Backpacking family visit temples in Cambodia
Most people have to wait until their gap year between school and university before they have the chance to travel around the world. But siblings Finley and Layla West are experiencing the wonders of exotic locations during a three month backpacking trip before even starting primary school. The West family have been keeping us up to date with their travels - this week Finley, four, Layla, two and their parents Andrew and Kate have been visiting temples in Cambodia.
by Andrew West.
CAMBODIA is somewhere we have always dreamt of visiting so it was hard to believe that we actually made it here, along with our two children.
The drastic change from Thailand to Cambodia is vast. It is obvious to us from the condition of the streets that this country is far less wealthy than its neighbour.
It is with regret that we didn't make it here back in 2001 when Kate and I were backpacking as we soon discovered how westernised this amazing part of the world has become.
We arrived on the outskirts of Siem Reap in darkness and as we travelled down the main boulevard the dazzling lights and tall hotels reminded us somewhat of 'The Strip' in Las Vegas.
This aside we acknowledged Siem Reap as an international destination because of its proximity to the temples of Angkor Wat.
In the day the town centre is bustling with market traders selling all sorts, but what caught our eyes was the meat and fish sellers where nothing is left and all is available for sale, even the blood.
We were approached by a man in a wheelchair selling books called Juke.
He lost his arms by stepping on a land mine as a child and told us that his country is blighted by them and on average three people a day will trigger one and either be permanently maimed or killed.
Despite the thousands of tourists, Angkor Wat is a really special place.
We spent three mornings visiting the temples, appreciating this was long enough for the children as boredom might set in.
In the afternoons we retreated to an amazing park where the children could play and interact with the locals.
We watched them both playing so well together.
They have become so close which is lovely as this was another reason for our trip, to allow them to enjoy one another before they are in the academic system.
We left Cambodia humbled by the experience and eager to return again one day.