Well another month has passed, and we now find ourselves in Cambodia. We had originally thought that we would stay another three months Teaching in Vietnam but the old itchy feet were taking hold again, so we decided to hit the road.
We really did enjoy our time in Nha Trang, the Teaching was a challenge at times, but also very rewarding. Towards the end I started teaching children 4-12 years old and it was good fun but took lots of energy. We really tried to get involved with the local kids whilst there and had several outings with them. One Sunday we spent the afternoon with a lot of Environmental students cleaning up a local beach, which earned us some very strange looks from the locals, between us we managed to fill about 3 dozen large rice bags of rubbish, not good! Unfortunately the government doesn't provide the education or the rubbish bins, so most of the rubbish is left where it is dropped, and in most cases ends up in the sea!
On another occasion we organised, or so we thought, a trip to take 16 students with us on one bus out for the day, to
a waterfall that our Friend Dat had told us about. We organised or so we thought, for the students to organise lunch, we had booked the bus and all were ready to have a great day out, or so we thought! but like like most things in Vietnam what we think you are getting and what you get is sometimes very different! Anyway the bus cancelled on us the night before, and we thought about cancelling the whole thing. When we rang our boss at the school to tell him this, he wouldn't hear about it. It turned about that there were about 45 students coming, he had organised to buy all the food, and so now we had to come up with two buses! Anyway after a few frantic phone calls, we managed to find two buses that were available and so, with loaded buses and Dean, Dat and the Boss leading on motorbikes we hit the road. The area that we went to was beautiful, about 35 klms from Nha Trang. There was a lovely cool pond at the bottom of the falls were we enjoyed a cool dip and the students all cooked us a great BBQ
lunch. On the way back to Nha Trang we stopped at a small valley that Dat had told us about where the people are doing it very hard. The students had organised used clothing, food and books to take to the locals and it was very touching to see these people accepting their gifts. Unfortunately the only dampener to the day were two other Aussie teachers who also came with us, who where both of the opinion that if there is water available no one should be hungry or poor! Go figure.
Anyway all in all we had a great time in Nha Trang, enjoyed the teaching experience , met some great people and enjoyed lots of yummy meals, drinks and days out with new found friends.
We left Nha Trang on the 26th June on an overnight bus to Can Tho in the Mekong area, the trip took just over 13 hours and surprisingly we slept very well. By going that way we avoided going into Saigon. The seats are all fixed in a semi horizontal position and with the Air con on it was pretty good. We only had a short time to wait for the
next bus to take us across to Rach Gia (3 hours), and than after another short wait the last bus to take us to Hon Chong (4 hours) for a couple of nights before heading to Phu Quoc Island. The trip took us 20 hours and cost about $35.00. The last bus was something else. It had an old Buddha on the dash board with bobbing head and lovely flashing lights! There were holes in the floor and as you were walking up the aisle you could feel the floor move! Halfway through the journey we stopped to pick up a washing machine and with the roof already full, it too was just loaded in with us. Anyway we arrived safely. We had already phoned ahead to stay in a small home stay, but when we arrived find out that they have let the room to their son and his wife so we were walked next door to a Government Hotel. We walked through the back gate and on our right were some rooms in the worst state of repair, Dean & I just looked at each other. Fortunately it turned out that they also had some quiet nice rooms
for $9.00 a night with fan and hot water, so that did us for the couple of nights.
The next day we organised a motorbike and just as we set off the heavens opened up. Nice for us, the first real rain we had seen in a long time, but with most of the roads being clay they turned into big puddles in no time. We had a great time wondering around the area, we also rode up to Ha Tien, a town very near the Cambodian border, and enjoyed a nice lunch on the beach.
The next morning, Chinh the lady from the home stay had organised for us to get to Phu Quoc Island by Cargo boat. She very kindly rode back to a place called Ba Hon with us ( on the same old bus) and got us tickets for the boat for $6.00. I sometimes think we must be too used to our ways back home, because when she mentioned a Cargo boat we both immediately thought, Cargo boat of the steel variety, wrong yet again, our Cargo boat turned out to be of the rotting wood variety, captained by a man who I
like to call Captain Pug Wash. He had the biggest smile, and even bigger false teeth, and very proudly wore a cowboys hat. He spoke no English, so just smiled and nodded for the whole four hour journey. We were very fortunately because our $6.00 had obviously brought us first class tickets up the front with the captain because the rest of the passengers were up the back, right behind the engines, trying to get comfortable on top on all the rice bags. We at least didn't had to cope with the smoke of the diesel. At Ba Hon we watched as all the pigs, chickens and ducks were loaded aboard and then all the fruit and veg, eggs and rice as everything needs to be taken to the Island as they grow very little there, most of their income is from fishing. Quiet a sight watching several guys trying to get about 100 reluctant pigs on a boat!
Anyway just as we were ready to leave another storm broke, boy the boat was rolling and the waves quiet high, being the great sailor that I am I decided that the only way to cope with it was to
find three spare feet and curl up and sleep, luckily after a couple of hours the sky cleared and the sea was again quiet calm. We stayed at a great little hotel on Phu Quoc called the Beach Club, a great place right on the beach on the West side of the Island. The rooms there were $15.00 a night and ours overlooked the beach. Phu Quoc has just been voted the number one undeveloped Island in the world, so for how long it stays that way, well remain to be seen.
Again we hired another bike and spent the next couple of days riding around the Island. There are only two tarred roads on the Island and after the rain of the day before the clay roads were full of puddles. One day we found a great beach on the East Coast called Sao beach and it was post card material. White sand, palm trees, clear water, the works. We had a great feed of squid there. The next day we headed north on some more really bad roads and went right to the top of the Island. On the way back the heavens opened again, and boy
did it come down, real tropical rain, thank goodness Dean was in control of the bike not me! At night we ate at the local Market and had some great seafood, all for about $6.00.
After five nights we set off for the mainland again for our border crossing into Cambodia. This time we took the fast ferry and things were very civilized. Just 1 and a half hours and we were in Ha Tien and ready for the short bus trip to Kampot. The border crossing like most, took forever, six people on one bus, 2 hours! And wouldn't you guess, the heaven opened yet again just we we had to walk across the border, we got soaked. The puddles were deep in no time and the clay nice and slippery. The road from the border was mud for about 10kms before the tar, and I think we were both thinking what had we come to. But we are pleasantly surprised. Cambodia we were told was very dirty and quiet poor, but we have not seen any of that yet.
Our first stop was Kampot, a small sleepy town on a large river surrounded by mountains. We
managed to find a small Guesthouse there for $4.00 a night, and treated ourselves to a huge hamburger in town for $5.00 ( doesn't make sense really that a burger can cost more than a bed for the night). One lunchtime we asked the guy at the guesthouse if he could cook us some Cambodian rice, I don't think he realised that we could see him in the kitchen but, he was having a great old feed of our lunch. Dean did ask him whether the rice was good, but I think it was lost on him. Whilst there we hired another bike and spent the day exploring the coast west. We made it to Sihanoukville a town about 100 kms from Kampot. A lovely seaside resort town. The ride was lovely through the countryside, but at times a bit hairy with the passing traffic. We have decided to give the bikes a bit of a miss for a little while.
We have now moved back to Kep a lovely town right on the coast. There are some beautiful old French villas here along the front which were once owned by the elite, but now after the Khmer Rouge
stand empty. A very sad reminder of times passed.
We are staying at a place called Jasmine Valley Eco Resort which is about 3 kms from town right in the Jungle. There are Gibbons in the trees also Horn bills, although we haven't seen one as yet. The bungalows are all made from Mud and thatch, and there are a couple of Tree houses. All the power is Solar and at night the place comes alive with the noise of the forest. Last night we stayed in a small tree house, a bit of an experience. I heard something rooting through our bags in the night, probably good that we don't know what it was. Tonight we are in one of the bungalows. Not because of my fear of creepy things, but because the tree house was already booked. From here there is a Jungle track that takes you around the mountain and down to the beach, we did it yesterday, and the views are amazing. At the beach there is a place called the Crab Market, where they have restaurants. The local speciality is seafood cooked with the local pepper and it is fantastic. We had Squid and
Prawns. For someone who is not to fussed on seafood, I have eaten heaps and enjoyed it all.
From here we are off to Phnom Penh for a couple of days, to sort out our Laos visas before heading up to Siem Reap and the wonderful temples. So until next time the journey continues............
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