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Published: April 28th 2006
so we were out of the smoke and into the fire. the overland journey from the cambodian border to siem reap is legendary amongst the traveler community. everyone you speak to that has had the pleasure of the 7, or 8, or 9, or 10 hour journey will have a different tail of breakdowns, floods, dodgy roadside cafes, and their time spent in a vehicle that would struggle to drive to the mot centre, let alone pass one! our particular journey had the inevitable breakdown where the driver pretends there is a major problem with the bus (in our case the steering) and proceeds to get out and fix then unfix the problem as many times as possible. the deal is this; when you get on the bus at 4.30pm you are told that it will take 5 hours. allowing for an over-run of 1-2 hours, we guessed we would probably arrive around 10. we arrived at 12.30 where the kind man who was traveling in the bus with us had a guest house "right in the centre of town". after deciding whether to take up his offer or not it soon became clear once we got out of the bus
bob the bodger
our driver pretends to fix our bus
that we were in the butt-end of nowhere. we decided to fall for the blag and put up with one night and move the next day.
the only productive thing we managed to do the following day was get a moto into the real "centre of town" and find ourselves a cheap guest house. we went in search of food and were rewarded with some vegetable rice. looking around the town it was apparent that cambodia is a much poorer country than thailand. kids everywhere begging or selling postcards and fake lonely planet guide books on the streets, people with dismembered limbs asking for money, old women begging in front of restaurants for people's left overs, children carrying their baby brother or sister slung across their backs in a bid to win the sympathy vote. it really is a massive culture shock in comparison to all the places we visited in thailand. once we arrived back at the guest house it was apparent that we had made a bit of a mistake when agreeing to stay there as when lucy re-entered the room a lot more awake than the first time she asked "what state was i in earlier
our first moto ride
not for the faint hearted!
to agree to sleep here!?". admittedly it was a bit wrank so we went out that evening to have a few beers and hope the alcohol would ease us both to sleep!
we awoke the next day with the excitement of checking into a new guest house. after this was done we bartered with a moto driver to take us around the temples of angkor wat for three days and headed off to watch the sunset. after looking around angkor wat for an hour we were taken to Phnom Bakheng where we had to clime up the hill, not a good idea in flip-flops, as dave quickly turned his into flip flaps after breaking one, and lucy's sweaty feet turned hers into slip flops, and we gave plenty of people a good laugh for the duration of the assent. we were shown a mediocre sun set and began the decent of which made getting up the damn thing feel like we had been given a ride on a stanna stair lift. the next two days were spent in the consuming heat of the cambodian sun, which seems a lot hotter than thailand, i think because of our distance to
the coast. it was really fascinating to view all the different temple structures of differing quality and ruin, but after three full days we both swore we never wanted to see another damn temple again! the highlight of the three days was getting up at four in the morning (yes both sets of parents, four in the MORNING) to watch the sunset over ankgor wat. it was a spectacular sight and was almost over shadowed by the ability of the japanese tourists camped all around us to provide constant entertainment with their snap-happy, stiff military poses.
we were all set to move on the next day when it became apparent that some thieving scumbag decided to rifle through lucy's back pack and steal some money. what made the situation worse was that she thought money was missing the day before but put it down to her own negligence as we had spent a lot touring the temples. turns out whoever done it got greedy and came back for seconds. the reason we realised straight away was they left the light on, and knowing how many times ive been told to "turn the light off for god's sake!" this was
one error that wasn't going to go un-noticed. so instead of heading to the bus stop we went to the tourist police, where lucy made an angry statement to a slightly bemused female officer and we were told to stay another night while they "make some investigations". most of the money was recovered, not from the thief but from the hotel owner for our 'inconvenience'. we will never find out the truth, but its good to know that we learnt a cheap lesson, lock up everything and the smiles were definitely fake!
out of every bad situation, it seems comes some good. we checked into the ivy 2 guest house where four days later we were still enjoying the friendly ambience and service. sometimes you fall on your feet when traveling and we have met some really nice people. we decided to stay one extra night as we were promised the closest thing to the holy grail; free beer at a party the next night! with our spare day we decided to hire some push bikes and went to visit the landmine museum. it was incredible to see the distruction that the landmines had caused all over cambodia, wreaking
lives and killing whole families. the museum was set up to provide people with knowledge about the dangers and devistation that these unexploded munitians have caused the people of cambodia, and acts as a school for injured and deprived children, most of which have been fostered by the owner. they are continuing the clean-up of mines across cambodia and are doing so unprotected, living mainly off donations from organisations and individuals who visit. it is good to see that work is being done to both educate visitors at the museum, and people in rural areas of the country as to the dangers of landmines (most accidents happen through curiosity). the work being done here is incredibly important and with some areas averaging five mines per sqaure meter, their work is far from done.
later that evening they really came up trumps, the birthday party was held for a worker from belgium and they laid on a bbq that, once you purchased a couple of chicken skewers there was a constant flow of free angkor lager. naturally, we over indulged! its two days on and we have promised ourselves that we are going to move on tomorrow, but who knows.....
if theres free beer again?!...
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