Published: March 18th 2012March 15th 2012
7th December 2011
A four hour bus ride to Battambang (town in North West of Cambodia) today. I was feeling worse again and toilet trips were becoming extremely frequent. We spent the afternoon roaming around the rather derelict town. We had pasta for the first time since we'd been away (apart from weird pasta breakfast at Hoi An hotel!)
8th December 2011
Following a recommendation from some fellow travellers we contacted Mr Blue a tuk-tuk driver who did tours of the countryside surrounding Battambang. Mr Blue arrived this morning on a tuk tuk painted black with Batman signs and "The Batmobile" written on it. Mr Blue was also wearing a black eye mask. "I am Mr Blue/Batman" he told us! Brilliant!! We knew it was going to be an entertaining day! First stop was the infamous bamboo train station for a ride. A bamboo train is basically a bamboo platform on top of two sets of wheels with an engine attached to the back wheels. Basically you sit on a mat on the platform and hope for the best as you hurtle down the rickety train track at suprising speed! When you see anyone coming the other way
you quickly get off and the less loaded "train" is taken apart and put at the side of the tracks whilst the other passes by. We found out in our hour return trip (1/2 hour to next station and half hour back) that this is quite a frequent occurrence. At the next station we were hearded towards a couple of shops (usual wooden huts with chairs) and offered the chance to buy all sorts of things! We had a drink at one hut and we are both pretty sure the guy we were talking to was an ex Khmer Rouge member. He was extremely shifty, had studied in England and France prior to 1975 (common for Khmer Rouge members) and was very sketchy about his job and hisfather's....oh and did I mention he was uper creepy!
When we got back to original "station" where Mr Blue had dropped us off he was nowhere to be seen. Some other drivers told us his tuk-tuk had a puncture....hmmm.... Anyway he eventually turned up and told us he had been for breakfast!! At least he was honest!
After another trip to toilet it was off to the killing caves. This was
Man and fancy side car stall
Lots of people sell things from these side car stalls, but this was by far the fanciest we saw!
another extremelt depressing experience. Mr Blue told us that adults and children had been brought here to be killed by Khmer Rouge. They had been brought to top of a cave and pushed into it, often after being hit on the head. It is reported that often the people were not dead when they landed and were unable to escape so died a slow death on top of the bodies. Yep grim, really really grim. There were still some skulls there in plastic containers, as there had been at the Killing Fields. Of course Mr Blue was recounting all of this information to us whilst still wearing the "Bat mask" all a bit surreal...but then this is Cambodia! We had already climber a steep hill to get to the cave and it was very hot. Mr Blue had to stop and sit down for about half an hour (during which he also drank most of my water) before he could talk to us...not very Batmanesque! Anyway we had another hill to climb to get to a temple. It was worth the climb though, we had a great view and also got to see lots of monkeys wandering around, one of
whom stole my water...well what was left of it after Mr Blue's efforts! Mr Blue told us, and the monkeys a few folk stories at the top.
Toilet break then off for a drive in the countryside. It was kind of nice to have people staring at Mr Blue in his mask rather than us for a change, I'm guessing they do not do fancy dress very often in Cambodia but all the kids thought it was brilliant. Next stop was some old ruins and we had to climb about a million stairs to the top in the hot sun, also we went past several "danger! Mines" signs which is always a little disconcerting! Our final stop in the way back was to see some fuit bats which lived in a tree near a small village. Mr Blue did a very good job of jumping around a banging sticks to get the huge huge fruit bats to fly around. I'd have thought he had some kind of bat call but apparently not!. In the evening we bumped into Bella of Dan and Bella who we had met all that time ago in Chengdu, China. It was really nice to
see her and have a quick catch up. Dan was in bed so we missed out on his big ginger beard that he had reportedly grown. Maybe we would get that chance later in our travels!
9th December 2011
Bus ride back to Siem Reap, problem with Cambodia is there is only about 1 road going round the country so you end up going back to places you've already been to! Today's bus ride took a lot longer than it should have. 4 hours turned into 6 pretty quickly. We did arrive though and I headed to a pharmacy that looked fairly legitimate, although you could still buy lorazapam and Diazepam over the counter without prescription. I was told that my overuse of the toilet was probably because the malaria tablets I was taking had wiped out all the good bacteria in my stomach and I needed to take good bacteria in the form of probiotic tablets. I was a little dubious that this would kill whatever parasite was causing the problem but they insisted. Later that day things were definitely worse rather than better and I was feeling a bit sorry for myself!
We had a quiet day today wandering around Siem Reap and popping into toilets!! In the evening we went to another BBQ joint and cooked ourselves some more meat etc. Didn't go down too well with my stomach but it tasted good! I decided to pop back to the pharmacy and report on how the good bacteria tablets were doing! The pharmacist was a different one and after asking me a few questions and raising his eyebrows several times (good to know this is a universal thing that doctors and chemists do when you need reassurance) told me that I needed "strong strong antibiotics, bad infection, too many times toilet!!" So antibiotics it was, finally! We then settled down to watch football, Liverpool this time on big screens at the bottom of "Pub street" All the tuk tuk drivers were standing in the street to watch, including a very very enthusiastic Liverpool fan who had a large bet on! Just as the game was ending we heard loads of noise coming from one of the bars and lots of security guards running in. Shortly afterwards a bald white guy in his mid 40's came stumbling out with blood
all over his shirt and running from his hand....looked like he had bottled someone. A woman came out screaming at him about what a bad person he was, she was very very angry! About 5/10 minutes later a crowd was now surrounding this man and it looked like mob mentality might set in, this was not helped by the fact that a young lad came out of the bar with blood pouring out of his face. He was helped into a tuk tuk by a girl who was holdind a whole bunch of tissues to his face, without much success. The rest of the tuk tuk drivers were taking their usual light hearted stance to life and were standing around laughing and reenacting the scenario with some gusto!! We decided it was definitely time to leave.
11th December 2011
Long bus journey to our final Cambodian destination Kratie (pronounce Kra-chey) Luckily I was already staring to need less time in the toilet so it wasn't too bad a journey. We were picked up at 6.45am, take round the corner, got on another bus, dropped 1km up the road then on another bus!! Thuis was after a few comical
interchanges with bus drivers. The first bus I asked the driver where the bus went he replied "yes"...hmmm...guessing he didn't understand or hear so I repeated myself.."Yes!" was the response! OK, we just decided to jump on! Driver of next bus Michael asked "do you go to Kratie" his reply was a smile and "Kampong Cham" which was on the way to where we were going. So we showed him our ticket - he smiled shrugged his shoulders and gestured towards the bus...hmmm.... Anyway it turned out to be the right bus we were going to need to change bus at Kampong Cham. So another long drive with the usual stop offs at Asian versions of service stations - a big room with rice and noodle soup and lots of women trying to sell "pineapple sir, lady?" We arrived in Kampong Cham in what appeared to be the middle of nowhere. There was a very run down looking fairground near by and a couple of busses next to a very nasty toilet...as Michael said why pay to go in there when you can wee on side of the road for free and it is cleaner! We approached at a bus
Man and cattle
Another common sight, first time we remembered to take a snap though!
and asked about whether we could get on to go to Kratie. We were completely ignored so we waited and we wiated and eventually we were allowed onto a bus that pulled up an hour later. This time we were warmly greeted by the man on the bus! We arrived in Kratie a lot later (7pm) it had been a long day!
12th December 2011
Our last day in Cambodia :( We spent the day mooching around the "developing" town. Most of the roads appeared to have been pulled up and some construction work was going on in the centre. It pretty much looked like a bomb site! There was dust everywhere, even more so than the rest of Cambodia and that is saying something! We guessed the work going on was due to the recently opened border crossing we were headed to and thus the increase in tourists stopping by. In the afternoon we took a tuk-tuk to the river to a spot where rare Irrawaddy dolphins can often be spotted. The tuk-tuk drive there took us past lots and lots of houses on stilts and people going about their daily life. Lots of waves and "soosadays"
He would not let us take a picture with the mask off!!!
(hello) and also the occasional scared looking stare from children. Once at the river we got on a boat with a couple of others and went out to see the dolphins. It was pretty good and we saw quite a few popping their fins and heads out every now and then. We saw them catching and throwing fish and fish jumping out of the water trying to escape. Afterwards we sat on the river bank and watched the sunset whilst a group of Cambodians played volleyball (popular sport over here). We also watched two children throwing stones at each other - egged on by a few teenagers. As they got cheered on they started picking up bigger stones. Luckily neither of them had very good aim so we didn't see any injuries, although a passing cow wasn't so lucky. The sunset was beautiful setting over the Mekong and it felt like a good way to say goodbye to Cambodia.
Cambodia we miss you!! What a country.
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