An Intrepid Tour Leader

by Marlo Perry

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8. Angkor

3rd May 2004
Sua s'di (hello)
That's about as good as my Khmer gets. Actually I also learnt how to count to 29. The number system is great because you only have to learn to five and then all other numbers are based around that. Unfortunately the written language is in Sanskrit so I can't actually read anything....

Had a great little training trip through Cambodia. Really enjoyed seeing everything I had read about in the Angkor Wat temple complex. WOW just doesn't sum it up. The trip spends three days hanging around Siem Reap the town closest to the ruins and we still don't get to see all the temples, that's how big the whole area is.

Of course we see the major ones; Angkor Wat and the Tomb Raider one. Night times are spent drinking Tomb Raider cocktails at the Angelina Jolie inspired pub. Also have to get up early and accompany the group on two sunrises over the area, 4:45am starts, ouch! I'm not looking forward to leading that too regularly!

Quick flight to Phnom Penh (PP), the capital of Cambodia. Nice little town, waterfront is being developed for tourists so some nice places to sit and people watch. Such a poor country, lots of NGOs setting up but a quick motorbike trip around town and you see where the directors are living, so I'm not sure if all the money is filtering down to where it should be going.

Did some trips around PP, very depressing looking at how the Khmer Rouge really f*^$#ed up their own people and country. Schools turned into prisons and torture rooms, mass graves, killing fields, landmines. Really screwed up and then to know that many of the leaders of the Khmer Rouge hold government positions today.

The local guides Intrepid uses in Cambodia are awesome. Rarn the guide in PP gave us a great insight into Cambodian life. Went and had dinner at his house. 43 people living in the one house, all the extended family. Great stories of corruption from Rarn.

He had just had a pretty bad motorbike accident. He was taken to hospital with his five year old daughter who was also pretty hurt (bled from her ear for five days!). The doctors wouldn't touch either of them until his wife arrived with some money half an hour later. His bike was wrecked and the police impounded it. It was the other drivers fault so the police made him pay $100 to Rarn, $80 for him and they would keep the other $20. When he went to pick up his bike the police had drained out all the petrol, taken out the battery and taken other parts as well. He had to push the bike home. Daily life in Cambodia!

I don't know how I feel about the country yet. Usually I get a pretty good feel about a place but I think I am still processing everything I saw, heard and experienced....
Marlo.

About the Author
Marlo Perry is a Group Leader for Intrepid Travel in South East Asia.

1. The Apprentice... 2. Trip One... 3. Half Way... 4. Tet... 5. Monkey Business... 6. Quick Turnaround... 7. Thai New Year... 8. Angkor... 9. Bangkok... 10. It Depends... 11. A&E... 12. Laos... 13. Routine... 14. Pig Rabies... 15. Burma... 16. Tsunami... 17. Songkran... 18. Sick Note... 19. Cycle Vietnam... 20. Street Kids... 21. My Life. Ideas Needed... 22. June Jambles...