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Cambodia:the country of contrast/Kambodza:krajina kontrastov

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Our expectations of Cambodia were fairly high as we have only heard and read good things about the country. We were looking forward to a new experience. To understand the country and it's people one probably has to look back into history: Cambodia reached its peek in the 9. to 13. century and the Khmer empire was as big as today's Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam combined. Art, culture and architecture reached its absolute summit and the charm of Angkor represents till this very day one of the most visited sights in Southeast Asia. The years between 1863 and the second WW were arguably the most influential for Cambodia and the French occupation and colonization shaped the face of many buildings in most cities. The years between 1970 - 1974 were times of distraction and suffering when the Khmer Rouge with Pol Pot as it's leader eradicated 2 million people for his radical communistic ideals. These times set the country back for centuries and Cambodia has to fight poverty, hunger, lack of healthcare and schools until today.

We started our journey in the city of Kampot. The city looks like a typical French colonial retreat with charming villas and boardwalks along the river. We also visited Bokor hill, which was in its thriving time a vivid French area with loads of casinos and resorts. Today it is merely a ghost town but the beautiful catholic church and the country side is definitely worth a visit. In the evening we took a romantic cruise ride on a typical local boat along the river.

Since the beginning I wanted to find a deserted island with a beautiful beach. So we embarked on this mission to make my wish come true. We took a motorboat from Sihanoukville to Koh Rong Samloem where we were the only passengers (of approximately 100 tourists on the boat) who would get of. We had to fight our way through the jungle full of apes, termites and lizards when we finally arrived on the other side at "Lazy beach". This was indeed the perfect destination with only 10 bungalows and a 1 km long beach. We had the perfect 4 days in paradise. We filled our days with reading, playing Scrabble, snorkeling and perfect sunsets.

Refilled with energy we visited the capital (or in other words - bigger village) Phnom Penh. The city in itself is in our opinion not very attractive as poverty is ever present and garbage is piling up along the dusty roads. The city is developing fast but with no infrastructure, which results into constant traffic jams due to lack of streets and too many cars. There are however a few things which make it worth paying a visit to the city. We saw the killing fields Choeung Ek and the prison S21. These sights depict perfectly the horrific scenery of the times of Khmer Rouge and one has the feeling that the air is still filled with a slight scent of death. The brutality of the red Khmer was terrifying. The history is explained with audio guides which saddened and upset most visitors and ourselves while strolling over the fields listening to individual stories. However these harsh sights are a witness to history and should not be forgotten. People, local and foreign should be reminded of this senseless suffering so history will not repeat itself. The next day we visited the royal palace, the national history museum, the Wat Phnom pagoda and the market hall. We enjoyed the tuk tuk rides around the city. At one point we were coughing strong enough due to the heavy dust that the tuk tuk driver would buy mouth masks for us. At the third day we decided that we had enough of the city and departed (with a 7:1 win against Brazil...schlaaand ;) to Siem reap.

The biggest cultural highlight was next, the temples of Angkor. We stayed in a nice little pension named Schein, which is led by a German. He told us many stories and his view on things based on living in Siem reap. Corruption is one of the biggest issues for the country to tackle and most wealth is distributed only among a few families and the police. We felt that the lack of education holds many unsurmountable obstacles for Cambodia. Humanitarian aid from foreign countries is huge but this leads also to dependency and a passive approach to self-sustainability. Children are often as little as two hours at school before going into the streets to beg. Kids often followed us to sell anything and everything. Siem reap is very young and we had the feeling that it's sole purpose is to host tourist for the Angkor temples. If we were to recommend anything other than the before mentioned sights than it would be the Phare circus. We enjoyed an evening show with highly talented artists. The circus is a project supported by a Cambodian charity organization who look after children in need, it was a spectacular show...

The temples of Angkor deserve their own paragraph... ;) We bought a three day pass for 40 $ and went every day to see different temples. After the third day cycling we saw so many different temples that we dreamed of Buddha figures and temples. Needless to say that many of them were simply beautiful and emitted a special aura. Zuzka always said that it reminded her of the jungle book. Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom and Ta Prohm (the one from the movie Tomb raider) are the ones who stood out most for us. The heat and jungle humidity forced us to stop every other hour to have a delicious mango or coconut juice.

Cambodia is a land of contrasts. It left us with mixed feelings and many emotions. The nature is breathtaking and the people are very friendly. The admiration of beautiful sights was always accompanied with sad facts about at least in parts a horrific history. We would however recommend to see the country as many of the most memorable moments are not always the most comfortable ones. The neighboring countries are far more developed, but this leaves Cambodia often charming and authentic. With Cambodia ended also the World Cup for us. Now we only have to figure out what to do at 2 or 3 am in the morning ;). Next stop: Bangkok.

...

Ked sa cestovatelov v juhovychodnej Azii opytate, ktora krajina sa im najviac pacila, velka vacsina z nich odpovie: Kambodza. A tak aj my sme sa sem velmi tesili a nase ocakavania boli vysoke. Aby clovek dobre porozumel, treba na zaciatok povedat par slov o kontroverznych dejinach. V 9.-13.storoci dosiahla Khmerska risa najvacsieho rozsahu a rozkladala sa na zemi dnesnej Kambodze, Thajska, Vietnamu a Laosu. Umenie, kultura a architektura boli na absolutnom vrchole a dodnes su chramy v Angkore najmajestatnejsou pamiatkou regionu. Dolezitym milnikom historie je kolonialna era, Francuzi ovladali toto uzemie od roku 1863 do konca 2.svetovej vojny. Posilnili poziciu krala, zasluzili sa o rozvoj skolstva a zdravotnictva a ziskali naspat uzemie Angkoru a Battambangu od Thajskeho kralovstva. Zo sokujucich rokov 1970-74 sa spamatava krajina dodnes. Rezim Cervenych Khmerov pod vedenim Pol Pota, ktory vystudoval pedagogiku v Parizi, vyhladil 2 miliony obyvatelov - vsetkych vzdelanych ludi, rebelov, mestske obyvatelstvo. V snahe vybudovat idealnu komunisticku krajinu v rekordnom case (navrat k rolnictvu a zivotu na vidieku) vratil Kambodzu do doby kamennej. Dnes, 40 rokov po tragickych udalostiach krajina stale bojuje s hladom, chudobou, s nedostatkom zdravotnej starostlivosti a skol.

My sme zacali nasu dvojtyzdennu cestu na juhovychode v mestecku Kampot. Je to prototyp francuzskeho kolonialneho letoviska s pekne zachovanymi vilami a promenadou pri rieke. V podstate tu skapal pes, ale atmosfera je velmi romanticka :) Spravili sme si vylet do vrchov Bokor, kde si Francuzi vybudovali svojho casu luxusny rezort s kasinom, hotelom a vilami pre vyvolenych. Dnes je to take mesto duchov, ale stary katolicky kostolik rozhodne stoji sa navstevu. Vecer sme si sprijemnili plavbou na lodicke a pozorovali krasny zapad slnka.

Od zaciatku cesty snival Tobi o "opustenej plazi na ostrove", a tak sme sa ju vydali hladat. Presunuli sme sa do Sihanoukville, kde sme hned nasadli na motorovy cln a zaviezli sa na ostrov Koh Rong Samloem. Z asi 100-clennej posadky sme tam vystupili jedini. Dobry start. Aby sme sa dostali do nasho ciela, Lazy Beach, cakala nas este polhodinova tura dzunglou na druhu stranu ostrova. Opice, termitiska a jasterice nam sprijemnili cestu a v cieli nas naozaj cakala asi kilometrova opustena plaz s 10 bungalovmi. Lazy Beach bola zatial jednoznacne najkrajsia plaz a najlepsie miesto na oddych. Neuveritelne zapady slnka, snorchlovanie, voda fosforeskujuca v tme a absolutna pohoda...to boli nase 4 dni v raji (samozrejme bez internetu a bez signalu).

Plni energie sme sa teda vydali do hlavneho mesta (alebo hlavnej dediny, podla toho ako definujete mesto) Phnom Penh. Ako som uz naznacila, vela krasy toto mesto nepobralo. Prasne ulice, kopy odpadu a chudoba. Par veci tu ale stoji za to vidiet, my sme si ich rozdelili na 2 dni. Killing fields Choeung Ek a vazenie S21 su len pre silne zaludky, ukazuju totiz brutalitu rezimu Cervenych Khmerov a po ich prehliadke sme toho vela nenahovorili. V Kambodzi ale maju pravdu, tieto udalosti je treba ukazat a hovorit o nich, aby sa uz nikdy viac nezopakovali. Na dalsi den sme si pozreli kralovsky palac, historicke muzeum, pagodu Wat Phnom a obrovsku trznicu. Celkom sme si uzivali jazdu po meste na tuk tuku, aj ked nam od prachu tak skripali zuby, ze nam jeden tuk tukar kupil rusky na usta :) Na treti den sme sa rozhodli, ze uz stacilo a semifinalovu vyhru Nemecka 7:1 nad Braziliou sme oslavili odchodom do Siem Reap.

Cakal nas teda kulturny vrchol, chramy Angkoru. Ubytovali sme sa vo velmi sympatickom penzione Schein, ktory vlastni Nemec Reinhard. Porozpraval nam vela zaujimavosti zo zivota v Kambodzi. Korupcia je najvacsim problemom krajiny, vacsinu majetku ovlada 10 najbohatsich rodin a bohuzial najlepsie ziveni ludia su policajti. Slovo cistota tu ma uplne iny zmysel a odpad sa volne povaluje po domoch a uliciach. Krajina sice dostava vela humanitarnej pomoci, ale bohuzial sa na nu niekedy az prilis spolieha. Najhorsi je nedostatok ucitelov a celkovy stav skolstva - deti su v skole 2 hodiny denne a potom predavaju turistom suveniry na ulici. To sa v plnej krase ukazalo prave pri chramoch, kde nas neustale nahanali zobrajuce alebo predavajuce deti. Siem Reap je mesto bez duse, sluziace jedinemu ucelu - ist sa pozriet na chramy Angkoru. Jeden vecer ale Tobi zbadal cirkus a tak sme vyrazili. Bol to neuveritelny zazitok. Artisti pochadzaju z nadacie Phare Ponleu Selpak, ktora v meste Battambang pomaha detom z chudobnych rodin, poskytuje im vzdelanie, a to aj umelecke. Z nadacie vzisli hudobnici, cirkusanti, maliari a sperkari. V Siem Reape si to urcite nenechajte ujst!

No a aby som sa dostala k tym chramom... Rozhodli sme sa kupit si trojdnovu permanentku za 40 $, dalsia varianta je sedemdnova, na to by sme uz asi nemali trpezlivost. A naozaj, za tri dni sme videli tolko chramov, ze sme sa fakt museli sustredit, aby sme ich vedeli ocenit. Prvy den sme zvolili aktivnejsi sposob dopravy, bicykel, a presli sme si takzvany Petit Circuit, najznamejsie stavby ako Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom a Ta Prohm (to je ten zarasteny stromami z filmu Tomb raider). Druhy a treti den sme vyrazili na oblubenom tuk tuku a navstivili sme vzdialenejsie pamiatky. Najviac sa nam pacili chram Pre Rup osvetleny rannym slnkom, ruzova nadherne zdobena hinduisticka svatyna Banteay Srei a umelo vytvoreny ostrov Neak Pean. Kazdy den sme horucavu museli prekladat mangovym dzusom, kombinacia ostreho slnka s vlhkostou v dzungli bola moc uz aj pre nas ostrielanych cestovatelov ;)

Kambodza je krajina kontrastov. Co ale zanecha su emocie. Obdiv nadhernych pamiatok z cias rozkvetu a smutok z neludskych zlocinov, ktore na Khmeroch boli spachane. Este bude dlho trvat, kym sa dostane na uroven bohatsich susedov Vietnamu alebo Thajska. Rozhodne ale treba prekonat pohodlie a vyrazit, najsilnejsie zazitky nie su vzdy len tie prijemne. S poslednym dnom v Kambodzi skoncili aj Majstrovstva sveta vo futbale (k Tobiho velkej radosti, aj ked sme pri finale obidvaja zaspali), budeme si musiet najst novu zabavu na 2.hodinu v noci :)

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Posted by zuzana.zav 05:01 Archived in Cambodia

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Zdravim ostrielanych cestovatelov :) takze Kambodza je uz za vami? Konecne som si vsimla tricko wuhuu velmi ti svedci ;) mangovy dzus kazdodenny vam uprimne zavidim, od Kuby (a po Kube uz ani moc nie, kedze ho nie je kde zohnat :D) je to moj najoblubenejsi drink

Marne tu klikam na fotky a snazim sa ich zvetsit...chcelo by to whatsapp ;)

by Jarka

Ahojky ;-) parada, je neuveritelne,kolko toho uz mate za sebou a ake zazitky na cely zivot z toho budete mat ;-) Zuzik,podla fotiek si velmi schudla,nezabudajte aj na fyzicku stravu okrem tej dusevnej :-D
Ake su dalsie destinacie? Na ake pribehy sa mozem tesit?
Pozeravujem,gratulujem majstrovi sveta a davajte si pozor :-)
Vika

by Vikinka

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