Seim Reap to Kampot
This business is breathtaking... Sometimes it lets me sometimes not. But now I am connected so quickly run the story...
As we had one more day paid for Angkor temples, we went a bit further afield - with our beloved Touk-touk as transport this time. One sits very comfortably in it and the motorcycle driver sits in front and one “touks” along.
Sometimes roads are tarmacked sometimes not. Particularly motor cars - the ones who own one - do not care a fig for slower vehicles and pass by in full speed and one can only close all openings of the head and breathe deeply before the event. BUT it is very reassuring to know that Germany is also involved in building and improving new roads. I found a leaflet explaining all the projects they are involved in together with a road map - and there are really improvements made till 2007.
The temple we saw in Banteay Srei was really the cream of fine stone carving - in credibly delicate - I added one picture to the photobucket. We also went into the mountains to see carvings into a rocky river bed from the 7th century. Just amazing! Klaus suffered a bit because he wore - yes Joerg - his shoes from the 1980s - Bally very special and what we thought soft. But he came back with four blisters - poor boy. But on the other hand, some youngster who overtook us was full of admiration and recognised at once the speciality on the mountain and a friendly-trendy conversation reduced the pain. From now on the order of the day was then rather to wear flip-flops.
Good for our feet that we embarked a ship from Siem Reap to Batambang. Quite a thing to enter the boat via a plank with all our gear – apart from the two shoulder bags in the meantime including two baskets full of new curtain material... It was incredible that there was a water way through the country at all because on the map nothing looked like a passage through swampy wide fields. (In the meantime I have discovered that there is a river with a name, Sangkerriver, drying out during the driest season of the year.
This is an interesting area of floating villages, very poor; the only thing for the fisherman to sell is fish and fish paste. We saw the stuff drying outside their boats. They fish with interesting constructions of spider-shaped poles where the net is being fixed to. The journey took 8.5 hours - nearly as long as a flight from London and it was very tiring next to being very interesting. Hot and crumbed among rucksacks and people, and more being picked up on the way, brought by little boats from their houseboats.
During a short stay at Battambang we saw a cooking school in a restaurant, where 5 westerners learned the finesses of Khmer cooking: Paying $8.- for 3 hours, this included going to the market and preparing three dishes, which everyone who cooked them had to eat (best way to learn is to taste ones mistakes).
In Battambang we also met a man who had a brilliant idea: he grew up in a village where his parents were so poor they could not feed him and his brother anymore (the father had suffered badly under the Khmer Rouge). The desperate mother brought the boys to the monks. Monks are allowed to beg for food in the streets - we saw them queuing up when we bought the bus tickets, they were served by the bus ticket vendor being thanked in return by prayers and all prayed together. This seems to be a daily ritual because the women were prepared.
The man we saw I n the street told us that the monks had changed his life. He learned from them to read and write, eventually from someone else also English. He became a touk-touk driver for a while and then he fulfilled his dream: he opened a school for English lessons in his village. The parents allowed their kids to learn but they did not/could not pay for the lessons. So he is going round tourists now to collect money and ask them to come and give lectures and conversation. He showed us his budget plan: he has already over 250 students and several teachers he trained and needs$ 6888.- a year for more teachers and books. He want to widen his area through a mobile library by touk-touks In result this would help to make children employable in hotels, shops etc - with English the door to the world opens. Check out the website someone created for him, search Google for:
“I support Narath's English school in Slakram, Battambang, Cambodia” (I found two other travel Blogs there who had visited his school and enjoyed it.
After a short stay in Phnom Pengh we are now in the south where we shall have a rest. There is one more beautiful 7th century temple in a cave with stalactites to be seen. It is great that we have taken with us the fantastic catalogue from the German exhibition in Bonn, Berlin and Zürich. Apart from the beautiful reproductions of statues there is a lot of background to be learned.
One nice little story at the end. It is forbidden to make photos at the Phnom Pengh museum. Ruthless as we are we still wanted some. I had worked out that I would make the photos without flash (my little camera has a special button for museums’ items). And Klaus was meant to make a list of the names and dates accordingly. As it often turns out in real life, it was Klaus who made the photos with his big Nikon hanging in front of his belly. He just fixed the mouth of the flash that it could not open and made the rattling shots, while I ran after him making the notes with number ref. Then I had to check the photos whether they were focussed – nerve-racking on the small screen! - Now we have some nice and some impressionist results. It was a nice extra fun that I found in the museum yard the big boxes in which the statues had been sent (by Lufthansa) to Germany and further (by Schenker) to the destinations. I saw even a plan, where the statue had been placed (in the expos or in PhnPnh?) Anyway, great satisfaction.
Now we have settled in a lovely room with our own terrace. Yesterday we experienced the heftiest rain storm in the best fish restaurant we have ever experienced (both). Home in touk-touk through lakes of water - not much of drains are visible but today the water was mostly gone.
Fair well all of you! I hope to get through to you more pictures next time.
Very best wishes from Klaus and Friederike