Once recovered from the mini - mini bus we arrived in Phenom Penn. Avoiding the age old scam of arriving late and settling down into the guesthouse you get dropped off at, we hopped onto the back of 2 motorbikes for a journey across the city. Using the lonely planet to help the moto driver navigate his way through the streets we made it to our hotel. Employing a crash course in Cambodian Mr. P. managed to secure us a healthy discount on our room - a massive $2 / night and we grabbed a bite to eat then crashed out, very exciting!
The next morning we got stuck into all the interesting sights PP has to offer. This included the National Museum, and the royal Palace, alas, the king didn't make an appearance - how rude! After lunch we hopped in a tuk-tuk and headed out to Teung Sleng (also known as S-21). Mrs. P. was in two minds whether to go to this museum as it detailed all the atrocities that went on under Pol Pot in the 70's. Not an uplifting tourist attraction but something we felt we both should see.
We then headed back into town to soak up some of the full moon festival(another one!!). This was a Cambridge Oxford boat race gone mad. Hundreds of villagers get together to race boats hawai five o style up river. Knock out rounds Thursday, Friday, Saturday, final Sunday. We only stayed for the Thursday, but the poor old king had to sit through until the Sunday. We reckoned he had a stunt double who sat in for him because an hour of racing was just beyond threshold of any normal sane person. The evening entertainment surpassed anything we have seen so far on the trip. Think Stars in their eyes cambodian style. Each singer had fifeteen minutes to impress the judges with an instrument that sounded like a cat p*ssing in a tin sink accompanined by an incessant wailing. The winner was the one who had the greatest number of judges left at the table at the end of their performance. Still the locals enjoyed it all.
Next day we doubled up on a moto to make the journey out to the Killing Fields. Again, something we felt important to do. On the way back we got a glimpse into real village life when the moto driver took us back to his house to meet the family. Three on a bike is not the most comfortable way to travel on a tarmac road, three on a bike down a dirt track was likened to 90km on a mountain bike!
Leaving the festivities of Phenom Penn behind we caught the bus upto Battambang. Lonely planet described it as "Blissful Battambang", the only thing blissful was us leaving the following day on a boat to Siem Reap. Nothing to mention here, highlights included simon geting his haircut and a stay in a hotel infested with insects. Think final scene in "Silence of the Lambs" when Clarice Starling goes to the baddies house and discovers all those bugs....
The boat journey to Siem Reap was amazing. We travelled through some of the remotest floating villages and swamps, through some beautiful countryside and even a bird sanctuary!
On arriving in Siem Reap we duly mounted the back of a moto for the 15KM journey into town, yes you guessed it, down another dirt track. Siem Reap is nothing to write home about but does act as the gateway to Angkor Wat, anyone who has seen Tomb Raider will unboubtedly recognise some of the temple ruins. Mr. P. was looking forward to seeing Angelina Jolie running around the jungle in next to nothing, only to be sadly dissapointed to bump into a thousand japanese tourist on one long photo shoot.
The temples didn't disappoint, Angkor Wat was absolutely stunning and we even managed to get there for sunrise at 05:30 am(thats how good it was!). In our own chauffeur driven Tuk-Tuk we spent 3 fantastic days seeing absolutley everything there was to see for an unforgettable experience. Combined with getting locked out of our hotel room, seeing the biggest Gheko in the world(it was the size of a monitor lizard I swear) and very a painless journey back to Bangkok(we flew) we really enjoyed ourselves and would rank Angkor up there alongside the Great Wall.