Running out on Asia…………dispatch # 10

Asia? Wouldn’t it have been more sensible to stop there first time around the world? Bad planning, and a touch of fear.

And the new route? Vietnam, through Cambodia to Thailand.

Isn’t she tired? Homesick? Sounds dreadfully trite, but I might even be beginning to learn something.

She must be missing home-cooked food by now? The availability of snake, dog, frog, rat, scorpion and cricket as delicacies is enough to turn anyone vegetarian.

Being vegetarian isn’t all it’s cracked up to be either. In South East Asia, vegetarianism means tofu, morning, noon and night. If I never see another piece again, it’ll be too soon.

There must be something else to do besides eat? Lots of war relics and sites. Apparently, when a visiting American general saw the Cu Chi tunnels (used by the Vietcong), outside Saigon, he understood why they lost. Also, trying to sort out the various influences left over from the days of the IndoChinese empire.

Isn’t that all a bit dangerous? Only if you stray from the marked paths.

Can’t imagine the Health and Safety implications. Cambodia was worse. The Tonle Sap lake ferry has no safety railing, and crocodiles in the lake (I found this last bit out later). Plus no lifejacket demo on the flight between Siem Reap, and Bangkok. (Does that mean they don’t have any?)

And it was all worth it for? Angkor Wat – a temple complex of some 300 temples and ruins outside Siem Reap. Including Ta Phrom – the jungle temple, which has 300 year old trees growing in, around and out of the temple ruins. The conservationists are having a right headache in deciding what to preserve.

No need to read War and Peace. It’s all there in front of you. Monks, landmines, pagodas, temples, the Killing Fields.

Thailand must have been positively sane in comparison. It is, as they say in Asia, “Same, same, but different”.  Bangkok is like London and New York combined – on speed. One night may well be enough.

Sounds like a right headache. Until you go bamboo rafting up North, near Chiang Mai. Silence, save for the bamboo creaking, and the gentle dull clang of bells signalling elephants nearby.

Best bits? Being in Phnom Penh for New Year 30 (30 being a leftover from Pol Pot’s Year Zero social policy). Waterbombs are the order of the day. The Cambodian response is laughter, and the tourists, anywhere from game to annoyance to confusion. Sunrise over Angkor Wat.

Does that mean it’s over, and we’ll have to deal with her in person again? The King of Cambodia is looking for a wife. Should I apply?

Written 07/08/05