|Good Morning Folks.
I say good morning as by the time we were back in our hotel, after another full day, it was late and all I had time to do was to upload some images before It was hit the sack time! I set the alarm for 6.00 but was up at 5.30 anyway. Having slept reasonably well in the most enormous bed, (could get 5 in easy!) it was ablutions dress and back in front of computer.
The day started yesterday with breakfast at a little restaurant back in Stung Treng. Two things to report here. 1. Time is of no importance to the Cambodians. 2. Nathan has a bigger appetite than me! (hard to believe but true). Breakfast almost turned into lunch as after ordering a full English at 8.00, and chasing it up several times, it arrived at 9.15!!! I kid you not. It was very good when it arrived but put us behind the clock for the day.
Being behind the clock is not something Kree (our driver) likes to be. So after we had finished it was full speed ahead in our gas converted, suspension drastically modified , Toyota. The roads were fine to start but deteriorated rapidly. They were built with money from China but by the time it fed down to the people laying the roads, several people had had a cut of the funds and all that was left was enough for a thin covering of tarmac. Come rainy season and overloaded lorries and they go straight through the surface. Hence large areas with no tarmac at all, some with massive craters and some with half decent sections. Kree seemed to make 50 – 60 mph over everything but the most severe sections which brought even him to a total crawl. It proved for an interesting 2 hour drive until we arrived at Sambor Village to see the 100 pillar Wat. This wat had been destroyed by the Khmer Rouge back in the 70’s and rebuilt in 1997. Today there are just 5 monks in residence here. We had just missed the Monks lunch which Nathan says is always interesting and they were sitting in the shade, their last meal taken until the following day. (they don’t eat after mid day). Nathan chatted to the monks and hey presto, one agreed to show us around and didn’t mind his photo being taken. Great photo opportunities! After a look around the lovely complex, it was back in with Jenson Button and we were off again. We still had another 1.5 hours’ drive to the Hotel in Karate.
Along the way we stopped at a bridge where a couple of youngsters were jumping off into the river below. They thought our arrival was a good time to show off and we were treated to a series of high jumps and then scrambling back up the bridge ironwork – see pics.
We eventually arrived at the hotel and I now know where half of the felled oak trees ended up! This place has the most highly polished, very very large and heavy teak furniture everywhere. It is so over the top. The rooms are large and my bed would sleep 5 easily- again see pics.
As we were still a bit behind time we drove off without lunch to go on a dolphin watching trip. We boarded a small boat on the outskirts of Kratie and went looking for the extremely rare Irrawaddy dolphins that only live in a relatively small section of the Mekong river. Although it was great fun and we did see them not too far away, I ended up with lots of out of focus dots for my efforts!
Back in Kratie we went to a restaurant where we had lunch. We did have power snacks earlier of banana wrapped inside rice and banana leaves then bbq’d. I had 1 – Nathan 3. I had a very nice Khmer red curry and rice with pineapple milk shake (makes a change from coke!). Lunch over we were off aging, this time to the local ferry port where we took a small boat (after much price negotiating) to a lovely island in the Mekong. Once on the island, which entailed a scramble up the bank, we hired 3 motorbike taxis (sorry Jude!!) and slithered off on dirt tracks to the other side where there were some Vietnamese people living on a floating village. Unfortunately, with the river now high, we couldn’t get across to them. We took the dirt road back and went through a small village where the kids clustered around wanting their photos taken. We chatted to lots of the villagers who were so warm and welcoming. It was then back on the boat and back to Kratie where we had our dinner on a balcony restaurant overlooking the Mekong. Lovely meal, lovely setting and we watched the sun go down. Despite being invited to a local disco by a very attractive lady who had her eye on Nathan, I at least made a relatively early night as it was up early and blog writing. The things I give up to keep this blog going!!
Well that’s about it, I have 5 min to get my gear to reception and then is off for the next exciting episode. Oh, it’s all going too quickly!!
See you soon.