Angkor Wat

-
Stig and ABAX Around the World look back on a wonderful visit to Cambodia. The country that holds so much forgotten history and impressive buildings. But also contains one of the darkest chapters in modern history.
ABAX and the Stig in Angkor Wat

Stig has passed Thailand and has spent the last few days in Cambodia, a country that in the 4th century was a prosperous and Asian empire. The symbol of a kingdom can be seen today with the temple complex Angkor Wat. As you can see in the pictures, it is not difficult to imagine that this must have been a very impressive sight in its heyday. The century of the war, colonisation, and not least, Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge’s rampage in the 70’s has left deep traces and are in both landscape and public consciousness.

Basse’s fact book about Cambodia:
    • Kambo Dias flag is the only one in the world which illustrates a building – Angkor Wat
    • Half of the Kambo Dias population are under 15 years
    • It is considered rude to point with their feet against others – if sitting, feet must be covered
    • Traditionally sweeps not birthdays in Cambodia. Many people, especially older people do not know how old they are
    • In Cambodia, the head is the most high-end part of the body and one should not touch the minds of people, not even caressing is accepted
Stig says:

We as photographers love the sunrise, and we hate tourists… for this reason Roger set up a “program" that we had to be up at 05:00, and get on our way. There’s nothing like sitting in the jungle and waiting for the sun. Pitch dark, fresh air and also a little exciting. Roger was right in both their arguments - Angkor temple at sunrise is amazing. We had picked out Ta Prohm as our place to witness the sunrise. Angkor Wat is  visited annually by over two million people. They passed 2 million visitors in 2012, and the number increased drastically, primarily from China and South Korea. Roger has been here twice before – the first time being in 2005. It was just one big hotel in town, most back packer places. No Hard Rock Cafe and "Pub streets" as today. The restoration had barely begun and one climbed around in the jungle to see temples. Today there is constant restoration, and conditions are right for mass tourism. Roger wondered when they were going to find the distinction between the resetting buildings and to keep it "would" discovered in the jungle at the end of 1800's. We have now been here for 3 days and I must say I have loved every single minute since we came here. Today we have seen temples located 8.7 mil from Siem Reap, and snapped some pictures of the countryside. You are not allowed to bring private cars or motorcycles into Angkor, as everything must be organized through local operators. It is important that the locals make their money on tourism. But for his own part, I had promised Kenneth Hansen in ABAX, pictures of the car in front of himself Angkor Wat (the most famous temple, and what most of us associate with the area). And has promised, you must keep. The car had to enter ... We studied the map and found out that we were going to try "back door" - the opposite of the city, it was not possible to ontrol there. And yes, the roads were really bumpy and bad, but no control. The pictures showthat we managed to get there. So now I hope Sandra Lindberg and not least Bjorn Erik Brandsæter Helgeland satisfaction. We are talking after all about one of the world's greatest art treasures and is close guarded :-). Most of the pictures of the round trip by car inside the Angkor are located on Roger’s camera. I embark on a few days, along with a bit more history about the town. I have now got an infection around the eye, and as far as I can with the "power" to open it, and in addition there are "photo eye" that I use in the camera, so hope pharmacist has something that works ..

Roger and I were having a few beers after a good dinner in Phnom Penh when we met our friend the Frenchman in a pub. The Frenchman was from Paris and visited Cambodia and Thailand to write a book.  Since I myself write travelogues, I found it quite natural to introduce myself as a writer. We became good friends.

It is important to see the world with new eyes, and Cambodia, as well as Vietnam and Laos, were French colonies as late as 1953. So reflection from former colonizers is important. If it helped me understand Pol Pot I am more unsure. Today we have been at the Killing Fields and set prison. And basically, I'm glad I'm a simple soul from Sørumsand, for Pol Pot, I will not understand. 3 years and eight months, from April 17, 1975, he killed 3 million of his own countrymen. Let's go back to 1969 to try to understand Pol Pot's idea. From that year until 1973, they bombed South Vietnam and the US countryside in Cambodia in an attempt to stop the Khmer Rouge, and the introduction of communism. As a result of this, 75% of all livestock died, and without animals, it was difficult to farm. The country was starved. Pol Pot wanted to restore agriculture - in itself a good thought. The problem was that he went too far ... In 1978-1979 they invaded the country of Vietnam and together with defectors from the Khmer Rouge, took control. Pol Pot and the guys stuck out in the jungle and hid. What happened next is not that easy to understand. Many countries, including the USA and China condemned the invasion and approved it in the UN. This meant that the Khmer Rouge retained its place in the UN and received significant financial support to continue the guerrilla war. Khmer Rouge led the country for another 20 years, until Pol Pot was put under house arrest in 1997. He died a year later, and every day until his death he heard, communist, the radio station "Voice of America".

I have left Cambodia after a week, a country that I'm reasonably sure I will return to. The temples of Angkor, people, atmosphere, food etc. are all simply worth it. It will also be interesting to follow Cambodia. They have a sad history of civil war and a sick dictator in the recent past, which also means that they have one of the world's youngest populations. But there is also a population which mostly has neither experienced civil war or the most tragic years of Pol Pot. Optimism blooms in Phnom Penh. Now they have found oil, they manage to overcome corruption (one of the world's most corrupt countries) so it's going to go well with Cambodia. Today we have been to see the castle and visited art galleries. Roger is interested in Modern Art, so we got to see about 5-6 different galleries. Cambodia is known as being a place that artists travel. This country gets the biggest recommendations from me. We managed to visit many temples during our days. Bayon and Ta Prohm are my favourites, I hope more of you get the chance to visit them - you will not be disappointed.

Do you have any tips for Stig about places he should see or visit, restaurants he should try? Send us an email to kha@abax.no or sal@abax.no

Click here to follow Stig's route in Google maps
ABAX and the Stig in Angkor Wat
ABAX and the Stig in Angkor Wat
ABAX and the Stig in Angkor Wat