Stepping into a hospital is something that most travellers hope to avoid on their holidays, but recently Intrepid’s Jane Crouch was happy to make a special visit in Cambodia for a real life-giving experience…
“Siem Reap and its surrounds are so full of contrasts. You’ve got the extraordinary ruins of the various temples of Angkor, giving you some insight into ancient lives. There are the opulent hotels which remind you of how some of the rich may travel. And then you have in-your-face poverty, where you know some of the local people are unsure where their next meal will come from.
The conflict between the haves and have-nots can be unsettling. But in Siem Reap I found some salve for my conscience, in giving the best gift of all – life!
This week there has been a lot of publicity about the tragic events at the Water Festival in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, where over 370 people were trampled to death in a stampede as the crowd became panicked. It was a tragic incident and our thoughts are with all those affected by the event. Thankfully we can confirm that none of our travellers and staff or their friends and families were involved.
Intrepid’s Graham Stanley was in Siem Reap to visit our Cambodian office at the same time as the Water Festival…”The festivities here in Siem Reap were a lot less news-worthy and it was actually a fantastic occasion. The Water Festival is one of the largest festivals in Cambodia. The town was full of foreign visitors, as well as Cambodian tourists from other cities or the countryside wanting to be a part of the event.
Ever wondered what it’s like to travel through South East Asia with no sound? Earlier this year Intrepid’s Nicola Gibson and fellow leader Savath had the pleasure of leading a group of 12 deaf travellers on the Great Indochina Loop. The trip gave them the opportunity to experience new pleasures and emotions throughout South East Asia, that may have otherwise gone unnoticed…
“When you travel through Indochina, try covering your ears and let your other senses override to experience the following… Spring rolls, Pad Thai, pancakes, even crickets and silk worms, the smell of street food cooking fills the air in Bangkok. Absorb the atmosphere of the vibrant non-stop city, as the bright lights of bars and tuk tuks whiz past you in the street.
Many Intrepid travellers to Cambodia visit the Land Mine Museum near Siem Reap and learn of the sad legacy of war – the deaths, the amputees and the estimated five million unexploded ordinance (UXO) and landmines still left in the country. They also may meet the larger-than-life character, Aki Ra, who has just been short-listed in the Top 10 CNN Heroes for 2010 – out of 10,000 nominations!
At the age of 10, after being separated from his family through the war, Aki Ra became a child soldier and was given his first rifle that measured his height. He fought firstly with the Khmer Rouge (whose genocidal crusade was responsible for the deaths of an estimated 1.5 million Cambodians during the 1970s); he was captured by the Vietnamese and fought for them, then when the Vietnamese left he fought for the Royal Cambodia Armed Forces.
Some of the richest real life experiences revolve around food, and where better than Cambodia to combine flavourful local experiences with exotic regional dishes.
Cambodian cuisine is often described as a mixture of Thai and Vietnamese – but don’t tell that to a Cambodian. They believe their cuisine is in a class of its own, and they’re right!
Highlighting the delicious delights of Cambodian cuisine is non-profit organisation Friends-International. We are thrilled to announce the launch of their second cookbook From Spiders To Water Lilies, now available on-line. It features over 160 pages of mouth-watering traditional recipes, (one of which we share with you here), plus exquisite photography and inspiring stories from one of Asia’s most fascinating countries.
“Some people complain about the “dancing road” from Poi Pet (Thai border) to Siem Reap, but my groups so often say it was a fantastic experience of a life time. Yes, the road is bumpy, but have you taken a good look outside and noticed the countryside that you’re passing through?
Between the 9th and 13th centuries the Khmer Empire commissioned the construction of a magnificent temple site. Perfectly balanced in symmetry and composition, these wonderful temples of Cambodia continue to astound, as Intrepid’s Danielle Watts experienced…
“The alarm sounds while it’s still dark. A small but much-needed breakfast is served and we’re off on an adventure to see one of the most spectacular sights. We are in Siem Reap, the previous capital of Cambodia, to see sunrise over an ancient wonder of the world, Angkor Wat.
Cambodia has an incredible story to tell and books such as When The War Was Over and First They Killed My Father are powerful accounts of the tragedies endured. Travelling through this country you can’t help but be touched by the resilience of the people and those real life experiences will be your tales to tell, as Intrepid’s Carole Heffernan discovers…
“Battambang is the second largest city in Cambodia and with its French Colonial architecture the city retains a very local provincial atmosphere. It is the final stop on Intrepid’s Road to Angkor Westbound and a visit here is a great way to spend the last day before crossing over to Thailand.
If you want to enjoy a really memorable birthday celebration, then the first thing you should try to do is find a great buddy like Intrepid’s Marina Mildenhall…
“My friend Ange and I set out for an adventure in Cambodia in late December. We were to start the Heart of Cambodia trip on New Year’s Eve and only four days later, in Siem Reap, it would be Ange’s birthday.
Having spent a wonderful day at Angkor Wat, I had arranged with our leader Marcus to help me execute my birthday plan. I wanted a decorated cake, a tiara (Ange had to wear it throughout dinner) and a Cambodian flag for all of us new Intrepid friends to sign as a memento.
The closest Khmer word for ‘strength’ is clang and according to Intrepid’s Jo Crisp, this is certainly something that is not weakened by wild weather in Cambodia…
“Siem Reap, home of World Heritage Angkor Wat, was the Venice of Asia in the aftermath of Typhoon Ketsana that rocked the Philippines and Vietnam. Storms hit Cambodia causing torrential downpours and flooding in many parts of the country.
On Tuesday night, 29 September, water was about a metre from my front door when I went to bed. By 4am the water started lapping at my fingers as I slept. I awoke to find water was over a metre deep throughout my house and small fish were calling my bedroom home! So after grabbing essential items and raising everything up on shelves and cupboards I waded out to the street to join the hordes of people who were also flooded out of their houses.