Cambodia, hearth of the ancient khmer empire!
It was such a great adventure visiting this country, since I wanted to see it since years. I was not disappointed: Driving bicycle on the countryside allowed me to inconter amazing people. First I made my way to Banteay Chmar, to see one of these stunning khmer temples. I could enjoy sleeping at a homestay of a small community. People there are really poor, this homestay system is a way to developp tourism in a region that is too often disreguarded by tourists, who only run to Ankgor.
Nevertheless, Angkor is really an amazing place. You can't plan enough to see all the religious buildings standing high. Don't expect the wild place lost in the jungle that tourist offices want to sell you: The place is full of little villages and easy to travel by bicycle on a road. I couldn't get tired of watching all the variety of reliefs, depicting khmer armies or hinduistic mythology. The most famous scene is probably the "churning of the milk sea", the creation of the world": Vishnu was sleeping, as Brahman dropped out of his belly on a lotus flower and creating the universe. To produce the elixir of immortality, gods and demons had to ally to turn giant snakes around a pole, to churn the milk of the world. As the pole began to sink, Vishnu took form of turtle to sustain it (you may know the stories of Terry Pratchett of Turtle holding the world, it comes from here).
Phnom Penh was a nice city, on a cambodian level. But she also has a dramatic history and shows wounds at many corners: As the khmers rouges took the power, they emptied the city, letting people believe that Americans would soon bomb the city. They killed everybody who insisted to stay, and soon opened one of the worst prisons you can imagine, S21. There, opponents, thieves, spies, or more often people susptected for no real reasons, were tortured and killed. Stealing a banana would be enough for death. Soldiers cut once the belly of a girl with a knife, as she was totally concious, because she was accused of stealing rice, so they could see if you had rice inside her stomach. They let her die of bleeding out.
Some kilometers further south of Phnom Penh, archaeologists found massive graves of people killed with anything that can kill, from a bamboo stick to a hammer...
The moments visiting these places were very emotional. Maybe still more because you know that everybody in this country had suffered of war effects. You never knew if the person who was selling you a soup would have lost family members, or maybe she was herself a soldier and tortured many...
Still, Cambodia was a great experience, and I put it to one of my favourite places I saw until now...
I spent way to little time in Vietnam, since I already had book a flight and had limited time. I regret it somehow, since people seemed to be amazing and the culture incredibly interesting.
Still, time for a museum was there. The funny thing was to see the propaganda in it: The museum people tried to separate Vietnam as much as possible from China and presented Chinese as
enemies. Still, Vietnamese culture is extremely influenced by the chinese one, even in its smallest details.
One last time, I enjoyed shopping on the not-too-touristic markets and bazars and cheap food, before going to the overcrowded and overpriced Bali.
Moments in Bali were very beautiful. Landscapes and animals you can see are breathtaking. The culture is impressive, religion is everywhere to meet.
Still, the overly touristic atmosphere didn't please me, and you get to pay way to much for what you get (in comparison to other asiatic countries).