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Tramping through Prea Vihear in Northern Cambodian

My recent trip to the North of Cambodia was something else. As in, not what I was expecting before I went there. The town is a quite a dingy hellhole surrounded by overflowing rivers. Endless cycles of flooding and drought have kept the entire area in poverty since they started keeping track of their own history.

Among the prominent features of the area, there is the UNESCO World Heritage listed Hindu temple some 150 km towards the border with Thailand, and the subject of a recent dispute between the two nation’s regarding the historical ownership of said site. The Thai’s claim the site represents a cultural enclave for their Akan minority. Phnom Penh claim the Akan have bigger numbers, and are originally from Cambodia. Fortunately it all came down to a friendly football match between both nation’s national teams, with both Prime Minister’s doing the kick off. There were no red, or yellow cards andI am fuzzy in the final score due to a proper saucing.

There is also a large plateau with waterfalls and the possibility of hunting boar. Although the place is jungly, it isn’t Amazon jungly. I guess aside from Central Africa, nothing is ever going to match up to my experience of Amazon jungly.

With a Cambodian local I met, we only went for two nights, which gave us little time to visit the temple, or go hunting, besides, the fellow I was travelling with had not been to his village in something like 5 years. Even though his family would sometimes travel to Phnom Penh to visit him he had not seem his extended family and friends for quite a while. That meant we were given food and alcohol constantly, and then some more.

Last night, after arriving from Prea Vihear, still feeling drunk from a couple of long nights sharing rice-cakes and cases of beer with the locals, I met a couple of Italians who immediately upon meeting me ordered a case of beer each and several snacks. Tough call. Nevertheless, we went on and I was sauced again. I had drank about six litres of beer so far and it seemed that I was going weak on everyone. At this point I decided to run outside for a snack. I was indeed, feeling pretty wasted. The first light bulb glaring on top of an oven appeared merely half a block away from the hostel. I was expecting a banquet of roasted duck, steamed rice, and maybe papaya salad, along with some extra meat in any form. They were closing. The owner however, poured a glass of beer and insisted I sit down with him for a few minutes. It went on.

I am beginning to realise that Cambodians are friendly, and then some!



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