I have successfully arrived to the second leg of my trip, where I will be spending the next 44 days traveling around Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos. I flew into Phnom Penh were I was immediately surrounded by the hustle of this capital city with a population of 1.4 million people. Talk about a culture shock after being in Bali for the past 5 weeks! I enjoyed having the time to unwind in Bali to relax and rejuvenate, but now it’s time to get my butt into gear as I will be visiting 3 countries and approximately 15 cities in the next month and a half.

I only stayed in Phnom Penh for 2 days, as I was egger to head north to Siem Reap to celebrate my birthday at the ancient ruins of Angkor Wat.  I decided to spend the day visiting Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum and the Killing Fields to learn a little about Cambodia’s more recent heartbreaking history. Between 1975-1979, the Khmer Rouge took power of Cambodia were they set up policies that disregarded human life and produced repression and massacres on a massive scale. They turned the country into a huge detention center, which later became a graveyard for nearly two million people.

It was extremely difficult visiting these sites and seeing first hand the devastation of their power over Cambodia but ,I thought it was important to learn first hand about the countries history. It helps to put things into perspective as you can see how much the country changed in the last 30 years, moving on from the past and focusing on a more peaceful future.    

From Phnom Penh I headed 6 hours north by bus to Siem Reap. The bus was kind enough to provided entertainment to get us through the long journey. For the first 2 hours we watched really cheesy (and I mean ridiculously cheesy) karaoke videos singing of love and heartbreak (not pop songs that you can sing along with…oh no…they were made up  .."When I met you, I knew I would love you forever."..fun times) In between the karoke jam session they played Tomb Raider…oh yes the movie that not only made Angela Jolie start adopting international children but what really propelled attention to Angkor Wat  and it’s magnificent beauty.

You could spend weeks exploring the 200 temples of Angkor Wat and the surrounding areas, I on the other hand decided to devote a day to touring the Grand Circuit. The day began watching the sunrise at the awe inspiring Angkor Wat Temple (see pic).  When looking at the temples you can not help but be amazed by the attention to detail and the artistic perfection. The temples are a great mixture that displays both Hindu and Buddhist images. (Other temples I visited - Sras Srang   Banteay Kdei  Pre Rup and East Mebon Ta Som   Preah Neak Poan   Preah Khan).
Shirley Fuller
2/2/2011 10:54:47 am

Hi Erika,What a trip you are having. You are doing an amazing job sharing it with all of us. Thank you! I am so amazed, and proud of you. Lots of love to you. Have a wonderful time and enjoy each minute of it.....although I am sure you are. Love, Aunt Shirley


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