After two months in Laos, I have the opportunity to go for a work field trip to Cambodia. I fly from Pakse to Siem Reap where I meet my colleagues and then head into the first meeting. Before I jump into the next meeting, a driver takes me to Angkor Wat, just to get a glimpse from the outside and to get an idea of the sheer size of the area. Wonderful, Angkor Wat receives me with a rainbow 🙂 It feels like a special place – sure, everybody knows it is one of the most visited cultural heritage sites of the world – but still, the evening light is beautiful, no, it’s mystical, shining into the forest along big and beautiful trees. Something that I miss later on while driving on major roads from province to province. Much of forests have been cleared, some areas have been converted to mono-agriculture others remain abandoned.
The field trip takes us to less visited tourist spots mainly located in the North/North-East of Cambodia (Provinces of Preah Vihear, Stung Treng and Kratie). I see local tourist spots – mainly allowing for family and friends reunions in nature spots, with a setting for eating, sitting, chatting and relaxing. I discover less developed cultural heritage sites such as Koh Ker and Preah Vihear. In the latter spot, I especially like the photographer, a microentrepreneur – in a photo bag he carries a little printer, ink, stapler, a big battery, small plastic bags, photo paper and his camera. It goes quick quick, for about 1 dollar, you get a picture in a minute! And that all happens up on a mountain. Handicraft centres are also on my list and the river life along the Mekong, including a Cantor’s Giant Softshell turtle conservation centre.
With a wonderfully refreshing fruit shake watching the sunset over the Mekong in Kratie, an intense week is almost over. One more day in meetings, wrap-up and then travelling back to Pakse. This time by minivan. According to google maps it’s only 352km. Given the road conditions though, it is estimated to take me about 7 hours. But, my adventure is not over, it shall take me 13 hours incl. the last two hours in a semi-open “sawngthaew” through rain and thunderstorms. Despite everything, safe and healthy back in Laos with one more interesting experience in my back pack 🙂
Last but not least – a big THANK YOU – to my strong guides Lisa and Sophea!