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Andy and new friends in Samrong, Cambodia - December 2003.

This is a new section of Cambodia Tales that hasn't been completed yet! It'll contain a detailed overview of my December 2003 visit to Cambodia, together with some of my photos. However, its been a long time on the drawing board! This trip was number 10, since my first visit in 1994. Its a wonderful country to explore, its perfectly safe nowadays and there's a welcoming smile wherever you go.

I began this trip with a big party with friends in Toul Kork in Phnom Penh, travelled to Kampot to visit the stupa of my friend Sok Thea, who tragically died in 2000 and then spent a day locating cave temples around Kompong Trach. Then it was up into the northern reaches of Preah Vihear province and the massive temple complex of Koh Ker, still unveiling its treasures at a slow rate because of the landmine scourge that afflicts Cambodia. Accompanied by Sokhom, it was my second visit and more temples are being de-mined every dry season. The sunset from the top of the Prasat Thom pyramid was sublime. In Siem Reap, I hooked up with Paul Hay from Hidden Cambodia and we had a great three day trip across the north-west corner of the country, visiting Anglong Veng, the former home of the Khmer Rouge hierachy of Pol Pot and Ta Mok and Samrong, finding Angkorean temples and bridges enroute.

Back in Siem Reap, I had a day on Rieng's moto looking for temples around Svay Leu and we found a handful though the promise of many more near Ta Siem and Kantuot must wait for a future trip. Just before I left, the father of Noung, a souvenir seller from Angkor Wat I've known for six years, suffered a serious moto accident and was in a serious condition (thankfully he has recovered well from his injuries). Following short stopovers in Kompong Thom and Kompong Cham, I was back in the capital and a friend's party in Kien Svay was the perfect way to end to another wonderful three week visit to Cambodia. More details about my trip in due course.

Nee, Kampot's loveliest tikalok seller and a happy customer! (click to enlarge)A great tikalok and a wonderful smile await you from Nai in Samrong. (click to enlarge)

(Above): These two photos were taken on my travels in December. I try to seek out the best 'tikalok' (teuk kralok) stalls wherever I am on my travels. These refreshing fruitshake drinks are a great way to wind down after a hard day on Cambodia's roads. Not to mention the lovely girls who run these stalls with their award-winning smiles. On the left is Nee, who runs Kampot's finest stall, and on the left is Nai, who sells a mean tikalok in Samrong in northern Cambodia.

A massive Linga and the author at the Koh Ker complex.

(Above): I visited the Koh Ker complex for the second time in December. Here's a photo of yours truly (yes, wearing a krama on my head again!) inside a temple that had been off-limits during my previous visit. In fact I managed to visit another 7 temples that I'd not seen before at the complex. These had been demined and made safe since my previous trip to Koh Ker and I'm reliably informed there's still more temples to be uncovered in the vicinity. What was amazing about these 'new' temples were the massive lingas that were housed in 4 of them. Not only were the lingas still in place but they were the largest I'd ever seen before, including any that I'd seen in the museums and at Angkor Conservation. 3 of them sat proudly on gigantic, carved pedestals while a 4th was much different and in fact resembled a large bomb. Anyway, here's one of them, taken at a temple called Prasat Leung 4 (the local conservation guy who took us to the temples gave them all the same name!)

These youngsters were a cheeky bunch who led me a merry dance at a friend's party in Phnom Penh.Vansy dresses up in party frock to join the birthday celebrations.Matey was the smallest and the youngest, but without doubt, the cheekiest. I still have the bruises.

(Above): These photos were taken at a friend's birthday party in Kien Svay, near Phnom Penh. Left is a group photo of the youngsters and then photos of Vansy ('little frog'), who had a gorgeous personality to match her beaming smile amd her younger sister Matey ('skinny frog'), who was the cheekiest of the lot. The party was a great way to end my stay in the capital and the kids were great fun.

I'm now posting my tales from my December 2003 trip [more photos to follow]. Read on by clicking the travel tale heading below:

Return to Kampot

Sunset at Koh Ker

On the road with Paul Hay

Investigating Svay Leu

Here's the links to the rest of my Cambodia Tales

Cambodia Tales

Cambodia Tales 2

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