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Published: January 19th 2018
Day 8 Phnom Penh
Not the best hotel I have ever been in but we must acknowledge that we are in Cambodia and off the tourist track. The room Roger and I were given was on the front and extremely noisy with traffic, smelt of bad fish, loose wires everywhere and filthy with grit on the floor under the windows. There was also a void going down to ground floor level behind the wardrobe echoing noises from below. The windows were also absolutely filthy And I had to fix the toilet seat to stop it floating around. Dire. We asked to move and got a family room with two large double beds after much hard bargaining. The beds were very comfortable and slept well despite being woken at 2am with lorries passing by blowing their horns. Up at 6 again and off st 7.30 to get some distance in before it gets too hot.
Again Channi ignored the preplanned routes, at our acceptance, and after 28km we deviated onto red dirt roads for 39km. This was very pleasant if not challenging at times when we encountered soft sand. I am amazed at the children of all ages running to the
roadside shouting ’hello’ and waving at us. At one stop to regroup Tony toppled over on the restart and grazed his knee. After a bit of first aid by Channi we soon set off again. A side effect of he dirt roads is the dust, which blows up in clouds when traffic flies past. Luckily only the centre section was like washboard. I used my Vietnamese dust mask for the first time today and was thankful for it. At a rest stop we saw Tamarind being dried in the sun at the side of the road, which is a common sight in the far eastern countries. After rejoining the Highway 5 we stopped for a break and snacks provided by our guides, fresh fruit such as mango, jack fruit, tiger fruit and all manner of tasty rice, banana and tapioca savouries. Further down the road one rider stopped for a rest and a drink. We heard a lot of men shouting and upon investigation saw that they were watching Cock Fighting on the television and gambling on the outcome. I thought that was banned with slavery. The worst was yet to come when Chris and myself plus Haeng were taking
up the rear down the wide strip alongside the dual carriageway. Even though they drive on the right in Vietnam some people insist in going along the wrong way on bikes, motorbikes and even cars. On this occasion a lady with passenger was coming towards us on a motorbike at about 30kph, we were traveling at 28kph and Chris not seeing her hit her head on and somersaulted over her and the three of them landed under the two bikes. Not to be outdone Haeng ran into the crash himself and was catapulted into the air with his bike flying clear. The passenger was blind and was traumatised and the rider was making a lot of complaining noises in some foreign language which we could not understand. Chris had a bruised and battered shin with a cut and a small cut on his forearm. Haeng hurt his elbow, but nothing was broken luckily.
During our journey south to Phnom Penh we called at a small workshop making very intricate wooden carvings and cast items from silver. The things were hand made by people with disabilities some of whom had contracted poliomyelitis in their infancy. Luckily this disease is almost wiped
out forever, mainly due to hr efforts of Rotary since 1985. Last year there were less Han 20 cases, I believe in Nigeria and Afghanistan. We must keep up the pressure. This workshop was set up just to give these people meaningful work. Great stuff.
As we got closer to Phnom Penh the traffic got busier and we were met by loads of tipper lorries heading north full of people stood up in the back, maybe 40 or more. There are also the scooter pulled remorques carrying snot 29 people sat on planks across a trailer body. How these scooters do it I will never know? The Cambodians are very poor and very resourceful.
We eventuallyfought our way through town with a bit of cut and thrust. In my element keeping the group together from the back.
The Cardamom Hotel us very nice. Here for two nights. We had a meal out overlooking the Tonle Sap river, plenty of beer to quench our thirst and Duck Noodles - very nice. I hope I am not speaking too soon but no bites so far, my spray must be working.
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