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Published: February 28th 2011
Finally made it to Koh Ker. Woohoo. Cost me $95 mind and I had to gate crash someone elses private tour but hey, I made it. Mska, the German I was traveling with was a very keen photographer (hmmmm, already you are seeing the miss-match) and eager to see sunrise at Koh Ker. So, 4.30 am was our start time, man it's worse than being at work with all the early rises out here (not really).
Alas, seems 4.30 was not early enough, and we caught sunrise along a very dusty and narrow road. Nothing worth stopping to snap and (as it turns out), Mska was not interested as he only snaps old rocks. Around 7 we pulled in for breakfast where poor old Mska nearly had an apoplexy when he heard me order noodle soup... wasn't I worried for my health (it wasn't the most upmarket of breakfast venues)? Well, I have a strong constitution (although I suspect that noodle soup may well have been my undoing) and I was jolly hungry so I slurped my noodle soup (After adding a little of every condiment at the table, it wasn't the best soup I've had) whilst my companion sipped
Can you see the exquisite detail? I hope so it's pretty amazing in the flesh.
A quick tour around the local market (And I mean very quick, did I mention Mska only likes old rocks?) but we did have time to debate trialing some Pong Tea Khong (egg where the foetus has been boiled alive at around 20 days, just long enough for it to get all feathery and beaky. Yum!). Now, I'll admit there was a point in my life where I would have liked to try this but not since I watched a documentary on Ian Wright (of Globetrotter fame, not the footballer). Poor man was forced to try one of these delicacies for the enjoyment of the viewer, took several takes (and several eggs) before he could swallow it without gagging, and when he did.... the producer decided they'd shot it from the wrong angle. Hahahaha, poor Ian. Put me off for life though, now why do I feel like I've let you down?
So, off to the temples. Bit of a let down at first, the temples were small and I could not shake our guide, add to that a fear of turning every corner in case I wander into a panoramic shot and you get a
very subdued Jen. However, at last (and it did seem to take an interminable length of time) we made it to Prasat Thom, the king of the Koh Ker complex and where I eventually managed to give our guide the slip and wander round alone. There was just me, myself and I. Oh.... and about five billion cicadas. The noise was deafening. I loved it.
Not sure it was worth $95 but you never know until you go. On the way home I asked the driver to stop so I could pick up some sticky rice, even managed to persuade Mska to try some (after assuring him it would be fine as it is steamed for hours) and he is now a convert. So Yay!
Had planned on heading out to a local spot for dinner, loads of barbecues (spit roast cow, frog, quail... you name it and it'll be there somewhere) and even a Ferris wheel or two. Alas, this mornings soup was to return with a vengence and instead I spent the rest of the day firmly locked in my hotel room. Next day was little better but I wanted to get some photo's uploaded and
The pyramid temple. Beautiful.
so in between bouts of stomach cramps I legged it to the nearest internet cafe, the young man running the place soon got to know me and eventually waved me to my seat advising I was mad and should instead be seeking out a pharmacy. He was probably right.
You would think, if the travel gods were being kind, that my trouble would be over before I made the 10 hour bus journey to Kratie (pronounced Kra Cheh), but no. Where would be the fun in that. So, I took a mini bus to the travel agent, a bus tot he bus station, and finally a gloriously air conditioned bus to Kampong Cham. This was mostly bearable and I popped loperamide and buscopan as necessary. The last 3 hours though were to be undertaken in that most torturous of vehicles... the mini bus. Aaaargh.
My heart sank as soon as I saw it and I strongly swithered over simply decamping in Kompong Cham but there was the ever present lure of the dolphins and so....
I and (after about 20 minutes of touring round) about 17 other people, one motorbike, and 12 sacks of banana like things,
all boarded a mini bus with seating for 9. Just the kind of ride you look forward to when feeling a trifle under the weather. NOT! Fortunately we dropped a few people off after 2 hours and things became a little easier.
Until we hit the dirt roads... oh my god! The dust that was raised from these things was unbelievable. Windows were closed to little more than slits but even so the dust billowed through, how the driver could see where he was going is beyond me (I could barely see the driver and I was sat just one row behind him). I would have taken photos except 1) I was feeling rubbish, 2) I was too tightly packed to reach my camera and 3) the dust would have killed it. So am afraid you'll just have to imagine.
Shortly after 5 we were offloaded at Kratie market, having no idea where I was (or how much of a state I was in) I picked up my bags and started walking. Couldn't understand the curious looks I was getting for Kratie is firmly on the tourist trail... until I got to my guest house. Or should I
My fave picture
of prasat Thom, even beats the pyramid shot... more evocative I think.
say was dragged to my guest house, was spotted by a tuk tuk driver who drove me to his hotel. I say hotel but really it is more of a warehouse. My heart sank when I got there but I was so exhausted I was prepared to stay anywhere. It was only when checking out the bathroom that I caught sight of myself in the mirror - and came face to face with the monster of the deep, caked from head to foot in smears of dirt and dust, no wonder I was drawing such stares lol.
Awoke next morning more refreshed and although the hotel is none too clean, no one speaks English, and I have had to cunningly drape a towel around the toilet cistern in order to eliminate it's shower like propensities - I do have hot water and a fabulous balcony over looking the river, so I think I'll stay.
This afternoon am off to try and catch a glimpse of the dolphins... wish me luck!
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