I have finished up five days in Siem Reap, touring the ruins of Angkor (which are amazingly impressive if also amazingly overrun by tourists), plus a side trip to Les Artisans d’Angkor’s silk farm, where I got a good look at Cambodian weaving and looms. This morning I took a boat from Siem reap, and just arrived in Phnom Penh, Cambodia’s capital. I’ve moderately adjusted to the temperature, which is to say that while it’s still insanely hot and humid, I’m at least no longer worrying about heatstroke. I’ve discovered that a vicious glare translates perfectly into every human language, and worked out most of the details for getting waiters to acknowledge my existence and get rid of amputee beggars. So all in all, I”m doing pretty well.
Today, and probably tomorrow, I’m going to be resting up and getting my website organized (whether I’ll be able to upload it is another matter), acclimating to Phnom Penh, and trying to fight off whatever virus/bacteria thingie has hold of my system. (I’m actually not sure it’s an illness; it could just be throat irritation from the amazingly poor air quality in Siem Reap. Someone is almost always burning *something* there; it makes Los Angeles look like the epitome of air quality, even at its smoggiest.)
After that, I’ll be out to explore, probably spending a day or two at the royal palace and museum, and then their holocaust museum (I can never remember the name–Tuol Sleng?), before moving on to Vietnam.
More details later; I haven’t had a decent night’s sleep in days, so I’m going back up to my hotel room to nap, lie around, rest, etc. for the rest of the day.
I should say that Cambodia isn’t as bad as I initially thought; it just operates by an entirely different set of rules. Once you work them out, it’s not too bad–though if you’re not prepared to cope with, say, a six-year-old child beggar with one leg blown off by landmines, or an eight-year-old boy with his face rotting away, you may want to skip it. (Beggars hang out around the ruins because that’s where all the wealthy tourists are.) Nonetheless, the ruins of angkor are just amazing. It’s been exhausting and a fairly major ordeal, but I’m glad I came here. Considering what they’ve been through, too, the people are amazingly friendly.
Anyway, I’m going back up to my room, where I’m living in air-conditioned luxury (hot shower and a BATHTUB, can you believe that?!?); after a nap, I’ll see if I can get my photos organized. I took over 500 photos in the ruins, and almost all of them are fantastic.