26 days summer 03
I dont really know why its
years that the idea of hanging out in Indochina buzzes in my mind; attracted
by this cluster of nations so known as stages of some past human madness
(from the 65-73 war to Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge), on the
opposite so few mentioned in their actual situation.
prepared this trip for months before leaving: first of all reading pages
and pages of funny reports to plan my itinerary and at the end I completely
changed my way following my instinct and some funny fellows known
on the road (thanks Leigh, thanks Enn). But this is the fun of travelling
"Travellers dont know where they are going, while tourist dont
know where they have been"
ITINERARY OF THE WHOLE TRAVEL
in Bangkok, still jetlagged and already sweat soaked, I jumped on a unexpected
deluxe train heading to the north. The next morning I was in the exotic
and touristy Chiang Mai where I spent some relaxant days waiting for my
Lao visa and getting my feet massaged. My passport wandered through Thailand
for four days before coming back to his fu**ing worried daddy in Huay
Xai (the Lao border) at 7 am brought
by a moped-boy coming from "whoknowswhere". Right here I crossed
the Mekong river getting in Laos and experiencing a 30 years gap of development
in 500 meters of water. No more roads here in Laos, in particular in the
rainy season! Thats why I had to get packed for two days in a crowded
(and touristy) slow boat to reach Luang Prabang. But I had fun, especially
because most of the guys on the boat where travellers plenty of interesting
stories experienced around the world. And what about the nice village
of Pakbeng where the boat stops for the night?
IMPRESSIONS ABOUT CAMBODIA
Pol Pot, Khmer Rouge.... all these names echo fears and sadness in those
who know the Cambodian thirty years long civil war. Now the war is over,
but the present is inevitably son of the past and as result Cambodia still
shows his deep wounds. Neither Laos is a develop country but when I entered
Cambodia I immediately noticed a general different mood. The calm and
kindness were the same characterising the whole Indochina, but I felt
a kind melancholy and a hidden anger in the people, being aware of a bad
past and an uncertain future: not so many smiles handing you your fried
chicken, just bought at the stall, compared to the ones you received in
Laos or Thailand. The roads and the means of transport are the worse you
can find in Asia and the UXOs (unexploded ordains) are still spread in
many areas. In addition the country is governed by the vietnamese party
(CPP (07/2003) that exploit the resources and threat the Cambodian confidence.
But for a traveller, not for a tourist scared by the bumpy roads, Cambodia
is charming. No pushy or dodgey people, no real hassles crossing the country;
on the opposite it has been a great chance of understanding an important
part of the worlds history and its consequences.
II. RIDING A MOPED INTHE DARKNES...
IN POIPET, THE CAMBODIAN BORDER, I GOT SHOCKED
Its called Poipet. If you pass through
there for sure you wont forget this name.I mean one of the two border points between
Thailand and Cambodia opened to foreigners.
RIDING A MOPED INTHE DARKNES...
After a tough long day I reached by boat Stung Treng in
Cambodia from the four thousands islands in Laos. I liked this town settled in the far north
of the country and characterised by a kind of "former colonialism" style unknown
to any town in Laos. After having found a guesthouse, frankly more similar to a prison, I
asked to a cambodian guy, who previously helped me at the border, to take me for a trip in
the town letting me to drive. Even if a little bit worried at the end he agreed. Useless
to say there were no street lights and any kind of rules in the traffic, but fortunately
cars are quite rare in Cambodia, especially in Stung Treng, hence at worse you crash
against a cow or another moped.
BRING THE ESSENTIAL
As very travel I strived to tuck in my backpack only the essential, but travelling I realised how many useless stuffs I brought. Consider it was so hot that I never need something heavier than a light sweater for the flight. In addition you can have one kilos laundry for 1$ in most of the guesthouses. And finally you can buy extremely cheap clothes everywhere. Isn't it enough??
FLIP FLOP OR HEAVY SHOES
Depite I met many traveller walking everywhere with the flip flop, I don't raccomend you to do it. Even they can be convenient for the hot, leeches and all the dead or alive insects on your way will stick to your feet. One the other hand I recognised my trekking shoes were too heavy. The best is to use some sport shoes bringing a pair of flip flop.
Almost every day usually in the late afternoon it rained heavily. Hence don't forget a small umbrella and a waterproof wrap.
IT'S HOT AND HUMID
Just God knows how much I sweated! In the day and in the night expect to
be always soaked. There's not so much you can do with the clothes, but if you organised
your activities in the early morning (before 10.00 am) and in the late afternoon (after
16.30) maybe you'll survived;-)
FORGET THE ELECTRICITY
In most of the places there're only generators working few hours. So don't forget a flash lamp and some candles to read in the night swinging on the hammock
WATCH OUT TO THE INFECTIONS
Travelling I met other travellers who got a kind a boring eye infection. Especially a girl I met while I was on a boat to Muang Noi really seem to suffer. If you are sensitive to such things bring some medicine
Angorwat is a vast area of forest (the perimeter
of the main circuit is 20 km) 10 km from Siem Reap where many wats (=temples) are spread.
Some are huge and well maintained and reachable by a paved road, others , my favourites,
are ruins hidden and submerged by the wildlife. There are some other temples 30 km far
away from the main ones, but I didn't get till there. I reached Siem Reap as last leg of
my travel through Indochina after having heard for one month people describing the beauty
of the Angkor temples. Definitely they are awesome, but one day and half for me was more
than enough to visit them. Then I was fed up since this area is so different from the rest
of Cambodia and I wasn't used to the boring people yelling me: "Misteeeeerrrrr, buy a
coca pleeeeease!!!". The hundredth time I heard it I was freaking out! ;-) But anyway
everybody is nice and not so pushy, at least compared to Africa.
When you get in Siem Reap you'll pass through the worse place you can find in the whole Cambodia. It's called Poipet: good luck!