Tag Archives: siem reap

Dinosaur Bones

10 Mar

So today we got to hold real dinosaur bones! And get a sneak preview of some very large, very impressive, and as yet unidentified skeletal pieces from a dig a few miles away last month, still in the red rock that holds them. (No photos, sadly, for reasons of academic privacy.)

It’s a rather eerie feeling, encountering something so old, so close. A surprisingly delicate chunk of the hipbone of an as yet unidentified carnivore, it looked as though the creature could have been alive within my lifetime, yet weighed cold, dead and heavy in my hands. Continue reading

I Heart Cambodia – Part 3

23 Feb

A fraction of the moat at Angkor Wat

A fraction of the moat at Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat. The icon of a nation. One of the wonders of the world. Tens of kilometres of bas-relief. Acres of lawns. Sacred pools which drained a thousand reservoirs.

I am grubby, gobsmacked and tired just from looking at it.

Z is incensed. “Just think how many houses they could have built on this land,” he says. “And that stupid king just goes and builds a temple to say, ‘I’m bigger than you.’ Religion is rubbish.” Continue reading

I Heart Cambodia – Part 2

22 Feb
Children in Jungle Vines, Ta Prohm

Z and a child hawker take time out, Ta Prohm, Cambodia

It’s still uncomfortably early when we debike and hit some blessed calm at Kbal Spean, the River of a Thousand Lingas.

The mile-long path to the top of the hill has been swept clean as a village yard, and cheeutal roots form an elegant latticework, almost like natural stairs.

Ascents of grey, slabby rocks feel almost landscaped, and looping vines create natural swings and hammocks.

Z is in his element. I am in the throes of wondering at the marvels of travel and the joy of life — more specifically, I am pointing out a promising Tarzan vine — when my flip-flopped foot meets a rock and it all goes a bit Keystone Kops. Continue reading

I Heart Cambodia – Part 1

19 Feb

sun starting to set over angkor watZ and I are sitting in pitch blackness on the laterite stairs overlooking the lake of Banteay Kdei, Cambodia, between a sculpted Khmer lion and the light of a Chinese guy’s tripod, some unsightly period before 6am.

Tourist lore dictates that, when experiencing the grandeur of the Khmer god-kings, and the Angkor sights, one sees a sunrise. Holding to the belief that sunrises are best experienced without busloads of fellow travellers, I have picked Banteay Kdei as being less crowded than Ta Prohm.

“You wan’ buy flute?” asks a boy, who is probably in his early teens, for perhaps the fifteenth time.

“No, thank you,” I say, for probably the thirteenth time. “I do not want to buy a flute. I no want flute. Thank you.”

The per capita income in Cambodia is around $2000. When you take the elite out of the equation, it means most people earn very much less than that.

“I make you good price! One dollar!!! For your baby!” Continue reading

Doctor Fish

17 Feb

Pedicure with Cleaner FishDowntown Siem Reap, your starter for ten for the glories of the Angkor era, is tacky as hell.

Yet, while a banner boasting “the most frozen margaritas sold in Siem Reap” does not exactly entice one to imbibe, the constant offers of tuktuks pall rapidly, there really is a street called Bar Street and the central market really does sell landmine T-shirts, it is a beautiful thing to have a cashpoint on every corner in the 200 square yard action zone and to know that the pharmacy will stock more than iodine and gauze.

End result? We did the doctor fish thing. It was Z’s idea. Continue reading

Rules and Regulations

17 Feb

David is building an airfield.

He has five planes waiting to go, two in Thailand, two en route, one awaiting release in Sihanoukville. So he spends most days in the guesthouse restaurant, one hand on his mobile, the other on his laptop, waiting for the results of his bakhsheesh to kick in.

Continue reading