Up early for another boat ride to Battambang - journey to the port was interesting. How many people can you get in an 11 seater minibus? Yes that's right, 18! And it was run by the Krankies, this old lady with shaven hair who was the grumpiest person I have ever met. Then we picked up 2 Yanks from a swish hotel, and the Krankie lady told the woman to get in the front seat, to which she said "does it have seat belts? I can't sit in the front without seatbelts"- there was nearly a riot led by James who had little room in the back as it was - how she had managed so far was beyond the rest of us, but made us all laugh.
The boat ride was long, as the river is very low - it took about 8 hours and we spent the morning on the roof, trying to hide from the sun, but moved downstairs after a lunch stop. All the children run along the banks shouting bye bye - you hear them before you see them! So many floating villages, with their own hair salons and everything. But rubbish everywhere, and more plastic bags than morrisons checkout. Arrived in Battambang, nothing much worth of note that we saw although I am sure there is - we had a bad noodle soup experience, which I think put the place off for us a little - we gave it to a couple of street kids and they seemed to like it!
20 - 23 Jan Phnom Penh
An extremely cheap bus to Phnom Penh, US$5 was great - the bus was pretty comfortable and the roads straight (more or less). We also watched Rambo 4 dubbed version, so we made up the words - extremely violent but this 6 year old boy behind us was enthralled!
Found a hotel room on the waterfront, bit more than we have been paying but it's fine. Walked around to see if could find anything better but we like where we are so we'll stay a while.
21 Jan we went for a walk to the central market and were a bit disappointed. Markets in Laos and Siem Reap were so good, but not here. It's so hot as well, that you can't stand it for long. Plus looking at some trousers on one stall, young girl says to me 'we have really big size'- this was not what I wanted to hear AT ALL, so I huffed and left with James giggling behind me!!
So we quickly went to the Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda. The latter is named due to it's floor of solid silver tiles - which they let you walk on some of them, stuck together in places with sticky tape! No idea. The palace was okay, you couldn't access a lot which was a bit of a swizz but we did see some original silk weaving which was very cool. Found a great bar on the front called Jungle, where you were given cold towels for your face which was the ultimate, when it is so hot outside. We watched the street kids who are everywhere, and one lad in particular was shining shoes, using a lighter to soften the leather. His lighter was running out so James gave him his spare, which was a bit hit and miss which the boy couldn't work out - you should have seen his face when he thought we had given him a broken one, But James showed him how to work it and all was good.
After too long a nap we were limited in food places, so we ate at a place which gives its profits to an orphanage - James played rock scissors paper here with another streetboy, he lost so we bought him a shake. It breaks your heart, they are so small and mainly without shoes, but we buy them food rather than give them money so at least you know they have eaten.
22 Jan - Today we visited the Killing Fields and S21, the former school which became a Khmer Rouge prison. I do not have the words to describe what we saw and learnt - you have to go to see how awful human beings can really be towards each other. It's horrific and only 30+ years ago. It was like something we imagine you see at the camps in Germany. It was a telling reminder of what they went through and how they are still rebuilding their lives, even today.
After this we needed a quiet moment so went to the Foreign Correspondents Bar and had some beer - met an interesting American called Peter who then took us around some other bars etc. He had been living in PP for 3 months so knew quite a lot about the city.
23 Jan - Happy Birthday Jo! Traffic in PP has to be seen to be believed - there is no right of way, there are tuk tuks everywhere and it is a leap of faith everytime you put your foot out for that first step across the road. You just have to stick your foot out and go for it, don't look around don't hesitate, just keep going. We saw all sorts, people with hospital drips, bikes,5 bags of shopping, you name it all on a bike.
We caught a bus to Sihanoukville, which is the coast of Cambodia. Bus trip was okay, cheap and aircon!
We ended up sharing a tuk tuk to Otres Beach with Charlie and Laura, from the UK who have 1 year off and recently spent 3 months in India. The driver took us to Vanny's Bar on the beach, it cost US$5 per night and it was brilliant. Pretty basic, James renamed our room the cooler from the greatest escape movie, as it got pretty hot and the electricity was only on from 6pm - 11pm each night.
24 - 28 Sihanoukville, Otres Beach
The time we have spent here on Otres Beach has been the best so far. We have done very little, met some great people, swam in the sea, been on a boat sea fishing (James 1, Rachel big fat zero!), played pool against little hurricane higgins, lady boy and miss cambodia 2009. It's been fab. Got our visas for Vietnam sorted in 10 minutes, gotta be the quickest ever. James and I both on a motobike plus the driver was an experience, didn't think he would manage it but he did!! And the bike too.
Thanks for the emails, keep em coming, reminds us of you all (cos we've been gone SOOO long, not! and makes us laugh) Hope all is well in sunny UK!! We're off to the beach now (not sorry, so ner!) Next stop is more beach and then Vietnam. Beer Angkor anybody?
Rach and James xxx