THINGS TO DO AND SEE IN CAMBODIA
Our trip to Cambodia leT us to know the Khmer people, very moving in its hospitality and not for nothing that the nation is also called the land of smiles … more so after going around here, one wonders how it could born a tragedy of gigantic proportions as the genocide against his own people by Pol Pot and his Khmer Rouge. Among the places to visit in Cambodia all know the Angkor complex, but many other places are unknown and deserve to be seen …
Here’s what you want to see and visit if you decide to take a trip in Cambodia:
– The complex of Angkor: Cambodia and tell you immediately jumps to mind that pearl of Khmer architecture that stands out in the jungle, made even more Magical by the action of time and nature slowly takes possession of gardens, rocks and a room time making up the capital of the kingdom. Angkor is a chimera, a dream for any traveler landing and despite the millions of tourists that now assail the ruins every day, wait until the sun rises and sets on the convoluted spiers of Angkor Wat or the many faces of the Bayon is a thrill unmissable.
National museum of Angkor
The Angkor National Museum rises steeply from the road leading to the archaeological site and is a very modern building which will contain the Khmer civilization and the majesty of Angkor. Visitors pass through the impressive rooms of the museum observing the exhibits thematic basis taking into account the age, of religion and of royal dynasties.
After a brief presentation you enter the “Gallery of the Thousand Buddhas”, Zen-style, which houses a fine collection of sculptures. Other collections exhibited treat periods preangkoriani Funan and Chenla, the great Khmer kings, Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom and the inscriptions.
The presentations include interactive video, voice-overs of epic and the chance to witness a picturesque sunrise Angkor Wat, but despite all this deployment of modern technologies, the number of sculptures on display seems less than the National Museum in Phnom Penh. That said, the visit to the museum is still a very useful experience for those who went to Angkor for the first time, as it allows you to get an overview of the site and the history of the Khmer Empire before visiting the temples. The entrance fee (US $ 12) is a po’caro, considering that with US $ 20 you can access all the temples of Angkor. Visitors also have to pay even $ 2 to use the camera, although it is not possible to take pictures anywhere, and the audio guide costs another US $ 3. Attached to the museum is the “Cultural Mall”, with shops, exhibition halls and coffee, which is not very popular, however.
– Phnom Penh, the capital formerly known as the Pearl of Asia is slowly returning to the ancient splendor, but try not to forget the terrible suffering inflicted on its people during the government Polpottiano just over thirty years ago. The Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda overlooking the Tonle Sap River, the huge boulevard, the chaotic central market and the narrow bustling streets of the city are worth a visit as it is a must visit prisons reflection of Tuol Sleng and the extermination camp of Choeung Ek. For more information see how to discover the capital of Cambodia, Phnom Penh.
Tuol Sleng Museum
In 1975 the High School Tuol Svay Prey was occupied by the security forces of Pol Pot, used as a maximum security prison with the name of S-21 and was soon transformed into the main center of detention and torture in the country. Between 1975 and 1978 more than 17,000 people imprisoned in S-21 were conducted in the fields of Choeung Ek extermination.
The S-21 is now the Tuol Sleng Museum, the purpose of which is to witness the crimes of the Khmer Rouge.
Similarly the Nazis, the leaders of the Khmer Rouge were in the habit of meticulously recording their barbarism. Every prisoner who entered S-21 was photographed, sometimes before and after being tortured. In different rooms of the museum is a continuation of a series of harrowing photographs in black and white men, women and children, almost all later killed. You can deduct the year in which the photograph was taken from the number on the chest of the prisoners. Also several foreign nationals, from Australia, New Zealand and the United States, were detained and then murdered. It pays to hire a guide to know the history of some of the people in these photos.
Reached the height of folly, the “revolution” of the Khmer Rouge began to devour itself. Generations of torturers and executioners who worked in the prison were themselves eliminated by other ruthless torturers who took their place. Early in 1977, while raging purges among the party cadres of the east, the S-21 boasted an average of a hundred victims a day.
When the Vietnamese army liberated Phnom Penh in early 1979 in the S-21 found alive only seven prisoners that to survive they had used their talent as painters and photographers. Fourteen others were tortured to death while Vietnamese forces were nearing the city. Today, in the rooms where their bodies were found decomposing a series of photographs documenting their horrific end; They were buried in the yard next door.
The visit to the Tuol Sleng is an experience definitely shocking, made even more terrible ordinariness of the place: the peripheral zone, the bad school buildings, the green area where now the boys playing football, the cots rusty, tools of torture and a series of walls covered with portraits evoke distressing images disconcerting facial worst of human beings, the dark and disturbing that lurks in all of us. The visit to the Tuol Sleng is not so for everyone.
Much of what you see at Tuol Sleng is the work of the Documentation Center of Cambodia (DC-Cam; www.dccam.org), established in 1995 as part of the Cambodian Genocide Program (www.yale.edu/cgp ) from Yale University, a research and documentation of the crimes committed by the Khmer Rouge, transformed into an independent organization in 1997. For years researchers are dedicated to the translation of the confessions and the bureaucratic documentation found in Tuol Sleng, the mapping the mass graves and the registration and preservation of evidence of the crimes committed by the Khmer Rouge.
The Bophana film, made in 1996 by the French-cambodian Rithy Panh, tells the true story of Hout Bophana, a beautiful girl, and Ly Sitha, a regional leader of the Khmer Rouge, who, who fell in love of each other, are forced to pay for this “crime” with imprisonment and the death sentence in S-21. It’s definitely worth spending an hour to the vision of this moving documentary that airs everyday at 10 and 15. In addition, a slide show of the DC-Cam is held on Mondays and Fridays at 14 and Wednesdays at 9.
National Museum of Cambodia
Located just north of the Royal Palace, the National Museum of Cambodia is housed in an elegant brick building with a lovely courtyard garden, designed in the traditional style between 1917 and 1920. The museum houses the finest collection of Khmer sculptures existing in the world, a secular heritage that bears witness to the degree of excellence achieved already in ancient times by artists Khmer.
The museum consists of four pavilions overlooking the lovely garden. Almost all visitors follow the route running clockwise in the chronological order of the collection. The first major work of art you will see is a large fragment (which includes relatively intact head, shoulders and arms) of a huge bronze statue depicting Vishnu lying, recovered in 1936 in the western Mebon temple, near Angkor Wat.
Proceeding in hall to your left you can admire the works of the period preangkoriano documenting the evolution of the sculpture, the uniquely human forms of Indian art to those of a more spiritual and the divine taken by the Khmer sculpture between the fifth and eighth centuries. Among the most extraordinary highlight an impressive eight-armed statue of Vishnu of the sixth century, found in Phnom Da, and that of Harihara, which combine the attributes of Shiva and Vishnu, from Prasat Andet, in the province of Kompong Thom. The collection includes magnificent Angkor statues of Shiva dating from the ninth, tenth and eleventh centuries, a pair of giant apes fighting each other (Koh Ker, X century), a beautiful stone stele from Oddar Meanchey, on which are carved scenes the life of Shiva, and the beautiful statue of Jayavarman VII (reigned 1181-1219), depicted in a sitting position and with his head slightly bowed in the attitude of meditation (Angkor Thom, late twelfth century).
The museum exhibits a collection of ceramics and bronzes dating back to periods preangkoriani Funan and Chenla (from the fourth to the ninth century), the period Indravarman (from ninth to tenth century) and the classical Angkorian period (from the tenth to the fourteenth century), as well more recent works such as the magnificent Royal Barge wood.
Inside the museum, unfortunately, you can not take photographs – only in the courtyard. There are guides who speak English, French and Japanese (US $ 6). The counter input you can buy a handy booklet, The New Guide to the National Museum (US $ 10), while the smallest Khmer Art in Stone gives a description of some of the most important exhibits (US $ 2).
– The floating village of Kompong Luong: On Lake Tonle Sap are dozens of ethnic Vietnamese villages whose inhabitants spend the quiet life on boats converted into houseboats … everything is present and available water: fruits and vegetables, phones, petrol, schools, kindergartens, fish but also chickens and pigs … a veritable floating city!
– Cardamom Mountains: mysterious and unexplored until a couple of years ago, these mountains covered by dense forest have been for years a land of bandits and smugglers who came here to escape the law. Slowly ecotourism is making inroads in this natural paradise full of flora and fauna: elephants, tigers, crocodiles and thousands of birds inhabit the mangrove forests near rivers and the sea … to explore on board a boat or an SUV.
– The complex of Koh Ker and Preah Vihear: the wonder of Angkor is becoming a place often a bit ‘too busy but the Khmer kingdom left, scattered throughout the cambodian and elsewhere, hundreds of remains and ruins to demonstrate its resplendent past. The complex of Koh Ker and Preah Vihear are only two examples of the most valid, uncontaminated and dipped in giungla.
– The reserves of Ang Trapeang and Tmatboey: not far from Siem Reap, respectively north-west and north-east, there are these two nature reserves haven for birdwatchers and nature lovers in general. Reserves and Ang Trapeang Tmatboey are sanctuaries for the giant crane antigone and ibises and spallebianche. Immersed in rural Cambodia, as well as contact with an exuberant nature, these goals will grant an insight into the real life of rural paese.ang Trapeang
-The Coastal areas of Sihanoukville in Cambodia say the sea is to speak of the coastal area of Sihanoukville. The city is more and more a favorite destination for Asian tourists but also the West and the problem of child prostitution began to spread … the seabed clean and white sandy beaches still give here as well as on the island of Koh Kong relaxing oasis.
– The Mekong in Kratie and Stung Treng, the river more mythical Asian preserves one of the most endangered cetacean in the world in the area between southern Laos and northeastern Cambodia. A few hundred copies of the Irrawaddy dolphin survive in this area, and despite being in place a last-ditch effort to protect them and save them, their survival is quite hanging by a thread … in this case, tourism, balanced and regulated may be a weapon for the poor animals instead of the ax final.
– The mountainous eastern provinces: regions of Rattanak Kiri and Mondul Kiri, in the far east of the country, on the border with Vietnam, may be for lovers of adventure and discovery trails off from the main tourism trips, a great landing. Jungle trekking, horseback riding on elephants, bathrooms at the foot of lush waterfalls and maybe a few nights in the homestay in one of the many villages of the ethnic groups in the mountains of this area could make unique your trip Cambogia.
– The province of Battambang: the second largest city by population does not have much to offer the visitor if they do not represent the point of departure or landing of the boat to or from Siem Reap. Rent a scooter or a tuk tuk to venture into rural areas of the province, however, it could give one or two very exciting days. Battambang is famous for the bamboo train…try a ride!!!
WHEN TO GO TO CAMBODIA – WEATHER – CLIMATE
The ideal months to visit Cambodia are December and January, when the humidity is bearable, the cool temperatures and rainfall less plentiful. From February onwards the heat was more oppressive, and in April it becomes unbearable. The rainy season (May to October), although quite humid, it’s a good time to visit Angkor: in recent months, the ditches are full and lush vegetation. Instead been away from the North-East: this season the tracks become real swamps and are completely impassable. It is worth to attend the most important holiday of the country, Bon Om Tuk, which is held every year in early November.
HOW TO GO TO CAMBODIA
Bangkok is the most convenient airport to catch a flight to Phnom Penh or Siem Reap. The planes take off for the Cambodian capital also from Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong, Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vientiane and Guangzhou. The main airport is Pochentong, 7 km west of Phnom Penh. The road network is more secure than it was in the past and currently the road conditions are good even with international assistance. With a combination of boats and buses will leave the Thai province of Trat and heading towards the coastal town of Krong Koh Kong. Buses and taxis will take you to the pass instead of Vietnamese Moc Bai. Now all border points are open.
SEARCH AND BOOK A FLIGHT TO CAMBODIA
The plane is the fastest (and of course more expensive) to reach places such as Angkor, Battambang, Ratanakiri, Koh Kong, Stung Treng and Mondulkiri. Road travel are safer today than in the past, but your physical surely suffer the effects of a bus trip, given the dire conditions faced by the town’s streets. The rail network is back in operation: the ticket price is ridiculously low, but the convoys travel at agonizingly slow, compared to the bus. The appalling roads to Siem Reap, Battambang and Kratie are passable only with trucks or SUVs, while whizzing along the southern coast collective taxis. Being able to make use of about 1900 km of navigable canals, the boat is one of the most widely used means of transport in the whole country. The most used service is the one that links the capital to Siem Reap: the express boat takes only four hours to reach their destination. Some speed boats back the Mekong until Kompong Cham, Kratie and Stung Treng. You can easily reach the main sites in the outskirts of Phnom Penh by taking advantage of the efficient local bus network, rather than rent a car with the obligation of the driver (and after seeing the condition of the roads you’ll understand why this clause). Currently, taxis are very popular in the city, and you can also ask brief passages in bicycles and mopeds
Ancient temples, deserted beaches, wild rivers, forests and remotest, except Angkor, only a handful of tourists. Cambodia is not the word inspires more fear: the country has finally emerged from decades of war and isolation that made him synonymous with atrocities, refugees, poverty and political instability. The magical Angkor temples are still a wonder among the hundreds of tourists who admire them and Cambodia is deservedly once again become one of the most coveted stages of Southeast Asia. The current Cambodia that has replaced the powerful Khmer empire, which includes most of today’s states of Vietnam, Laos and Thailand, has a rich cultural tradition, a capital of the French era (although a little ‘marked by time) and extraordinary natural beauty. Peace is still young but relatively stable, and the country is slowly gaining its slice of that tourism is thriving for years in neighboring Vietnam. However, remote areas are still plagued by the presence of landmines and banditry; so it is advisable not to stray too far from the busiest tourist routes.