Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Malaysia and Cambodia


Between India and going home, we decided to see a few more places. We started with a layover of a day in Kuala Lumpur to see the sights. It was quite a change from India, as we were stepping back into western culture again. We were sort of shocked to see the Prada and Gucci stores and to be honest, we were not quite ready for it. It was interesting for us to notice how much India and its culture and customs had changed us during the past 4 months. We were not too happy to be bombarded by all the commercialism and materialism again.

The climate, however, was really pleasant and it reminded us of a combination of Hawaii, Southern California, Florida, and Cape Town. It was still hot, but not nearly has hot as India had been. 

Of course, we had to see the KL Towers…


These massive structures are quite impressive from close up…


The fellow we asked to take a picture got the following shot…


This shot is for Eli.  He has one that is similar…



We enjoyed some local food…


We also liked to see how people eat “family style” in Malaysia.  We enjoyed some really good noodles from this same restaurant.


Cambodia – Siem Reap

Then our next stop was Cambodia. We only had a few days so we focused on the two main places – Angkor Wat (near Siem Reap) and Phnom Penh.
The temples of Angkor Wat truly live up to the hype.  We can now see why they are considered one of the seven man-made wonders of the world.  We were struck by the lure of this very powerful ancient empire. It reached its peak in the 10th and 11th centuries when nearly 1 million people lived in the Angkor area.  There were so many temple sites in the Angkor area that we couldn’t see them all in 2 days, but here are some of the highlights…

Angkor Wat:


Angkor Wat is considered the biggest religious complex in the world…




Impressive bas reliefs surround the temple with pictures depicting war stories.  Angkor Wat has both Hindu (from its early history) and Buddhist (from its later history) influences.



I [Anita] tried to pull an “Eva” right here and catch the lighting in just the right way. I know I don’t get near to Eva’s talent, but I can be inspired by her, right?



This is Taol, our Tuk Tuk driver, who drove us around Siem Reap for two days. He was a funny guy who would drop us off at a temple that should take about 1 hour to see and would say, “see you tomorrow” as a joke… 


We had our best meal in Cambodia at this place right in front of Angkor Wat. Fish curry in a coconut. I [Tal] had the BEST coconut juice of my life at this place as well.  It tasted like a bit of heaven and this type of fresh, cold coconut juice is now my favorite drink.


One more look at Angkor Wat…


Bayon Temple


Because of the color contrast, Anita loves getting pictures of Buddhist Monks in their orange robes. Whenever a monk was within picture range, she would get our her camera and try to sneak in a few shots. I’ve got to say, they do add to the aesthetics of the shot.


This temple had 36 towers with large smiling faces. Walking amongst those faces made us happy!





This temple was one of our favorites.  The forest had grown over the whole area. The movie Tomb Raider was filmed here…





Below are some really beautiful carvings done at one of the temples. It is assumed that women have carved the images and writings in the following pictures, as they are extremely delicate.




A Cambodian lady that we met outside the temple.  She gave us an idea of what life is like in Cambodia.


Anita snuck this shot in…




 Phnom Penh

Visiting Phnom Penh’s historical sights was difficult in very much the same way it was difficult to go to the Holocaust Museum in Washington DC.  The atrocities that happened here in the mid to late 1970s were very difficult to see and it was nearly impossible to comprehend that kind of cruel, brutal behavior. We first visited the “Killing Fields” where some 30’000 people were killed under the Khmer Rouge regime. Sadly, that is only a portion of all the people killed under Pol Pot’s regime; it is believed that around 2 million Cambodians were brutally tortured and killed during a period of less than three years. It was all done in an effort to “ethnically cleanse” the people of Cambodia.  It was almost too much for us to read and see that men, small children and innocent women were brutally murdered and thrown into mass graves  - and it was so recent! The regime set up incredibly strict rules within the country so they could control the people and give them no sense of belonging other than the regime. There was a poem written after this genocide that helps understand the the conditions the Cambodians had to endure during that time.  Here are some parts of that poem:

No education. No training. No school. No learning. No books. No library. No science. No technology. No pens. No paper.

No currency. No bartering. No buying. No selling. No begging. No giving. No purses. No wallets.

No human rights. No liberty. No courts. No judges. No laws. No attorneys.

No kites. No marbles. No rubber bands. No cookies. No popsicle. No candy. No playing. No toys. No lullabies. No rest. No vacation. No holidays. No weekends. No games. No sports. No staying up late. No newspapers.

No radio. No TV. No drawing. No painting. No pets. No pictures. No electricity. No lamp oil. No clocks. No watches.

No hope. No life. A third of the people did not survive. The regime died.

-Sarith Pou from the book Corpse Watching

Below is the recently built pagoda to remember the people killed and tortured at the Killing Fields.


It is full of the remains of the victims of the Khmer Rouge regime.


The photos of the victims were especially hard to see.  Their faces say so much…



To brighten things up a bit, our first night in Phnom Penh we randomly sat next to a lovely Cambodian couple at a local restaurant.  We found out that they were getting married on May 8th and had only known each other for one week!  We still wonder if we heard incorrectly because they seemed so comfortable around each other.


It was beautiful to see two well educated people (he was born in 1979, which was the end of the Khmer Rouge era) and that they are a good example of the Cambodian people rising up after such a sad era of their history. 

After dinner this couple took us to a Buddhist Temple where we all gave flowers and incense to the Buddha.  It was a really fun night.




  1. Oh yay!! I don't know anything about Malaysia, but you definitely did Cambodia right!! Those were definitely my favorite Temples of Angkor Wat too! And Phnom Penh.. can you believe it? SO sickening.

    I chose not to take pics at the killing fields and later I kind of regretted it. There was a poem on or near that pagoda that I wished I had taken a picture of or had written down. It was so impactful (but not enough so to remember exactly). Thanks for taking pics... and for the description from Corpse Watching. It really is troubling to know that things like this are still happening in the world today... and so recently in history.

    I think EVERYONE should experience Cambodia!! I am so glad you did. That (SE Asia) was one of our all-time favorite trips.

  2. I'd give my eye teeth to go to Angkor Wat (except I'd look pretty funny without them). These pictures are just truly amazing. Guess we've got go back to Viet Nam north too! What an adventure!

  3. aniTa and tal. it was great to read that and i am impressed with your blossoming vocabulary. descriptive and succinct.

  4. Lovely.
    It is so fun to live vicariously through your adventures.
    My son and I just studied Angkor Wat as part of his history class, so I will have to show him your wonderful photos.
    Thank you for sharing your adventures.

  5. Wow you guys are making history. HOw amazing is that. LOVE the stories and the pictures;)i also loved seeing Anita's home. It reminds me of me so much.....I too had an USA flag;)