From cold coffee, through Tonle Sap to coconut gelato with a side order of temples.


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Asia » Cambodia » North » Tonlé Sap
November 14th 2015
Published: November 14th 2015
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The day began with the worst breakfast so far. The only thing that was hot was the tea as even the coffee was stone cold. As well as the stir fry and slices of cooked eggy type things. Ah well, you can't expect the best every day. The praying mantis on the back of a dining chair was the highlight of breakfat and no I didn't try to eat it.

The cockroaches in the bathroom hadn't bothered me in the night but whatever was making the chirrupping noise last night was still at it this morning. Somehow I'd slept right through so that was good.


And then off to the jungle we went. Everyone was very keen on mine and Andy's rendition of the 80's classic Tight Fit hit The Lion Sleeps Tonight and kept shouting for more. At least that was my interpretation anyway.

The jungle was surrounding the temple complex Sambor Prei Kuk which contains about 100 temples many of which are inaccessible. Fortunately there are plenty you can see although many are held up by the huge trees that have engulfed them. As the temples have been there since the seventh century, they're doing a pretty good job. The jungle isn't what it used to be though as much of the trees were chopped down to be sold. Cambodia used to be 75% covered in trees but that is now down to just 10%.

Talking about the past, our guide used to turn up at the complex with tourists and the locals were there armed with guns and rocket launchers. He says he used to beg them not to shoot his bus. Today we were joined by a one-armed former Khmer Rouge soldier who had defected to the government and lost his arm in battle somewhere along the way.

The temples were obvously the models for the gherkin building in London. Not as high though but much more interesting and photogenic particularly when engulfed by intertwining vines. Well worth a visit.

A quick visit to a fish market was next as our guide had been asked to pick up some dried sausages by his son. All the fish and meat were drying out in the sun and were covered in flies so not very appealing to be honest.

En route to Siem Reap we stopped at Spean Praptos to see the Kampong Kdei Bridge, once the longest corbelled stone arch bridge in the world. Quite an honour I'm sure you'll agree. If I had internet as I'm writing this I'd serve you up the current top 10 and maybe see where this bridge lies in the rankings now as I'm sure you're dying to find out. Might be easier if you google it yourselves and then use the comments below to help everyone else. I'm sure they're dying to know.

Anyway, the bridge was built in the 12th century and is the first bridge and entry into the Angkor complex. It is still used today and is decorated each side with ornate stone snake heads. Well worth a quick stop off.

Today is Saturday but kids are still in school but, as they only appear to go to school for a few hours a day, spreading them over more than five days is probably okay. They all look very smart as they leave school in their white shirts which does contrast somewhat with the quite poor conditions around. It's good to see that they're all getting an education though as education is compulsory so they have more of a chance in life.

Next stop was a fishing village predominantly inhabited by Vietnamese people. It is part floating village and part stilted. People here appear somewhat poorer than elsewhere but they go about their lives with endeavour and often with a smile.

We took a boat trip on lake Tonle Sap which is the largest freshwater lake in South East Asia. We traversed amongst ramshackle homes, fishing boats and people working amongst the water and mud. Hopefully I got some cracking photos that I can sell for loads of money....or at least get placed in the monthly competition at our camera club... After a quick stop off back on dry land to take some pictures of life in the village we headed to our hotel in Siem Reap.

And boy what a hotel! Okay we're stuck with tourists who seem to like hogging all the sunbeds by the pool and probably had their towels out since last night. But the hotel is pretty awesome, the pool is lovely and the food is good and not too expensive too. The rooms are right posh and I feel a bit out of place....but I'll put up with it....just this once....

The evening ended with a walk along the high street in search of ice cream, well gelato anyway....and we found some! Coconut gelato and a double espresso was followed by the best carrot cake I've ever had. Glorious. After a quick stop off at a kwik-e-mart (well kinda) it was time to return to our plush hotel to finish off our blogs.

Funny how that has become part of our routine now. I used to read but now I write. We're doing so much here though that we have to write during the day or we'll have forgotten it all by the time we get back to our hotel at night!

One last thing before I go....the currency here is the riel but prices everywhere are predominantly in American dollars and you could get by in just those. However, when you get change which equates to less than a dollar, they give it to you in riels. Bizarre! Can you imagine doing that in England?! Nope nor me. Anyway, we're off on a 30km bike ride tomorrow (just to kick the day off) so we'd better get things uploaded and get some kip. Nighty night.

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