Phnom Penh, Serious Police, Serious Mud, Serious Sights

Phnom Penh


July 1, 2002

Dear Family and Friends,

The rain is incessant so Jeff and I decide to skip the beach at Ko Chang and go directly to the Cambodian border. I misplaced my passport photos so the border guards ripped me off for a couple of extra dollars for the visa. We spent the night in Koh Kong - a dusty and unappetizing place. Actually the hotel was comfortable and had a lovely garden.

The next day, Jeff and I had a disagreement. He was in a hurry to get to Phnom Penh. I wanted to travel slowly to Sihanoukville. So we compromised. He went his way. I mine.

Now, here's an adventure to remember:

I made a reservation on a mini-bus that was due to pick me up at 8:30. It arrived on time at 9:15. After fifteen minutes on a rutted dirt road we were stopped by the police and abruptly sent back to town to the police station.

Siem Reap: Angkor Wat

Siem Reap


July 2, 2002

I left early in the morning by boat to Siem Reap -- the city close to Angkor Wat. This three-hour ride was calm and scenic. Beautiful river, beautiful wide Tonle Sap Lake –- so wide that no land can be seen as we traveled north.

Arrival was at a spot in the middle of the lake. No pier. We climbed aboard a smaller boat.

And since I had made an advance reservation, my driver, standing in his long-tail boat, held a clearly lettered sign, “Welcome Jan Polatschek.” In the middle of a lake. In the middle of Cambodia.

Kantharalak: Khao Phra Wihan, Cambodia



Phra Wihan


December 1, 2004

Dear Family and Friends,

Giacomo and I traveled east from Nang Rong, a five hour bus ride to Kantharalak, and checked into the Kantharalak Palace Hotel.

The next morning we hired motor-bike taxis and sped south to the Dangrek Range, the mountains of the Thai-Cambodia border.

Unexpectedly, our drivers took us first to Khao Phra Wihan National Park - one of the sites designated as "Unseen Thailand." I'm glad we saw it.

Down a long railed stairway, past the "good luck" sticks "holding up" the mountain, was a small sensitively carved bas-relief executed directly into the sheer face of the cliff, looking outward to the deep valley and plains below. The smooth and detailed images are a mystery to the archaeologists.

Then, across the border to the main site.

The Polsons In Southeast Asia



March 24, 2013

Dear Friends and Reluctant Travelers,

Earlier this year, my cousins Betty and Jim Polson visited Southeast Asia for the first time.

They flew from Portland, Oregon to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) to visit friends and stay with the family in their home.  Then they came to Bangkok and made a side trip to Angkor Wat in Cambodia.  They returned to Bangkok and flew to Chiang Mai in the north.

I arranged everything for Thailand and Cambodia through a travel agent I know very well.  All the local hotels, domestic flights and excursions were booked in advance.

 Frankly, I was a bit concerned.  Despite all the detailed arrangements, I was not sure if Jim and Betty could adapt to such a different environment.   As it turns out, my anxiety was completely misplaced.