Monday, 17 March 2014
The main reason to visit Siem Reap is the nearby temples of Angkor, relics of the vast Khmer Empire that stretched across South East Asia from the 9th to 15th Century AD. It’s something of a modern myth that the temples were subsequently lost in the jungle, and the civilisation that built them forgotten, until they were rediscovered in the 19th Century by French colonial archaeologists.
Sunday, 16 March 2014
|An early morning view of Angkor Wat, seen just after sunrise|
© Andy Brown/Cambodia/2012
After leaving Luang Prabang, Joyce and I continued our overground trip by bus instead of boat. Our next stop was Vang Vieng, a beautiful riverside town backed by craggy cliffs that was somewhat spoilt by hordes of teenage backpackers getting drunk or high and ‘tubing’ down the river in tractor tyres. There were bars selling ‘happy meals’ laced with cannabis, and ‘super happy meals’ laced with opium. All this would have been fine on a party island like Ibiza, but felt somewhat inappropriate in rural Laos.
Out of town, however, we had great opportunities for mountain biking, kayaking and even a spectacular hot air balloon ride up the valley at sunset. We flew high over the river, then low over fields and villages. Trees cast long shadows and children chased the balloon, waving and shouting ‘sabai dee’ (hello in Lao).
Sunday, 9 February 2014
In Sri Lanka, the railroad is not just a track for trains. People build their homes along it, open shops on the sidings, and walk between the rails. We decided to take the train to Ella and visit World’s End, where the central plateau drops suddenly over a thousand metres to the low land below. It was like stepping back in time.
Sunday, 2 February 2014
|Children greet us at a village on a hike through the mountains of Sri Lanka|
© Andy Brown/2013/Sri Lanka
I'd already seen how slow Sri Lanka’s antique trains go - around 15km an hour - so it seemed reasonable enough. If I had to, I could probably outrun one over a short distance. Rob was less convinced. "Have you seen ‘Stand by Me’?" he asked our guide, and described the plot of the movie in which four boys go for an adventure along a railway line, get caught by a train on a bridge, and have to jump off into the river.