June 24, 2010
By Danielle Lancaster
Touched down in Siem Reap at midday today – it’s so good to be back. On the way in, we flew over Tonle Sap – the largest lake in south-east Asia where Miss J and I myself visited last year. It fills with the waters of the Mekong and upon its waters sits whole villages. Their houses, multi storey wooden frames where families of 17 or more may reside in one room with the pigs, hens and any other animals supported upon frames under the main house but safe from the water below. If you are ever over this way, mark it as a must do.
After I checked in to my room I did what any person would do lugging a heavy pack loaded with camera gear would do and headed for my favourite massage haunt downtown. After an hour and a half of deep Khumer rubbing, pulling, cracking and a touch of reflexology, I feel fantastic and all for the total sum of $10 US.
Then I cruised through the old markets – in some places holding my nose on my way – to find an old friend and Miss J, if you are reading this, I found Chamnan and there were many hugs all round. He has loved his gifts and is in awe of how big Australia is. Chumnan was our driver last year with his Tuk Tuk and we formed a great bond with a highlight of our trip he taking to meet his wonderful family over an hour away from Siem Reap who he sees only every few months. It broke our hearts as we were leaving seeing his twin girls and wife with new baby in arms crying.
The clouds have eventually broken and outside my room the rain is bucketing down giving some relief to the heat – a minor 31 degrees here today but plenty humid enough to have us all sweating well and truly.
Off to meet the others now (after a much needed shower) and receive our first assignment for tomorrow. Looking forward to getting to know one of my favourite places in Asia that bit better, shooting with the others and of course enjoying the fine cuisine of Khumer cooking!
Imgae by Danielle Lancaster