Monday, April 07, 2008

Cambodia, day three highlights

Our third day in Cambodia started leisurely. We got up and enjoyed breakfast at the hotel (included in our package) and then hung out at the pool!

Besides for the two obnoxious old men there, we had fun just hanging out and swimming.

After lounging at the pool, we headed for Tonle Sap, the largest lake in Southeast Asia. It was about a 30 minute drive out of the city on extremely bumpy, dusty roads. I'm glad we were in a car and not a tuk-tuk like most of the other tourists we saw on the way!

Tonle Sap has a floating village with over 5000 people living on the lake. Most of them make their living from fishing, but I imagine most of them are extremely poor.

The lake is fairly popular with tourists (though there weren't nearly as many as at the other sites in Siem Reap), so boats with villagers selling drinks and souvenirs pull up next to the tourist boats and try to pressure them to buy something. This was a boat that was just leaving ours. Notice that the little girl has a snake around her neck! She wanted people to give her money for taking pictures. The little boy rowing the boat was old enough to be in school and it was a weekday...

The lake also has a place with crocodiles!

It was hard to capture it on camera, but the lake was a really beautiful place.

On the road back to the city we passed numerous houses. This was a typical one (albeit a nicer one), and I think it speaks for itself. Cambodia is not a wealthy country. In fact, according to JICA, 80% of the population lives on less than $2 a day.

We then went to the Old Market in Siem Reap (forgot to take any pictures!) and then headed to dinner. We decided to splurge at a really nice place, but even then it was only $11 a person for a full-course meal, including this amazing fruit salad.

Unfortunately that was our last day, and after dinner we headed to the airport. We had an uneventful flight to Seoul, but the Seoul airport was freezing and the five hours we had to wait in the Seoul airport (from 4:30am to 9:30am...that's what you get for buying a cheap ticket!) were very, very cold.
My impressions of Cambodia: some of the friendliest people I have ever encountered, fabulous food, unforgettable sights, and a reminder that there is so much in this world is that is unfair. I would love to go back, and next time maybe for a short-term volunteer opportunity instead of just sightseeing.
It was hard to go back to work after this vacation...


Gina said...

Lol, about the two obnoxious old men at the pool! : )

OMG, a floating village! And 5 thousand people actually living on there, that's a lot of people.

The little girl with the snake around her neck! I loved looking at the picture. I did notice the little boy rowing the boat too. I would love to see this stuff with my own 2 eyes someday!

I am glad you also shared a pic of a house. The thing you said...80% of the people live on less then $2 a day. I had to think about that a few times and was just wowed. For that reason, I can see why the little girl had the snake around her neck and the other little gal in the post below was selling scarves. Seems like they are just trying to "make it".: ( Reading this really made me think. Sorta puts things into perspective doesn't it.: ) Wow, I am so glad you posted your trip! I thoroughly enjoyed it! : )

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