It’s a pity that you cannot take pictures on borders, because the one between Thailand and Cambodia is perfect for it. When you are approaching it, you feel that something is happening… and when you’re inside, you realize that what it happens is that you just going back in time.
Few cars or vans pass, neither trucks, despite there´s a continuous transfer of goods. Trucks full of ginger, potatoes, fabrics or anything salable, defying the law of gravity and pushed by people.
A simple life, basic houses above the water, dusty roads, bicycles everywhere, new ways of transporting animals, people and all sorts of things.
A few kilometers from the border we met with “Wan”, a Chinese cyclist who will be approximately 3 months around these countries, although we lost him in the middle of the way. Two days later we found him taking pictures at the Temples of Angkor, and he explained us that after 30 km he realized that the brakes were blocked and that was why he was so, so slow…
Another big change is felt in the road of this country is the amount of bicycles that run through them… the road is full of boys and girls cycling to their schools… their greetings and laughter make us happy with each pedal. It is impressive to see them how they manage with their bicycle, though some of them don´t even reach the pedals.https:You can see the video.
Thinking that between 1975 and 1979, the use of bicycles and any other vehicle was forbidden. Also in those four years a quarter of the population, 1.7 millions of human beings, was disappeared, currency was abolished, as well as market and school, any urban infrastructure was destroyed and all Cambodians were moved to the countryside to work in the rice production… all this and much more was made by Pol Pot, dictator, main leader of the Khmer Rouge and the biggest sanguinary in the history… I´m not gonna keep writing because it could convert into a book, but if you’re interested in learning more, you can see these documentaries that have seemed to us hard but very interesting… We believe that it is worth to take the time to see them:
Chapter 1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wv4qneo7sVs
Chapter 2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=snlp3dYHzho
Chapter 3: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6iFlqUU_9oY
Now Cambodians live calmer, although the shadow of the past of horror is in the eyes of many. Today still noone has been judged for this genocide, and nothing of this part of Cambodian history is tought in schools… Many grandchildren live completely unrelated to the torture that grandparents could suffer.
The Road teaches us how Cambodians live, jobs lost in our world, that once again make you return back in time. Now they have to pick up the rice and they leave it dry in the Sun on palm mats. After the monsoon the Tonle Sap Lake grows so much that lots of wetlands are created all around, and people and animals take advantage of this.
We rest in Siem Reap from the strong sun we had the last days, and visited the ancient city of Angkor, whose monuments and temples were declared World Heritage by Unesco in 1992. Between 9th and 15th centuries, Angkor´s heyday, it became the biggest and more developed city in the world. If you want to know about its interesting history you can see this documentary: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zgj3e15w4lE
The strong heat kept us refugees in our hotel, enjoying the rest, the cool of the pool and “Non Pem” company, the daughter of the owners. Knocking our door was the first thing she did when she woke up or came back from school… Non Peeemmmm!! She repeated us, insisting in the final “m”… and as much as we tried to reproduce her name, it wasn´t possible for us… these tourists! (she would say). If you want to try by yourself, click here.
The following nights we discovered that also Cambodian temples open their doors with total normality, and that they are more social centres than in Thailand, so you can have neighbors during the night (like a nice crazy woman that we met in one of them), or you have to wait to eat or sleep because the monks are giving classes to children from the surrounding area (VIDEO), or you have to wake up at four in the morning with the prayers of a group of men and women dressed in white…
We reached Battambang quite fast, where we decided to eat well, after the days in Siem Reap, where we were eating almost just white rice, for not paying the tourist-price you found all over the city. What we didn´t know was that this wonderfull dinner was the goodbye party of my Appendix…
I was very lucky because the appendicitis happen to me in a city, and not in the middle of the mountain, hehe. Within hours I was operated and after 5 days in the hospital, I was restoring forces at “Au Cabaret Vert”, a charming hotel where everybody took care of me, preparing the juices, fruits and foods I wanted, and where they made us feel like at home. We also had the company of Laura and Aitor for a few days, who had to change his plans to attend an event of travelers in Dubai (they were invited by an Arab Sheik) . And Zigor was the one who took the biggest part, taking care of me at all time, and manteining a continuous communication, not very friendly, with our insurance. Thank you all I could dedicate myself exclusively to rest and recover.
Besides, as many of you told me, there is no a bad thing that doesn’t bring something good… less weight…
And as Cambodia visa was finished, we left the bicycles in Battambang and flew to Chiang Mai, North of Thailand, to recover completely and to investigate the Thai massage schools, because in a few months I want to deepen into this world.
Crafts, movies, naps, walks, shopping at the market, meeting with special people… this is what we´re doing here. In addition to becoming addicted to papaya… we have eaten over 50 kilos these days.
Well, and also planning and changing, planning and changing, until we decided to leave Chiang Mai on 21st toward Cambodia and return by bicycle. Here we are going to leave again all our things and travel for a few days in the South of Thailand with Anita and Migue (two very good friends from Spain), who are coming for holiday… we go to the beach!!
I feel with strength and eager to come back to roll… we´ll tell you how it has gone the return.