Friday, November 28, 2008

polarity in cambodia

Cambodia is the Ecuador of Southeast Asia. In its capital, Phnom Penh, there is trash strewn on every street corner, roaming dogs with bellies full of swollen nipples, and beggars with another sympathetic story to hawk. I know you’re poor, Cambodia, but you’re not letting me enjoy you!

Phnom Penh was gross, frankly. With little to offer besides garish overpriced palaces funded by the French colonists and a former high school turned prison camp in the Khmer Rouge era. We did find a delightful little restaurant, Mama’s, around the corner from our hotel where we thoroughly enjoyed our three squares a day with the precious tiny daughter of Mama taking our order and meringue blaring on the stereo. Sick of modern Cambodia, we travelled back in time to visit ancient Khmer culture.

The Angkor temple complex is one of the most spectacular places I have been in my (fairly short) life.

It has huge repetitive tower-faces jutting up into the jungle trees, monkeys relaxing in the grass and giant trees spouting on top of temple walls, maneuvering their roots in through the ancient brickwork. To get between temples and back to town, we hired a tuk tuk (a motorcycle with a four seat Remarque attached to the back). In the middle of the second day, with the sun peaking through the thick canopy, soft, warm wind cooling my rosy cheeks, and beautiful rounded temple towers peeking through the forest, I felt real elation. Cambodia, you have redeemed yourself.

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