Our second day trip to the beach in Sihanoukville had to be handled more strategically. We couldn't go back to the "busy beach" and be swarmed by more beauty teams, fruit sellers etc.... Our hotel told us of another beach- Outres - about 20 bumpy minutes away by tuk-tuk. We went and spent a MUCH more relaxing day there. We read and swam and walked and returned home to our hotel for another great meal and a movie night with our inhouse DVD player. "Bucket List". We cried.
The Next Day - it was off to Kampot to a riverside hotel called Les Mangieurs (The Mango Trees).This trip was two hours in a 12-seater van. When the van arrived for pick up there were 18 of us and luggage. The Cambodian drivers talked and phoned and talked some more amongst themselves until they had a plan. Next thing we knew all 18 of us were squished in, the driver got behind the wheel and then just when you thought there was absolutely NO room...one more Cambodian got in between the steering wheel and the driver's door! And off we went down the road honking at all oncoming traffic. Thank goodness we all had deodorant on and the van had air conditioning.
We arrived in Kampot and took a tuk- tuk to our place 15 minutes out of town. Off we went on a bumpy road until we saw our place in the middle of a grove of trees by a quiet river. A huge airy main building with comfortable seating surrounding by a dozen cottages on stilts. We got our keys to C4 and climbed the stairs. We are back in mosquito country so inside there was netting everywhere-the windows, the ceiling, and of course a net over the bed. An 8x11 sheet of paper instructed us that should we have problems with spiders, rats or snakes we were to call the office for assistance. The wild animal life was actually the least of our problems although Tracy did accidentally surprise a salamander when she sat on the toilet and we did have to call "spider man" to deal with a coaster-sized spider on our ceiling this was not successful so Tracy kept a very close eye on everything!). It was actually the neighbourhood noise that kept us awake. Karoke on into the night and a lengthy announcement from a car-mounted megaphone starting at 7:00 am reminding all of us in a 40 mile radius from town that today was a special holiday.Its true Tracy did wonder where Pol Pot was when we needed him.We also have a number of families, many of them French as neighbours. One family of four sounds like a family of 12 and enjoy screaming at the top of their lungs under our hut day and night. So peaceful in the country.
Meals seem a little tricky. Lacking any instructions, we ask about how suppers actually work. We are told to be sure we are on the guest list for supper and then told we just show up at the assigned time. Menu....a surprise. Night #1 rice, pork, breaded shrimp, cucumber salad and.....seriously...some fish with whiskers served on a stick. By candle light we are never sure if the food is actually cooked. The whisker fish was a no-go, the pork is likely dodgy and the shrimp probably from the grey brown river below our dining hall. Lets just say you could eat a lot of rice and salad here.
The next day we decide to take a two person kayak up the river to see the sights nature has to offer. Tracy in front. Lynda in the back. The kayak is free and WOW also free of any sort of steering - rudder or keel. Our trip up river was probably twice as long as we veered from shore to shore. Sister Kate would have kept saying "Not into the Palm Fronds" The wind from time to time threw water back into our faces so we had to keep our mouths shut for most of the trip. From time to time Tracy would murmur through closed lips such sentences as "Did you see that pagoda?" And Lynda would respond "Hmmm" to avoid yet another mouthload of grey brown shrimp water. Lynda was convinced everything brown floating in the water was poo but Tracy was not sure - pinecone? stick? snake???
The next day over breakfast of stale white French loaf, small dollops of strange jam and bad coffee we make plans to go into town by bike. Free bikes with real steering and an easy but bumpy ride into Kampot. We work on Internet, do a little shopping and a few errands as we browse around town. Maybe we will find some edible food. We manage to make about 1 hour of jobs stretch out to 5 by having lunch, biking all around the streets, spreading our money around in various stores and visiting the local market (really not touristy and with more escaped eels - watch out!)
That night, we go out on the boat tour...we are thinking it might be a little pathetic at the beginning as we sail through the dark watching fish jump with our flashlights but then MAGIC...we come to trees so covered in fireflies that they are like Christmas Trees decorated with mini-white lights. We watch and ooh!!! and ahhh!!!! with our fellow boat passengers (in various languages). Then we move to a location on the river where there is phosphorescent plankton - glowing and when we swirl our hands through the water, it is like fireworks...spreading greenish gold sparks in the wake...they flow from our hands. Amazing...Lynda even puts her hand in the water she thinks has poo floating in it....wow, progress. This is one experience that we will remember forever ($2.00 per person - memory pricesless!!!)
Tomorrow, off to Vietnam. We have our expensive VISA stamps for 30 days ($45.00 but no craziness like last time) and have our transportation booked. Sure to be another adventure....