Cambodge : collection été en plein hiver

Depuis le 22 janvier dernier, nous avons entamé notre vadrouille au Cambodge. En dix jours, nous en sommes à notre quatrième point de chute. Retour sur cette première partie du voyage.

Phnom Pehn Express

Phnom Pehn

Nous avons quitté Paris sous la neige et sommes arrivés à Phnom Pehn sous un soleil radieux. Nous voila donc à nous balader dans la capitale cambodgienne, les tongs aux pieds.

Vingt-quatre heures nous suffiront pour avoir un premier aperçu de Phnom Pehn : le palais royal, les bords du Mekong, le marché central…

 

En fin d’après-midi, on fait la visite de la prison S21, l’une des prisons / centres d’internement et de torture mise en place par les Khmers Rouges dans le centre de Phnom Pehn. 18000 personnes y auraient transité avant de mourir dans des conditions indescriptibles. Ça fait froid dans le dos, on entend dans l’audioguide les voix des 7 survivants qui racontent leur passage dans cette ancienne école, ainsi que les voix de quelques bourreaux, enregistrés au moment de leur pseudo jugement.

C’est terrible, cela fait à peine 40 ans que cette dictature absurde et paranoïaque est terminée. Tout est si proche. La prison est intacte, on visite les salles de torture, les box dans lesquels étaient enfermés les prisonniers. On voit la potence (balançoire de l’école) qui permettait d’attacher les prisonniers avec les mains liées…

 

Le ton est donné. Le pays se remet à peine de cette dictature. Cette visite nous poursuivra pendant le reste de notre voyage.

On remonte au nord-ouest : Battambang

Le lendemain, nous partons à Battambang, un jolie petite ville située au Nord-Ouest. Culturellement, nous commençons à prendre nos marques : gestion des tuk-tuk, négociation des prix, tests des petits restaurants de rue en bord de fleuve, acclimatation au soleil.

Battambang est une ville qui garde quelques traces de l’époque coloniale française (eh oui…). La ville est dotée d’un joli marché, d’une promenade au bord du fleuve. De beaucoup de scooters aussi, ainsi que de quelques touristes. Le glissement vers plus de tranquillité se fait tout en douceur.

On croise notre premier coucher de soleil Cambodgien.

 

De Battambang, nous partons pour une première journée de découverte des alentours de la ville, en scooter.

On commence par s’arrêter un peu par hasard dans un magnifique jardin, certes un peu décrépi, en voulant trouver une ferme qui produit des fruits. Nous ne trouverons jamais cette ferme, mais cet arrêt aura été rigolo. On tombe sur un jardin complètement improbable, qui a sûrement connu des jours meilleurs. Il y a des bassins, des ponts, des sculptures d’animaux, des cabanes tombant en ruine un peu partout… Ça a un charme certain.

 

Puis nous arrivons à Phnom Banan (Phnom signifie montagne), la seule montagne à des kilomètres à la ronde. Faut dire que globalement le Cambodge est un plat pays.

On accède à cette montagne sacrée par une palanquée de 300 et quelques marches d’escaliers nous permettant d’admirer le temple et les plaines aux alentours.

Fermez les yeux et imaginez. Enfin, ouvrez les yeux, mais faites comme s’ils étaient fermés. Ou alors fermez-les après la lecture. Enfin faites comme vous voulez.

Voilà le décor : il fait chaud, une bonne trentaine de degrés. Devant-vous se trouve un escalier infini, impossible de voir où sont les temples ni le sommet de cette petite montagne (on exagère à mort).
La montée donne à voir un superbe aperçu sur les environs. Des plans d’eau, des forêts. D’en bas, monte une petite musique mélodieuse, assez calme et posée. Playlist « temple section » activée. Ça rythme la montée et renforce le côté mystique de la balade.

Une fois arrivés là-haut, ça commence à sentir la fumée. Les Cambodgiens sont adeptes de la technique du brulis, qui semble aussi leur permettre de brûler pas mal de déchets. Les dernières marches sont particulièrement raides. Ça se mérite de pénétrer ainsi les voies célestes.

Là-haut, en ouvrant bien grand les yeux, on tombe sur notre premier temple « historique ».

Ce temple aurait préfiguré le plan du temple d’Ankgor… Mouais, après avoir vu les deux, on a du mal à s’y retrouver.

Mais c’est quand même sacrément beau cette découverte. Il y a une tour centrale, trois ou quatre tours sur le côté encore à peine debout. Des sculptures sont encore vivantes, des bas-reliefs. Ce temple a près de mille ans, il n’est plus dans sa toute première jeunesse, certes, mais ça a quand même du charme.

On repart à travers la campagne,vers le Phnom Sampov, une autre montagne locale composée de grottes, de temples, de statues, de montées sacrément raides et de chauves-souris.

L’ambiance est plus hétéroclite, il y a des temples par-ci par là, un village, des moines, des singes qui volent les glaces des touristes. C’est beaucoup plus vivant comme endroit.

Il y a sur le site aussi les « Killings caves », une grotte, du haut de laquelle étaient jetés les prisonniers des Khmers Rouges il y a 40 ans.

Le site est très prisé pour ses chauves-souris. Le soir, une fois que le soleil est couché, on peut assister au spectacle de l’envol de millions de chauves-souris, qui se réveillent et s’envolent prendre leur petit déj’.

J’ai bien dit « on peut’. Nous avons complètement foiré notre logistique (nous étions en haut de la montagne, le spectacle se déroulait vers le milieu…) et n’avons pas pu assister à ce décollage. On s’est consolés le soir-même en dévorant des rouleaux de printemps au marché nocturne.

 

Des cours de cuisine pour mieux découvrir la culture Cambodgienne.

Dans notre lancée des découvertes, on prend des cours de cuisine avec le restaurant de rue, le  « Smoking pot » et son sympathique propriétaire Vanash.

Riche matinée, puisque nous allons dans un marché situé à la périphérie de la ville, puis nous traversons le village de Vannak, où la vie s’organise autour de l’agriculture. Vanash nous dit que tout est bio ici, chacun semble avoir son lopin de terre où il cultive différents fruits et légumes.

Une fois arrivés dans la maison de Vannak, on se met aux fourneaux, enfin plutôt au wok, et c’est parti pour les trois recettes typiques que sont le Amok (curry de poisson, lait de coco, cuit à la vapeur dans une feuille de banane), le Lok Lak  (sauté de bœuf mariné dans sa sauce) et une petite soupe au poulet. Aujourd’hui, nous sommes privés de dessert.

 

Pour donner un goût « Cambogien » à vos plats, il vous faut : de la citronnelle, de la sauce de poisson (ou d’huître), du gingembre, du poivre, de l’ail, et du piment a ajuster en fonction du palais de chacun.

Pour finir cette journée sous le signe du plaisir, nous avions décidé d’aller nous faire masser.

On choisit la formule massage khmers, pour faire local.

Un massage que l’on qualifiera de « sportif ». C’est pas la grosse détente sur le moment, mais après une bonne nuit de sommeil, on se sent beaucoup mieux!

On troque le bus contre un bateau

Pour quitter Battamgam nous décidons de voyager en bateau pour rejoindre Siem Rep. De là, nous découvrons la vie au bord de l’eau, en naviguant auprès des villages flottants qui longent le Tonlé Sap.

La suite de ce voyage nous amènera vers les folies d’Angkor…

 

Retrouvez les photos de ce voyage dans cette galerie.

 

 

 

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