Take this road to Luderitz

Namibia is a country of ever changing landscapes. This is true especially in the south, and the road we took to get from /Ai-/Ais to Luderitz to avoid taking the highway twice, was particularly vivid.

Here’s a quick selection of photos from the six hour drive on C13:

landy on white gravel road
The beginning of the drive: white gravel, yellow bush and red rock mountains.
oasis off roading
A bit of red rock off-roading (optional; the original road is the light gray stripe in the distance), with an oasis on the Oranjemund River.
yellow dirt and red mountains
Yellow dirt and red mountains
riverbed
Light dirt road by a green bushy riverbed
paved bridge
A paved bridge over a dry riverbed
gray mountains
White gravel, white sand, gray mountains
tar road
And we have tar! And road lines! And some gravel hills.
flat cement
Flatland. Nothing but flat, flat land with forbidden territory on both sides (diamonds on the left, protected reservation on the right).
The sands
The desert begins and sand whips over the road.
abandoned house
The dunes and desert begins, at times revealing abandoned cars and houses.
And then we were on the moon...
And then we were on the moon…

Photo of the Week: Roots at Ta Prohm

If this looks like a bunch of rubble and chaos, well, you’re right. But I love this photograph, so take a closer look.

Strangling Roots at Ta Prohm Temple. Angkor, Cambodia - YourLocalKat

A couple weeks ago I wrote that Bayon was one of my favourite temples in the Angkor Complex, but Ta Prohm, often referred to as the Tomb Raider temple, was a close runner up for beauty.

After the Khmer empire fell in the 17th century, many temples were abandoned and left behind for nature to do with them as it pleased. Ta Prohm was consumed by jungle, its rooftops covered in seedlings carried there by wind or bird, and what resulted was nothing short of an art form: giant cotton and fig trees sprouting from the temple roofs, their roots slithering through the small crevices in its foundation, cascading down its walls, strangling it into ruin.

Now, held together by those very roots, Ta Prohm is in a sensitive position – allowing the growth to continue will result in the trees ripping apart the stone, but removing the trees will tear the building apart. Ironically, it is the trees that add so heavily to Ta Prohm’s magical appeal, the aspect that tourists remember best.

Luckily, restoration has been in the works for a couple of years now – a collaboration between APSARA (the Authority for the Protection and Management of Angkor and the Region of Siem Reap) and the Archaeological Survey of India for conservation of the temple…and the trees.

Stay tuned for more photos of Ta Prohm and the rest of the Angkor Archaeological Park coming soon!

Photo of the Week: Battambang Bats

The dark gaping slit in the middle of the cliff that was supposed to be the bat cave didn’t look too promising.

And then dusk started approaching, and something inside the darkness began to stir.

Like clockwork, at 5:45, the fruit bats fluttering within shot out, quietly and daintily and soon you could see the dotted line snaking away into the sky for miles.  It was almost comprehensible, the sheer amount of bats overhead.

Bats flying off, Battambang, Cambodia - YourLocalKatEvery evening, the bats make their way towards the floating markets nearby where they feast on a banquet of mosquitoes, and there are so many of them that it takes about two hours for them all to fly out.

How many, you ask? Oh, about EIGHT MILLION :D.

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The bat cave is at Phnom Sampeu, about 17 kilometers from the city center of Battambang, Cambodia, and the bats fly out everyday around dusk.

Photo of the Week: Garbage or Corruption?

This is the scene in the market of Damnak-Changaeur, a four-block-square town on the road north from Kep, Cambodia to Vietnam.

The mess of Damnak Chang'aeur market, Cambodia - YourLocalKatNot somewhere you’d want to buy fresh meat from?

A local store owner explained:  The government in Cambodia is corrupt. It is so bad, that it doesn’t care about the ‘little people,’ and consequently doesn’t bother having the market cleaned up.

That could be one man’s opinion, but the lack of maintenance is evident: the mess that’s left when the market closes at 10am remains throughout the day until it gets somewhat tidied by the sellers as they set up again at three in the morning.

And that’s a reality.

After the market, Damnak Chang'aeur, Cambodia - YourLocalKatBut besides a few gathered garbage piles, the culture in Cambodia is to litter (plastic, paper, mussel shells) and expect someone to tidy up. Is it too ‘western’ to expect pro-active action? Is the government completely to blame?

Photo of the Week: The Only Thing I Liked About Kampot

Kampot is a small riverside town in the south of Cambodia, 60 kilometers east of Sihanoukville, known best for its pepper plantations and fruit farming – namely of the durian fruit.

 

Looking towards Durian Monument. Kampot, Cambodia - YourLocalKatIn fact, the streets all came together at the bizarre looking Durian Monument  – a tropical cocktail in statue form centered on an unnecessarily large roundabout.

Durian Monument. Kep, Cambodia - YourLocalKatOn paper Kampot screamed quaint, charming, and riverside French architecturey; in reality, the durian statue glared down from the deserted and dusty central roundabout obliterating whatever charm the town might have had left.

Bird infestation on a structure in Kampot, Cambodia - YourLocalKat

The roads leaving the Durian statue were wide, too wide for the town and gave it an odd sense of space; there was just too much of it, and it made the town feel quite the opposite of quaint.

French architecture lined the street towards the riverside in that rundown lovely kind of way, the decrepit structures and peeling paint casting a sort of creepy unconventional beauty filter on the town.

Green shutter, green palm. Kampot, Cambodia - YourLocalKat

Even the riverside wasn’t particularly alluring-

except for the blue structure that hung off the sidewalk and disappeared into the sky.

It didn’t stand out, but rather blended in so well with the powder blue yonder and the light blue water that its seamlessness was splendid to look at.

Powder blue horizons. The Kampot Riverside, Cambodia - YourLocalKatIt retained a sense of serenity that Kampot likely had in earlier years, a sense of calm that frazzled expats still maintain it has.

Maybe you will, too.  Or maybe you’ll feel Kampot’s haunting sense of a charming paradise now long lost.

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Note: Kampot is the go-to town for people from Kep as it is only 25 kilometers away and has necessities that Kep simply doesn’t like a pharmacy, a minimart, electronics stores, a book exchange place and a handful of decent restaurants (Captain Chim’s) and cafes (2 Sisters). Also, with ATMs lacking in the area, Kampot is the place to go for its decent Canadia branch, a bank that doesn’t charge any transaction fees – bonus.