Come along for the journey!

Come along for the journey!

Thursday, 11 February 2010

TOMB RAIDER: (Angkor Wat, Cambodia)

Cycling around Angkor Wat with a nice Italian guy, Fabio, we couldn't resist the urge for some silliness.

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

ROUGE IS THE NEW BLACK: (Angkor Wat, Cambodia)

I enjoy coming up with tabloid-esque headings for my inane ramblings. A guilty pleasure. We visited the impressive ancient ruins of Angkor Wat, the proud, talismanic, and iconic temples of the Cambodian people that can even be found on the national flag. Originally the burial sites of 12th century kings, then the tranquil domain of Mahayanan Buddhist monks, followed by target practice for the fiercely atheist Khmer Rouge, the huge site now serves as stomping ground for tourists like us, and a livelihood for hundreds of locals who peddle their mock-up carvings and coconut drinks for good price sir.

As we wandered through the mystical passages and the tourist souvenir gauntlet, we chanced on this pleasant gentleman [in photo] in a red plaid scarf, popularised by the Khmer Rouge. It was difficult to figure out whether this still popular fashion accessory pre-dated the Ultra-Communist movement and therefore is rooted in the Cambodian culture, or if it was one of those 'silver lining' remnants of the war. Answers on a post card to our genocide fashion memorabilia competition.

Saturday, 6 February 2010

THE KILLING FIELDS: (Phnomh Penh, Cambodia)

In the mood for a relaxing day out, we headed for the S21 genocide museum , which houses exhibits in the actual prison found abandoned by the Thai army upon freeing the capital from Pol Pot's regime. The army found people still on the beds, dead but recently tortured. The exhibits are pretty brutal and hard-hitting - the photo's of what was found are there on the wall of the room you are in; the graves outside the room contain the remains of the victims. We felt pretty nauseous.

Aside from the blood and guts of it, and knowing that between 1 and 3 million people lost their lives to this sick movement, I think I was most appalled by the way it appeared Pol Pot tried to outlaw love, creating an allegiance to the state through instilling mistrust of everyone around you. How the country has recovered to the degree it has is amazing. There are obviously still scars though: It's so weird to think that anyone of my age and older will have first hand memory of the genocide - the whole country was literally in ruins. Our rickshaw driver lost 5 of his 11 siblings. Apparently, Duch, the person who ran the S21 prison, deeply regrets the atrocities he committed and accepts full responsibility having had a 'death bed conversion'. We're having one of those built for my mother on our new house.

Next stop was the killing fields where thousands of people were taken to their death for being an enemy of the new state, or simply for wearing glasses. We finished the day watching 'The Killing Fields' film with our family friend Patrick in it. Altogether, a pretty harrowing day.

Thursday, 4 February 2010

BURNT TWICE: (Phu Quoc, Vietnam)

Vietnam, like some of its neighbours, has a gift for 'ripping off' household name products. It's ever so tempting to get caught up in this 'grey market' economy, cashing in on luxury products at a fraction of the price…and it's only the corporate rich bods at Versace and co. that are losing out right? We expect budget prices for some fake Ray Ban sunnies, so why should we be so annoyed when the cheap Factor 81 Sunscreen isn't quite the quality sun protector it claims to be? Steeped in our double standards, we expect to get ripped off sunnies, but don't expect to get ripped off with dud lotion. The 'factor 81 protection' should have given us a clue that we'd fry at the beach that day!

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

ALICE: (Phu Quoc, Vietnam)

We've just spent a week on the charming island of Phu Quoc - including 2 days with our mates George & Zoe. Aside from giggling like little girls every time we say the name of the island, we've had a really relaxing time. Now this is going to sound pretty annoying to y'all in the snow working 9-5, but travelling is actually pretty hard work! I deserve some stick for that, but we're pretty busy with the business of continually moving: the usual routine involves finding places to eat, waiting forever to do so, moving location every couple of days, finding available cheap accommodation, getting ripped off and 'lost' (taken to cousins hotels) by rickshaw drivers, unpacking and packing, feeling slightly compelled at times to see the sights as we'll not likely be there again for some time / at all…you get the picture. It's fabulous, we're loving it, but it's busy. So it's nice to slow down a bit. Our week on the beach was topped off when chatting to Steve & Megs whilst she was having her contractions! We were so thrilled to be so connected to life at home, and even more thrilled to get news of the safe and happy arrival of little Alice Dalton!