Sihanoukville 21 - 23 Jan
This beach resort is THE perfect place to unwind - not that I need it after only 10 days or so - but any excuse to laze around on a beach!
Took in a great boat trip to one of the more isolated islands, went snorkelling from the boat (great fun but I need more practice to gain confidence out of my depth),did some basic fishing from the boat and just chilled out!
Did much swimming and think I may have caught the sun - OUCH! - I have!
Great BBQ seafood here with Barracuda a firm favourite, out with the gang again last night for a few drinks and a bit of a boogie, but reasonably early to bed - another afternoon trip arranged for Wed 23 Jan.
Wed 23 Jan
Four of us hired a jeep for the afternoon with a guide and toured the area around Sihanoukville.
Visite a local fisherman's village - Tom Drop Rolok (Wave Dam), and then on to Reap National Park for a swim on a deserted beach. On to K'bal Chhay Waterfall (a mere trickle at this time of the year), and then took in the sunst from the highest point in Sihanoukville - Wok Choyniene (Wok Leu).
That evening was a great BBQ tuna - not just a steak but the whole darn fish! Delicious!
Thurs 24 Jan
Very early start - long public bus journey to Phnom Peng for 2 day stay in this noisy and busting capital of Cambodia.
In the afternoon we all visited the Tuol Sleng "Genocide" Museum - a harrowing experience with some vivid and horrific photos on the torturing of "fellow "Cambodians drt\ring the Khmer Rouge reign of terror (1975 - 1979).
Then if that wasn't enough we were taken to the "Killing Fields" of Choeungek where many thousands of Cambodians were taken to be executed. A real sobre-ing afternoon.
That evening we all chilled out at the Rondong Restaurant.
Fri 25 Jan
An early breakfast to get a good start for a tour round the Royal Palace complex and Silver Pagoda. Then on to the oldest Wat in Phnom Peng - Wat Peng.
After all that walking I was in much need of a massage - and there just happened to be one close by! Handy that!
Set me up for a good stroll round the Russian Market.
Had a very heavy downpour for about an hour from 7-15pm. The first rain!
Sat 26 Jan
A 6 am start as we leave Cambodia and head for the border with Vietnam and onto Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon).
Arrive to much hustle and bustle - very hot, noisy, manic. Don't know if this city and me are going to get on!
First impressions are than the Vietnamese appear to be more affluent and generally cleaner than the Cambodians but are far less friendly and seem to be out to get what than can from the tourist - plus a little bit more on top!
The Cambodians are certainly poorer, but they are friendlier and seem to always have a smile ready - despite all their troubles and grief.
Having said that though I can't say that I used to wander around London smiling at the visiting tourists!
The HCM city is fast paced and furious with thousnads on mopeds on the streets, honking their horns as they weave in and out of other traffic, in what seems to be an all out concerted effort to make as much noise as is possible on their 2-wheelers!
That said, crossing the road is fun and quite safe!
Sun 27 Jan
A lazy Sunday - of sorts.
Took a cyclo-ride to see the Notre Dame Cathedral (closed until 3pm!), the Post Office (great building),and the City Museum.
Had a row with my cyclo driver who tried to rip me off! - These pesky Vietnamese - see, I told you! Perhaps it's the fact that I walk around with "TOURIST MUG" tattooed across my forehead!
Went for a cooling refreshing lemon drink. After thatI decide to walk - at least I do actually know how much that will cost me!
Off to the Re-Unification Palace - where the US Officers in Charge were HQ'd during the Vietnam War, then on to the War Museum for more atrocities of war - mainly from the Vietnamese point of view (understanderbly).
A couple of Pagodas just for good measure - Xa Loi and the larger An Quang, and then back to Notre Dame for a stroll round that - not terribly impressive.
In the evening we changed Tour Guides for this next leg of the trip - into Vietnam proper.