I arrived in Cambodia over 2 weeks ago. After my flight out of Nepal, which had about a quarter of the seats filled and had to make a pit stop in India to refuel, I changed in Kuala Lumpur to get my next flight to Siem Reap. At the airport I was welcomed by Sophia, who had come to pick me up with a tuk tuk. It was hot and humid, and I was in a new world again!
We (Sophia, me, and another friend from Berlin, Sabine) spent the next day, Sophia’s birthday, at Angkor: the largest temple complex and religious monument in the world. This UNESCO World Heritage Site consists of 50 or so 12th century Buddhist temples. We watched the sunrise over the majestic Angkor Wat, together with another hundred or more tourists. Then we visited Angkor Wat, various temples in Angkor Thom, and Ta Prohm (or, “the Tomb Raider Temple”). And always together with a stream of mainly Korean and Chinese tour groups. It’s not even high season, so I really don’t want to know what it’s like in December…
Back in Siem Reap we celebrated Sophia’s birthday some more. She wanted a balloon, but we ended up with a blow up punching shark, transformer masks, play dough cake, dangerous sparklers and a spray can that read “80%”. The following days were spent doing some more sightseeing around. The very best part of it was that when we went to a floating village (or actually village on stilts), there was a festival going on. Still not sure what the festival was about, but it took 3 days, and was celebrated by having a massive water fight. Our tuk tuk driver had already asked us the day before if we wanted to play “the fun game” but I was a little hesitant about the idea of throwing water bombs at locals… He didn’t explain that everyone was doing it. So when we did our little boat tour through the village, we took the boat onto the lake, Tonlé Sap, where various boats had gathered and were battling each other with plastic bags filled with water. We bought some plastic bags and prepared our ammunition. We went in and started hurling the little bombs, aiming at any opponent. Obviously, because we’re girls we can’t really throw that well ;-), but I think I hit a few targets! Mainly it was us getting hit though, because from the moment they realised that these 3 western girls were actually participating, we were everyone’s favourite target. And let me tell you, getting hit by a plastic bag filled with water HURTS. Soaked, bruised and smiles from ear to ear, we went back to Siem Reap.
Next we decided to go to Battambong, before heading to the beach. We took a boat that took about 7 hours and went through many many more floating villages and we waved at a lot of children. I’m not sure why they all like to wave at us, or why mothers hold up their naked babies and grab their little arms and wave at us with them, but it made me smile a lot.
In Battambong we saw millions of bats fly at sunset with a beautiful view over rainforest and hills. The following day we took a tour with the same tuk tuk driver who took us to the bats and visited a rather unimpressive “bamboo train”, and a few places where they made rice paper, rice noodles, rice wine and rice filled bamboo.