The Road Ahead : April 2013
QUEENSLAND'S LARGEST CLUB APR/MAY 2013 THE ROAD AHEAD 33 LOUISE SOUTHERDEN KNOWS her subject, having won the Australian Society of Travel Writers' Writer of the Year award three times (most recently in 2012), the Best Journey or Adventure award (twice) and the Jack Butters Memorial award. She is also a three- time winner of the Best Responsible Tourism award. Here, she details what she considers to be the six 'must sees' in Cambodia and Vietnam ... CAMBODIA Angkor Wat. Built by successive kings of the Khmer Empire between the 12th and 16th centuries, the World Heritage- listed temple complex of Angkor Wat is a stone-message from an ancient world, made up of more than 1000 temples (many still inhabited by saffron-robed monks) surrounded by 200-metre-wide moats and accessible by bridges flanked by dragons. The main sites are Angkor Thom (literally 'great city'), best known for its giant stone faces (216 in all) of the bodhisattva of compassion; Ta Prohm, the 'Tomb Raider' temple, where strangler figs draping themselves over the ruins play a starring role; and Angkor Wat itself -- the largest religious monument in the world and described by 19th-century French explorer Francis Garnier as 'the masterpiece of an unknown Michelangelo'. In the late afternoon light, the reflections in the pond in front are worth the price of admission alone. Come at sunrise or sunset, at night, by bike, tuktuk, elephant, hot-air balloon or helicopter -- just make sure you see Angkor Wat. The Killing Fields. Between April 1975, when the Khmer Rouge 'liberated' Cambodia from a corrupt martial government, and January 1979, when the Vietnamese army overthrew the Khmer Rouge, an estimated two million people died of starvation or were killed by Pol Pot's henchmen. The Killing Fields, 16km south-west of Phnom Penh, was the largest of the country's 343 'killing centres' and is MAIN IMAGE: HA LONG BAY. PHNOM PENH ROYAL PALACE. ANGKOR WAT SUNRISE. VIETNAM SCENE. WAR RELIC. LOCAL TRANSPORT. ALL IMAGES COURTESY THINKSTOCK EXCEPT 'LOCAL TRANSPORT' (COURTESY ADVENTURE WORLD). Getting the most out of your trip to Cambodia and Vietnam.