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Old 5th September 2011, 14:59   #76
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Default Re: Kingdom of Wonder - Cambodia; Enthralling Hidden Charms !

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Originally Posted by vigneshnr View Post
Its high time for an Indo-Cambodian effort to increase Indians tourists visiting cambodia. This will be a great help for this needy nation to grow out of their poverty. I wonder why they have not done this so far. Even the options are drying out for Indians to venture out (Malay, s'pore & thai are now beaten tracks)
I doubt that will happen. Indians venturing out - specially in South East Asia - look for fun and that is the reason you will always find Thailand topping the chart - for obvious reasons - and then the rest. Even in Singapore, i am not sure how many Indians visit outstanding Asian Civilisations meuseaum or the lovely museaum of Orchids in the Botanical gardens.

Heritage tourism is still to pick up and it will take time. However, Cambodia being closer to Thailand, the tour operators can club this with the tours of Thailand as an extension which will have many takers.
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Old 5th September 2011, 15:14   #77
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Default Re: Kingdom of Wonder - Cambodia; Enthralling Hidden Charms !

hi Vignesh,

Great travelogue, good pictures and detailed as well. Thank you so much for the visual treat!
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Old 5th September 2011, 16:14   #78
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Arrow Re: Kingdom of Wonder - Cambodia; Enthralling Hidden Charms !

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I doubt that will happen. Indians venturing out - specially in South East Asia - look for fun and that is the reason you will always find Thailand topping the chart - for obvious reasons - and then the rest.

Heritage tourism is still to pick up and it will take time. the tours of Thailand as an extension which will have many takers.
I'm not even doubting this point. But this can only be half truth.

There are definitely good bunch of folks who like to visit such an exotic. So let's not be quick in underestimating the potential IMHO.

There is a basis - why I'm saying that it has to be promoted. Last month there was a tourism expo which happened in Bangalore where almost all the south east asian countries participated. Even the less travelled Spain (Zindagi Na Mile...fame) had a counter. But 'Cambodia' was missing sadly.

At least there can be a start -Hope you agree .

For instance -
When we announced our trip plan to 'Cambodia' in our office, the following were the reactions
- Cambodia ? (Eye brows went up)
- Where is it ? (Eye brows went up)
- Never heard of someone going there ! (Eye brows went up)

Now at least my friends won't raise their brows

Last edited by vigneshnr : 5th September 2011 at 16:15.
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Old 5th September 2011, 16:55   #79
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Default Re: Kingdom of Wonder - Cambodia; Enthralling Hidden Charms !

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At least there can be a start -Hope you agree .

For instance -
When we announced our trip plan to 'Cambodia' in our office, the following were the reactions
- Cambodia ? (Eye brows went up)
- Where is it ? (Eye brows went up)
- Never heard of someone going there ! (Eye brows went up)

Now at least my friends won't raise their brows
Yes Sir. I totally agree. It should start in right earnest as there is so much of cultural linkage between the countries and Indian government can definitely help.

Whenever you plan a trip to "offbeat locations" locations, the reactions will be similar. It happenned to us when we did Chattisgarh road trip in March this year and Ladakh last year. After hearing from us on our return, some of my friends want to go there.

Your TL will definitely help many to look for alternatives to beaches and hill stations.
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Old 5th September 2011, 20:04   #80
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Arrow Re: Kingdom of Wonder - Cambodia; Enthralling Hidden Charms !

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Originally Posted by Fauji View Post
It should start in right earnest as there is so much of cultural linkage between the countries and Indian government can definitely help.

Whenever you plan a trip to "offbeat locations" locations, the reactions will be similar.

Your TL will definitely help many to look for alternatives to beaches and hill stations.
Well said, Fauji ! I think We would conclude our discussion on off beat locaitons; Else this will turn into a 'mutual admiration post' attracting Mods attention.
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Old 6th September 2011, 10:25   #81
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Default Re: Kingdom of Wonder - Cambodia; Enthralling Hidden Charms !

vigneshnr - I have a Combodian friend settled in Bangkok who used to narrate the hidden beauty of Combodia and Vietnam. This was a one hour picture tour for me and now I know what she was talking about. Very good clicks and details .

Thanks a lot for sharing.
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Old 6th September 2011, 12:42   #82
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vigneshnr - I have a Combodian friend settled in Bangkok who used to narrate the hidden beauty of Combodia and Vietnam. This was a one hour picture tour for me and now I know what she was talking about. Very good clicks and details .

Thanks a lot for sharing.
Hi Jacs, "m really happy to know.

Believe me - How much ever you see them in pictures, nothing matches the experience of being there & walking through them. (I think I'm repeating this line for nth time in my travelogue).

Hope that I have kindled some interest in you, following your friend . Whenever you plan a trip, I'll be glad to help.

And soon I'll be posting on the rest of our trip. Please do follow.

Last edited by vigneshnr : 6th September 2011 at 12:44.
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Old 7th September 2011, 16:00   #83
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Default Re: Kingdom of Wonder - Cambodia; Enthralling Hidden Charms !

Vighesh: Splendid Travelogue. Marvelous pictures and excellent narration. Thanks for sharing a wonderful history filled travel report. Cambodia was/is always on the 'to visit' list, but like you rightly stated in the OP, very little can be found about it.

Lets hold this TL as a benchmark for all future vistis, shall we? Once again, thanks for writing such a beautiful TL.
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Old 7th September 2011, 18:15   #84
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Originally Posted by Swanand Inamdar View Post
Vighesh: Splendid Travelogue. Marvelous pictures and excellent narration. Thanks for sharing a wonderful history filled travel report. Cambodia was/is always on the 'to visit' list, but like you rightly stated in the OP, very little can be found about it.

Lets hold this TL as a benchmark for all future vistis, shall we? Once again, thanks for writing such a beautiful TL.
I'm highly overwhelmed by your comments, Swanand.

Seems You've thoroughly enjoyed reading it through .

This being my first travelogue - such comments give me a high !
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Old 7th September 2011, 20:24   #85
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Default Re: Kingdom of Wonder - Cambodia; Enthralling Hidden Charms !

@vignesh

I have been following this thread off and on. Fantastic thread, brilliant info.
And from your description, seems affordable too. Something like 1.2 L should be enough for 2 weeks x 2 people, right?

Now I need to figure out about Laos. Always wanted to do those 2 together.
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Old 8th September 2011, 03:25   #86
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Default Re: Kingdom of Wonder - Cambodia; Enthralling Hidden Charms !

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@vignesh

I have been following this thread off and on. Fantastic thread, brilliant info.
And from your description, seems affordable too. Something like 1.2 L should be enough for 2 weeks x 2 people, right?

Now I need to figure out about Laos. Always wanted to do those 2 together.
Hi Chinkara

1.2 L should be sufficient for Cambodia. Biggest portion is the air travel, so if you plan well ahead you would save much more. And stay, local transport are far cheaper. Food is bit on the expensive side -we spent about USD 15 - 20 a day (breakfast being complimentary ) !

PM me if you want know something specific, Chinkara.
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Old 8th September 2011, 14:27   #87
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Default Re: Kingdom of Wonder - Cambodia; Enthralling Hidden Charms !

Good travelogue and some fantastic photographs.
Cambodia is a definitely in my agenda for the next international travel.
Thanks for sharing.
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Old 8th September 2011, 21:34   #88
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Originally Posted by gajadonga View Post
Good travelogue and some fantastic photographs.
Cambodia is a definitely in my agenda for the next international travel.
Thanks for sharing.
Oh.. That's great. You'll love yourself for this decision, when you are back from there.
Now I think ki I should sign a contract with Cambodia tourism for some commission. Ha ha !
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Old 10th September 2011, 09:36   #89
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Arrow Kingdom of Wonder - Cambodia; Enthralling Hidden Charms !

Day 5 : (Contd)

Where : Angkor Wat (.. I can hear you saying 'Finally')

This day was marked as 'Small trip' in the itinerary.
Please don't go by the name - It only applies to the number of temples covered; The unlimited awesomeness is bonus .

We were exhausted by the time we covered Ta Prohm. We took a break for lunch right after that. This day we got to spot few Indian travellers in the restaurant. Having spent days amidst the Europeans, Cambodians this was a relief. This also reminded that our trip will come to a close soon - we got two more days.

Angkor Wat Now.

A suggestion here.

Normally the itinerary for temples is made with Angkor wat in the first, for obvious reasons, followed by the rest.

My friend Rohit had been to Cambodia a year back and here is his suggestion, which is brilliant. Thanks, Rohit !
We planned the itinerary in a way that we come to Angkor Wat almost in the end after seeing other temple sites.

Why so ?
- Angkor wat being the most magnificent and popular - what we experience here might over shadow the rest.
And its always good to keep the most exciting in the end of the trip so the excitement stays - especially when we are doing a 8 day tour.

Also, the plan was to enter this temple just after lunch - so the temple is less crowded. (Normal course of all those tourists who come in large bus fills visit Wat first in the morning and move forward)

This twist in the itinerary actually helped.

Just a Brief History :

Surya Varman II built this temple during his reigns (12th Century). This was his state temple. Every Khmer ruler invested in building shrines during their rule. And what Surya Varman created is the World's Largest Religious Monument.
And this temple was dedicated to Lord Vishnu. And this is the largest Hindu temple in the world - ok, that goes with out saying !!
Once the ruler shifted his faith to Buddhism, the temple was dedicated to Buddha.

This temple is situated right in middle of vegetation. And the water area around it has saved it from trees encroaching in. Though the nation was under war strike & unrest - the temple has been restored really well.

South gate is the most popular one. The view to reach the gate is break taking. You got to walk almost quarter mile to reach the outer wall.

Kingdom of Wonder - Cambodia; Enthralling Hidden Charms !-1.jpg

Kingdom of Wonder - Cambodia; Enthralling Hidden Charms !-2.jpg

The temple is surrounded by wide moat on all sides. It should be atleast 200m wide.

The whole stretch is decorated with 'The five headed snake' to churn the ocean.

Kingdom of Wonder - Cambodia; Enthralling Hidden Charms !-3.jpg

The outer walls are about a km long. Here is one of the gopuras welcoming us.

Kingdom of Wonder - Cambodia; Enthralling Hidden Charms !-4.jpg

Kingdom of Wonder - Cambodia; Enthralling Hidden Charms !-5.jpg


The snake skin pattern is used on the roofs.
We kept wondering how many sculptors were put on this project to do this on endless roof line

Kingdom of Wonder - Cambodia; Enthralling Hidden Charms !-7-2.jpg

Kingdom of Wonder - Cambodia; Enthralling Hidden Charms !-7.jpg

Our entry into the temple was through East gate. This is much quite and less crowded.

Kingdom of Wonder - Cambodia; Enthralling Hidden Charms !-6.jpg

The setting was so serene, we enjoyed walking on the grass path.

The temple is built based on the mountain style to indicate "Meru"

Kingdom of Wonder - Cambodia; Enthralling Hidden Charms !-9.jpg

Kingdom of Wonder - Cambodia; Enthralling Hidden Charms !-8.jpg

The inner galleries were elaborately decorated. Actually very very elaborately decorated.

The four walls of inner gallery will take countless minutes to gaze.
The classic stories are presented in interesting way.

One wall - Life during Surya varman's rule / war history
One wall - Story of Maha Bharat
One wall - Story of Ramayana
One wall - Story of Deities & Devils fighting over Amruth.

Its massive.

Section of Devas churning the sea with snake.

Kingdom of Wonder - Cambodia; Enthralling Hidden Charms !-11.jpg

Once we covered the inner galleries we had moved on to the upper gallery.
It was almost like a rocky mountain amidst jungle.

Kingdom of Wonder - Cambodia; Enthralling Hidden Charms !-13.jpg

The proportions were bewildering. The way the temple is erected is far beyond belief.

Kingdom of Wonder - Cambodia; Enthralling Hidden Charms !-14.jpg

Tower of Glory !

Kingdom of Wonder - Cambodia; Enthralling Hidden Charms !-12.jpg


We had to rest a bit and the sun was up & bright after a short pour. Now to reach the upper gallery we got a fleet of stairs to climb. There are four entries to the top but only one is active and rest are under restoration.

Kingdom of Wonder - Cambodia; Enthralling Hidden Charms !-15.jpg

Temple. Jungle. Sky.

Shot from a sitout (like the ones you'll find in Jaipur forts). It was windy at that height and we sat there for a while.

Kingdom of Wonder - Cambodia; Enthralling Hidden Charms !-16.jpg

The whole temple was completed before the end of Surya Varman's period. So the estimate is about 40 years. But I remember reading an article which estimates - considering the area, amount of stones used, carving them all and erecting the structure - it would take close to 300 years.

Such is the power and might of these emperors. Where has all these richness of civilization & wealth have gone ? If the same would have stayed intact, this nation would been a super power now, for sure.
It is sad to realise that the glory has faded - Poverty & misery has broke this country now.
And our heart felt heavy while we were walking out of this place.




Temple & its Reflection. The same reflects the pride in this nation's flag.

Kingdom of Wonder - Cambodia; Enthralling Hidden Charms !-17.jpg



----------------------------------
Visiting this temple is so irresistible - Amidst the Vietnam war, Jacqueline Kennedy visited this temple as this was her long long dream.

During this trip we were planning to hire a micro light aircraft to get a taste of Angkor wat from aerial view. But such services were closed due to rainy days. We kept trying till the last day but we missed it. So there is something for us to go back again

Last edited by vigneshnr : 10th September 2011 at 09:46.
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Old 18th September 2011, 08:26   #90
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(Been bit busy @ work. So this post comes as much delayed)


Day 6:

Temples, temples and more temples seen in a row. We thought we try something else for the day before it gets monotonous (not really, with Angkor wat in the list )

Where : It is Floating villages for the day - Kampong Phluk.

Instead of 7:30 regime - today we started by 9. Day was bit warm when we stepped out - anyway excitement was no less to hold.

Siem reap to floating villages in Kampong Phluk is about 15+ kms.
I've never been to Venice - but except the uniqueness of being on water I don't think there will be any similarity between Venice & Kampong Phluk.

Its a cluster of three villages on the Tonle sap lake.

We have some time in hand till we reach, so let me share my knowings of Tonle sap lake. Its the largest inland water body in SE Asia. This lake is easily one of the largest fish breeding sites in the world. One unique thing about this lake is that the direction of water flow changes twice in a year.

Tonle sap is also part of UNESCO Biosphere project.


Once we leave the highway, there is a short stretch of mud road to reach the place.


Kingdom of Wonder - Cambodia; Enthralling Hidden Charms !-1.jpg


Life is usual on the banks.


Kingdom of Wonder - Cambodia; Enthralling Hidden Charms !-2.jpg


There were about 30 odd motor powered boats ready to depart. The boat fee was included in our trip plan so Bon'Am paid for the tickets in the counter. This being low season time our travel agent got us a discount deal.

The boats were built very basic.
The one we got in had some trouble - just after we started from the dock it stopped suddenly and refused to start.
The boat man called up his friend for help - happy to see him calling from his mobile from middle of the lake; Else we would be stuck for 'no-clue-how-much' time.

One of my fav pic here.


Kingdom of Wonder - Cambodia; Enthralling Hidden Charms !-4.jpg


Spotted the first family boat - Mother & kid.


Kingdom of Wonder - Cambodia; Enthralling Hidden Charms !-5.jpg


Stilted houses. Atleast they are 10 metres high so that they can stay above the raising water level during wet season.

Kingdom of Wonder - Cambodia; Enthralling Hidden Charms !-6.jpg


Two storeys. Balconies all around. Lake view on all sides. Greens & flower garden on each floor. Dog house. Sit out section. Boat 'parking' - one for dad, mom, boy and girl, Bonsais, fish equipment & space for variety of nets. Uff.

List sounds like a luxury villa for a moment.


Kingdom of Wonder - Cambodia; Enthralling Hidden Charms !-7.jpg


Floating sign board for the village name.
Otherwise it will be difficult to distinguish one village from the other..


Kingdom of Wonder - Cambodia; Enthralling Hidden Charms !-8.jpg



Lake Site.


Kingdom of Wonder - Cambodia; Enthralling Hidden Charms !-9.jpg

No less than a ocean when you can't see the shore.
Believe me - a picture shot from a boat on this lake and a picture shot in middle of a sea will have no difference.


Kingdom of Wonder - Cambodia; Enthralling Hidden Charms !-10.jpg


Sheha - the boatman's kid.


Kingdom of Wonder - Cambodia; Enthralling Hidden Charms !-11.jpg



'Gift of innocence' - Any child in Cambodia will leave this impression with you.


Kingdom of Wonder - Cambodia; Enthralling Hidden Charms !-12.jpg


Our humble boat turning into a speed boat.

Kingdom of Wonder - Cambodia; Enthralling Hidden Charms !-13.jpg


The other one following us.
This splash & speed is required - coz few sections have thick vegetation so the boat man opens throttle and gushes through to avoid any stuck up.

On one side of the lake there is thick mangrove forest. Once you reach this section, you can take a small boat (non motorised) to go through the woods.

Kingdom of Wonder - Cambodia; Enthralling Hidden Charms !-13.5.jpg



In a day's life - ' Diver Boy '

Kingdom of Wonder - Cambodia; Enthralling Hidden Charms !-14.jpg



Extremely simple living.

Kingdom of Wonder - Cambodia; Enthralling Hidden Charms !-15.jpg



I can't help remembering 'Waterworld' movie when I went through the villages & witnessed their daily life amidst water.


During dry periods, people settled here vacate the villages and come to main land for other occupation. And return to villages during wet rainy season to fish.

One statistic to impress - the lake shrinks to 2700 sq km with 1m depth in dry months and expands to 16000 sq km with 10m depth during wet period.

Fellow bhpians who have been to Venice can provide a contrast.

---
Life gets interesting with such a different experience.


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Last edited by vigneshnr : 18th September 2011 at 08:36. Reason: Spell error
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