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Ancient temples, Khmer New Year and child-loving orang utan's
Last updated: 30. June 2010 - 18469 Clicks - Enable Print View
Manila, Philippines, 21 May 2010, 34 degrees Celsius

Boy in Dr. Beat Richner's Children HospitalAlthough he had a big birthday cake from the hostel in Myanmar in his hands, Andri wasn’t congratulated to his birthday at the airport of Bangkok, but informed that our flight to Siem Reap, Cambodia was canceled. Not enough passengers was the reason – eight hours waiting at the airport in Bangkok the consequence. Despite the delay, there was a joyful reunion with Andri’s father but we missed the weekly concert of pediatrician Dr. Beat "Beatocello" Richner in Siem Reap. We regret the delay a lot as we are deeply impressed by his work and his commitment. For the past nearly 20 years he has been working in Cambodia with his tireless dedication to the most destitute children. Under his leadership he already opened in 1992 the first Children's Hospital in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. He now operates five children's hospitals in Cambodia, which are all free of charge for the children. The numbers are more than impressive: In 2009, 84,000 children were hospitalized and 740,000 outpatients were treated. According to estimation 3,200 Cambodian children would die each month without the free treatment at the hospitals because they could not afford medical treatment as 80% of the population in Cambodia have an average income of 0.5 USD per day... [1] More information here: Dr. Beat "Beatocello" Richner.

Temples of Angkor WatWe finally landed in 40 degree hot Siem Reap. Together with Andri's father we visited the temples of Angkor for three days before we got to know the Killing Caves in Battambang, another sad chapter of Cambodian history: the Khmer Rouge. From 1975 to 1979 the regime killed about two million Cambodians. Therefore it is not surprising that today, only few older people are living in Cambodia. Via Phnom Penh, where we said goodbye to Andri's father we went back to Siem Reap and witnessed a cheerful celebration: in Cambodia New Year is being celebrated three days long! Close to one of the ancient temples were the biggest celebrations with rifle shooting, a hand-powered carousel and a fenced open-air disco, for which 50 cents admission was required. Also the security officials at the airport in Siem Reap had probably celebrated too much: they denied us to take fried noodles on the plane because they would contain more than 100ml fluid ... ;-) The confiscated breakfast, we forgot quickly in Kuala Lumpur, thanks to our friend, Tracy, as she let us taste again the finest dishes of Chinese, Indian and Malaysian cuisine. Now we were strengthened for the climb of Mount Kinabalu in East Malaysia, but we were deterred by the cost of more than 200 CHF for the climb ... Instead we enjoyed the Orang Utans in Sepilok, which grabbed instead of the food provided a small child from the crowd and wanted it to take back to the rainforest.

Orang Utan at Sepilok Orang Utan Sanctuary Outrigger boat in the Philippines Turtle and air bubble

Sunset in CoronIn Semporna, our last stop in Malaysia, we enjoyed first class diving in and around Sipadan. Sipadan is a nature reserve that offers an incredible diversity of marine life. During one of our dives we were unfortunately acoustic witnesses of dynamite fishing: Throw a stick of dynamite into the water and collect the dead animals on the surface. Also in the evenings it was not lightning, but dynamite explosions we saw in the distance... In Manila we experienced what we have already been warned of by other travelers - bad food and lots of local fast food. On our journey through the Philippines we were confirmed that the Philippine cooks are not gifted with talent – the money is better invested in the cheap local beer! On Palawan, we enjoyed beautiful beaches and snorkeling excursions (again, dynamite is well known here). Unfortunately, we had to recognize that the locals are already used to tourists, which means flexible pricing depending on customer or price agreements among themselves with the corresponding control, that the profits remain high. From the former bay of dreams, but now touris trap, El Nido, we boarded an overcrowded boat towards Coron. Unfortunately, the boat was not designed for big waves, so that the journey was long and strenuous. In Coron we were compensated by Thomas, our dive instructor: During six days, the three of us dived 11 Japanese shipwrecks from World War II. The largest is 160m long, the rudder alone, 8 meters high! Pretty hot we got in a lake which is up to 38 degree Celsius and we also could play with shrimps! After being spoilt with food by a French guy in Coron, we wanted to board the plane to Manila. But first, we were individually weighted by the airline upon check-in ;-) After another Manila-junk-food session we continued to China.

See ya, we've gone away.
Corina & Andri

[1] All figures used and data are from official and publicly accessible publications by Dr. Beat Richner, Kantha Bopha Children's Hospital or the Foundation. Homepage: http://www.beatocello.com
Pictures to this article:
In Cambodia the temples of Angkor, in Malaysia Orang Utans as well as world class diving and the Philippines with beautiful beaches and wrecks from the World War II. - View pictures
Comments about this article: 2 comments so far | Post a comment
1. July 2010 | Heidi Wrasmann said...
Auch als Auslandschweizer freut man sich über die wunderschönen Bilder und die sehr informativen Berichte, weiterhin gute Reise!
27. June 2010 | Ursula Arn said...
Man spürt es, ein Jahr schriftstellerische Tätigkeit hat den Schreibenden enorm geschult. Der Bericht ist so prägnant, nur das Wesentliche steht drin, kein Wort zuviel, herzlichen Glückwunsch

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