It’s been about five days since my last travel update from this trip, and as of right now I only have two more nights left in South East Asia before I fly back to the U.S., leaving Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia behind and ending this five week mega-adventure/mini-retirement. Since m last post Lindsay and I have made our way from Battambang to Siem Reap, and from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh. I feel like we’ve been packing as much into each and every day as I usually squeeze into a month, so to give a play by play of the past five days would be impossible, but I’ll quickly list some of the highlights and a bit of reflection as I relax in this hammock on the third floor balcony here at our final guesthouse in Phnom Penh.
– We rented a motorbike and drove it through some of the most beautiful countryside I’ve ever seen.
– We rode a bamboo train with our motorbike on the cart. The bamboo train is a simple two-axle cart with a sheet of bamboo and a motor on the axles. The tracks are antiquated and dilapidated. Since there are only one set of tracks, if two carts are approaching each other from opposite directions the one with the least cargo/passengers must stop, disassemble their cart, remove it from the tracks, and let the other pass. Since our cart had our motorbike on it, we never had to stop and disassemble.
– We visited some temple ruins at the top of a hill with a fantastic panoramic view of the farmland around us.
– We visited the ruins of a second temple at the top of another hill. There were wild monkeys all over the place that were really fun to watch and photograph.
– On the same hill we visited some caves where men, women, and children’s bodies were dumped during the Cambodian Genocide during the late 1970’s.
– We watched several million fruit bats fly out of a cave at sundown for about a half hour as they streaked across the sky like a scarf waving in the wind.
– We ate boiled duck eggs with developed fetuses in them.
– We took an eight-hour slow boat ride from Battambang to Siem Reap, navigating through floating and stilted villages and getting an extremely interesting glimpse at life along the river for so many Khmer people.
– We went shopping and got massages in the night market.
– We visited a place where local women make baskets, soaps, oils, spices, and other things.
– We visited a silk farm where caterpillars are bread for their silk cocoons. We got to see the process of a caterpillar’s life cycle and how the cocoon is turned into silk for fabrics.
– We saw both the sunrise and sunset at the temple ruins of Angkor Wat, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.
– We ate grilled snake.
– We pedaled bikes around the city and river front and drove a motorbike through some of the most insane traffic in the entire world. In Phnom Penh they do not have any regard whatsoever for stop signs, traffic lights, lanes, dividers, or any other rules or laws of the road. It is an absolute free for all a perfect example of controlled chaos.
– We visited the biggest “Killing Field” in the country where thousands of Khmer people were tortured, killed, and mass buried during the Cambodian Genocide.
– We visited a prison where thousands of Khmer people were held captive, tortured, and killed during the Cambodian Genocide.
– We ate grilled chicken feet and head as well as grilled dog and dog curry.
Be on the look out for one final update with some reflection on the trip as a whole pretty soon. Then, over the course of the next few months I’ll post some photo galleries and videos…stay tuned!