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Big Al in Cambodia

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Cruising by cycloThe best way to get around town is by cyclo. We went from one end of town to the other to see one of the markets and it took about half an hour to get there and cost us 6,000 riel (about 2 Australian dollars). This is more than the local Cambodians would pay him too!

Gee, the man must have been tired after peddling all that way, and there was two of us in the cyclo!
Freshly cooked chickenThe best way to buy chicken is to get it freshly cooked! This is the small market at Kien Svay, just south of Phnom Penh. The lady at the back is the cook. She cuts a chicken in half ( they are small chickens here) and holds it with a bamboo clamp which she holds while cooking it over charcoal. The cooked chickens are on the plate behind me. They cost about 5,000 riel each (that's about 1.6 Australian dollars).

Standing behind me is my Cambodian auntie, Leakhena. She is the one doing the negotiating over the price - not me! In Cambodia, there is no fixed price for anything, you have to bargain with the seller. They always ask too much at the beginning, so you have to get them to bring the price down. If they really won't, you can always go and try somewhere else!
Deep fried crickets - yum!If you really don't like chicken, you can try the crickets! They are deep fried and are very crisp and crunchy.

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Down the cricket hatch!Here is me and a deep fried cricket. Of course, I am only pretending. I didn't really eat it. In fact, I had to go and wash my hands straight away afterwards!


More homework!Still doing homework. Maybe I will get it finished before I have to return to Australia.

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The hard lifeThis is better!

It is very hot here at the moment because it is the hot wet season. In the middle of the day, everyone finds it too hot to do too much, so it is 'somrac' time. Resting. Then back to work or activity in the middle of the afternoon. And because it is the wet season it often rains later in the afternoon and it is cooler anyway.
Wooden houseThis is a relative's house in Kompong Cham, which is a provincial town further up the Mekong River, where my mum comes from. The house is built on stilts so that it is high up to make it cooler. It is made from lovely old Cambodian hardwood and has wooden blinds.

It took us just over two hours to drive to Kompong Cham through the rural countryside where a lot of people were planting out rice for this year's crop. There were lots of cattle and people wandering across the road!
Banana treesAt the back of the house they grow their own bananas! But they are not ripe yet, awww.

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Garden streetThis is along the street where we are staying in Phnom Penh. There is a nice big grass section in the middle of the road, which is a major road that leads west out of town.

The lady sitting down is one of the gardeners that looks after the garden.
Crossing the roadYou have to be very careful when crossing the street in Phnom Penh because there are no pedestrian crossings. And at this spot, near the Central Market, the traffic is constant with no traffic lights. So you have to weave your way through the traffic watching out for cars, cyclos, bicycles, motorcycles with people and motocycles with loads of bananas for sale.
Mountain hutsOne day we went up into the mountains near Phnom Penh to a place called Kirirom. There is a small river there and lots of huts which you can rent.

Then all you have to do is relax!
Mountain retreatOr eat then relax! The whole extended family came on the trip and we crammed 17 people in the minibus (with seating for only 12!). That's me in the orange shirt.
Kirirom vistaAfter all the flat flood plains that make up most of the country, the mountains are a nice change. And a bit cooler too.
Three wheel travelAround Phnom Penh, the easiest way to travel, when there is more than just two of you, is by the three-wheel mototaxi.

No seatbelts in these taxis!
Want a painting?Lots of shops sell stuff for the tourists.

You can get a painting, scarves, carved statues from wood or stone, things made from cane, silver boxes....
Buddha in stoneOr, if you want, a really big stone Buddha!

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The corridors of AngkorOne of the highlights of our trip to Cambodia was the visit to Angkor.

This temple complex is the largest religious structure in the world. But is more than the scale that makes it famous. It is also the quality of the workmanship, with everything carved in stone.

It is also the age of the site. Angkor Wat was built in the twelfth century and the remainder of the structures went up at that time or in the two hundred years prior. There are hundreds of structures.

This is the outer corridor of Angkor Wat, at ground level. These columns were built 900 years ago and still stand perfectly.
Angkor upper level windowThis is the top level of Angkor Wat.

I am standing in a window frame. As there was no glass in those days, 'windows' were made from stone, with columns cut to a round shape and spaced close together. Here, only one column remains in this window, although many of them still have all the stone columns in them.

Behind me is the jungle. This is where Angkor Wat and most of the temples are located. After the site was abandoned in the fourteenth century, very few people lived there and the jungle grew up around it.

This continued for many hundreds of years, until last century when it was studied by archeologists and later became a tourist attraction.
Angkor Wat visitorThis is the outline of Angkor Wat. The height of the towers can be measured against the palm trees in front. Surrounding this, and me, is another wall with numerous carvings, and surrounding that is a moat. The moat is nearly one kilometre square.

The whole structure is carved stone. No other materials are used. There is no cement or bonding material. All the blocks are close fitting and interlocking.
Window at Banteay Srei This is a window at Banteay Srei, which is nearly intact. The stone columns are very smooth, they must have been made on a lathe.

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Bayon apsaraThis is one of the carvings at the Bayon, one of the temples close to Angkor Wat.

Remember that this carving is 900 years old. It has been out in the open for all that time. And it still looks good.
East Mebon stupa entranceSome of these doorways were made for short people!

One of the shrines at East Mebon temple. The carving over the door is made from one piece of stone and the work is very clever. There are dozens more like this at this temple alone.
Angkor Wat muralAngkor Wat again, showing the carvings on the walls that surround the lower level of the temple. This one is part of the 'Battle between the gods and the demons'.
Time to goTime to go....

This is me leading the group away from the last temple we visited, Preah Khan. Altogether we were a group of seventeen and we travelled between the temples in minibus. The group includes my mum and dad, my aunt and uncle and two cousins from France and some local relatives.

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Angkor Wat modelThis is a miniature model of Angkor Wat. On the real one, the outer wall is 215 metres by 187 metres. And the middle tower is 65 metres high. This model can be found in the grounds of the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh.
Royal Palace, Phnom PenhThis is us visiting the Royal Throne Room at the Royal Palace. That is me in the orange shirt. This is the place where the coronation of a new king takes place. I don't think they ever coronate queens.

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No photos allowedThis shows the inside of the Royal Throne Room.

You are not allowed to take pictures inside!
French intrusionThis iron house which is definitely not in the Khmer style was given to King Norodom by Napoleon III of France. It sits in the courtyard of the Royal Palace.
Silver pagoda precincts I am standing on the balcony of the Silver Pagoda, also in the Royal Palace. It is called the Silver Pagoda because the floor is covered with over 5,000 solid silver tiles each weighing one kilogram. How much silver is that?

Inside is the 'Emerald Buddha' made from Baccarat crystal in an eerie green colour, and a solid gold Buddha weighing 90 kg decorated with 9,584 diamonds, among other things.
Henry's watThat Little Henry!

He's always going off by himself somewhere. Now he has found a pagoda his own size and spends his time there. Maybe we should put an orange robe on him and make him a monk!

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Monk ceremonyIn Buddhist societies, this is the way you sit to show respect to the monks, who are the link between the people and the beliefs of Buddhism.

Firstly you must sit facing the monks with your feet pointing behind you. It is important that your feet do not point towards a monk or an image of Buddha. Then you must flatten out your hands and join them together in front of you.

Monks come to people's houses to perform ceremonies for all sorts of occasions. This one is a combination of a birthday and a new house celebration.
Kong bai with PaThis is our last ride in the three-wheel motorcycle taxi called a kong bai. My dad and I on the way to the market.

This is my second-last photo for Cambodia and for the whole trip.

Pouchentong farewell This is the last photo. At Phnom Penh International Airport on the way home. After six months away.

Thanks for coming along for the journey.

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