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Andy’s Travel Diary

Tuesday, 24 Oct 2006

Location: Siam Reap to Bangkok, Cambodia


The return journey to Bangkok from Siam Reap proved equally arduous. Perched on the side of a pick-up truck for half hour before sprinting to the coach in order to gain a decent seat. Again the scenery was engrossing and demonstrated the pace, necessities and priorities of life in this country - traditionally dressed men packed wet clay into brick moulds, row after row baking under the Cambodian sun, town billboards advising parents on child healthcare with simple, step by step instructions and pictures, fields churned and ploughed by cattle and a farmers liberal use of a whip.

Later we passed a village of dust. Houses, shops, produce, signs and most probably dogs were covered in a thick layer of terraccotta dirt thrown up by thundering cars and vans.

Everything danced and jiggled inside the van as our driver tried, and failed (predictably) to navigate around the bumps. The door flung open on more than one occassion.

Reaching the ‘no-mans land’ between Cambodia and Thailand a group of kids stood begging. They exhibited hopeless looks on their faces and lacked the scampish, cheekily mischevious nature of those whose situations are not dire. One clung to a metal fence, tears streaming down his face and contorted into a face of painful resignation. A girl approached me and wildly grabbed my banana chips which were all i had to eat that day. I let them go - i would have a meal tonight. “Share them round” i said. Realising this was futile i made a weak hand gesture. On the other side, in Thailand a girl stood with her hand out for 10 Baht. She was clean, dressed and exhibited none of the characteristics i had just witnessed; I gave her nothing.


National Geographic scene of the week:
On the drive through Cambodia i spotted two saffron robed clothed monks in the distance wading through swamped, lush green rice paddies. In the foreground waterbuffalow munched on grass amongst small wooden huts. In the far distance tall palms were silhouetted against a brilliantly blue sky. It could have been staight out of a documentary or travel photography book!