The South East Asia – Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam
On my first trip to the South East Asia in November 2004, I spent one week in Thailand, two weeks in Cambodia and two week in Vietnam. I started the trip in Bangkok, where I did acclimatization and got visas for Cambodia and Vietnam. From Bangkok I took bus to Thailand/Cambodia border (Aranya Prathet – Poipet). From Poipet it took 18 h on 140 km of dirty, dusty road to reach Siem Reap. I dedicated three days for Angkor complex to explore Angkor Wat, Ta Prohm, Phnom Bakheng, Banteay Samre, Banteay Srei, Angkor Thom, Bayon and to admire Tonle Sap Lake. Tonle Sap Lake is the biggest inland lake in South East Asia. The Tonle Sap Lake is a natural phenomenon: its flow changes direction twice a year and the portion that forms the lake expands and shrinks dramatically with the seasons. From November to May, Cambodia’s dry season, the Tonle Sap drains into the Mekong River at Phnom Penh. However, when the year’s heavy rains begin in June, the Tonle Sap backs up to form an enormous lake. When the Tonle Sap River changes direction, in early November, there is a Celebration of the Seven-Headed snake. The festival lasts three days and begins on the last day of the full moon. Because of the variation of the monsoon seasons, the reversal of the river does not always coincide exactly with the festival. In the simplest form, the celebration is a series of canoe races and victory brings good fortune for the coming fishing season. When I came on pick up truck to Phnom Phen, Capital of Cambodia, the city was decorated with flags. The young king Norodom Sihamoni was just coroneted (29 October 2004) and took over the Kingdom of Cambodia, after his father Nhorodom Shikanuk abdicated in 2004. In Phnom Pehn, I visited the Killing Fields (Choeng Ek) and infamous S-21 – Tuol Sleng Museum, where during the Khmer Rough regime (1975-1979) around 20.000 people was detained, tortured and murdered. On the boat on Mekong River I entered Vietnam, visited some tourist spots in Mekong Delta and Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon). On the train from Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) to Hanoi, 1700 km, 40 hours, they stole my cam with film rolls, while I was sleeping. So from the north of Vietnam (Hanoi, Halong Bay, Sapa), I don’t have photos.