ethical minorities. So I should soon talk to you about culture, pictures portraits and trek :)

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