Getting from Thailand to Cambodia may have been more eventful than expected when our bus broke down in the boiling midday heat for two hours… But our border crossing was actually far smoother than many people experience and we’ve had an awesome first few days in Cambodia. We kicked off our trip in Siem Reap.
Angkor Wat, at 163 hectares, is the largest religious monument in the world and the most beautiful sight in Cambodia. As I’ve been before (and the entrance fee is a whopping $37 dollars per person), Patrick set off to visit on his own. Our budget for South East Asia is pretty tight and I was happy for a day of just wondering round Siem Reap, visiting the Old Market and relaxing. Although it was pretty weird not spending the day together after eight months of being together 23 hours a day! He saw sunrise over Angkor Wat and then cycled round a number of the other temples. Just look at those pics!
The next day, we took a visit to Apopo, an incredible charity that trains African giant pouched rats to save lives by detecting landmines. They can smell the mines and alert their handlers to where they are without setting them off. What’s more, it takes a trained rat just half an hour to clear an area which would take a human four days to clear. So they’re able to make land safe far quicker than conventional methods.
We met the team, as well as Adrian the Hero-Rat, who gave us a demonstration. After three decades of war, Cambodia has 40,000 amputees who’ve been injured by mines and it’s thought that there are six million mines and unexploded devices left buried in the country. Apopo are doing incredible work to help speed up detection of these. We were so impressed by the charity, we even adopted one of their rats! Not to take home, obviously…
After Siem Reap, we headed to Battambang. the second biggest city in Cambodia surrounded by fascinating countryside and full of French architecture. We did a do-it-yourself tour of the buildings in the city and then headed out to ride the famous bamboo train! The ancient track has just been pulled up for renovations, but there’s still a small part you can take the exhilarating ride on.
We then climbed the stairs to the beautiful Wat Banan, before watching the millions of nearby fruit bats leave their cave at dusk. It’s such a sight, tourists arrive to watch it with cheap beers in hand!
Next up, Phnom Penh! See all of our photos from Siem Reap and Battambang below: