So, from dusty ancient temples to the seaside at Sihanoukville. This, as promised, will be a much shorter entry – namely because we didn't do a great deal except laze around on the beach.
Sihanoukville is not far from the Vietnamese island of Phu Quoc, where we were with Alice, but we'd wanted to sandwich our beach time with a bit of culture so we've ended up going a bit of a round-the-houses route. Sihanoukville is not as pristine as Phu Quoc and there are lots of young 'uns there, but it was just the ticket for a few days' relaxing on the sand.
We stayed in a pretty basic place, but right by Serendipity beach so it was lovely to have breakfast overlooking the sea and see the monks pounding the sand. We also managed a 'big night out', by that I mean we made it past midnight – we are seriously getting old! The local moonshine, Mekong Whisky, tastes oddly vaguely coconutty but makes for a fun evening.
We managed to stir ourselves to take a trip (down the bumpiest dirt track ever) to Otres Beach on the other side of the island, which is a bit quieter and a little more grown up. And then, after a last morning soaking up the rays we (reluctantly in my case) got back on the bus (getting a bit bored of bus journeys of indeterminate length by this point), again to Phnom Penh for a night.
Next morning it was up bright and early to head North East to Kratie, hoping for a glimpse of the rare Irrawaddy dolphins. There are 75 of these critically-endangered fellas in the Mekong near Kratie, and we were lucky enough to spot a few on a peaceful longboat trip in a very calm, wide area of the river.
Kratie was our last night in Cambodia before heading across to Laos. We've really loved Cambodia – definitely one of favourite countries from the whole trip. Beautiful place, wonderful people and beer cheaper than water, what's not to like?!
From Kratie, it was another hideously early start and a pretty horrendous journey, including two minibuses, one normal(ish) bus, a long, hot wait at the Laos border, a long-boat and some walking in the blazing sun with backpacks. Definitely not flash-packing at this point... The first mini-bus was certainly an experience to remember (for all the wrong reasons) – it was ¾ jam-packed with rice sacks and other produce, leaving six passenger seats into which eleven people were squeezed. Well, I suppose it's one way of getting up close and personal with the locals...
But finally - aaaah - we made it to Don Det, a tiny island in the 4000 Islands archipelago. We'll post this as a separate entry too, if only to split the photos, but we did less here than Sihanoukville, so an even shorter post!
Back in a mo,
Helene and Roland xxx