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Published: December 15th 2007
So where were we........
We decided the best way to cross the Cambodian border was as part of an organised trip, half by boat half by bus. This meant a hassle free crossing and a bit of fun along the way.
The trip included a tour round some local "factories" where we saw them make coconut sweets, rice paper and rice crispies, the best part was getting to try everything - really tasty stuff. They also make rice wine at the same 'factory' and we of course sampled this too - not so nice. Paul and I also got to try a different type of rice wine that was apparently 'for men only'. Dead snakes were coiled in the jar but by the time we'd seen the dead bird floating in the top the shot was long gone!
We stayed in a pretty shabby hotel in the border town of Chau Doc where Paul was disappointed to find out that the morning glory he ordered for dinner was just water spinach!
We arrived in Cambodia the following evening and while Emily and Ruth supped pina coladas and bag-sat, Paul and I looked for rooms. Paul assures us that the strip
club he tried did have rooms but that the sheets looked a bit ruffled! We eventually found somewhere near the river, dumped bags and went for a "do you want that happy?" pizza!
We did the usual tourist sights during our first couple of days - the Russian market, the extravagant Royal Palace, the Killing Fields and the Genocide Museum (S21) - S21 used to be a school but was turned into a prison during the time of the Khymer Rouge, roughly 17000 people were imprisoned there with just 12 known survivors.
After a couple of days we took a bus to Siem Reap, the base for visiting Angkor, stopping on the way to fill up on food and drink, surprisingly we didn't buy any of the fried crickets or tarantulas we saw on sale!
Our ticket for Angkor enabled us to go for sunset the evening of our arrival and for a full day the following day, including sunrise. It was amazing and we loved it... hopefully the pictures do it a little bit of justice.
Our next stop was Sihanoukville, a small beach resort on the south east coast. The beach was rammed with bars and restaurants
and from the hundreds of hawkers on the beach, we splashed out on a pedicure!
Our last night in Cambodia was spent in a $3 room in Stung Treng before crossing the border into Laos the next day. Here we met Scott (American), Sarah (German), Jan (Dutch)and Tim (Australian) who we spend the next couple of days with. The border crossing was a bit of a grey area, they charge you to stamp your passport according to the mood they're in! We got away relatively easily, paying $2 on the Cambodian side and $1 on the Laos side (Tim and Jan got charged less than us...). Once past the Laos border we decided to walk down the wreck of a road to meet our bus. After about 1km we gave up and Scott, his guitar and a funny improvised song about where we were helped pass the time until we got picked up.
Eventually we got to our first stop in Laos - Don Det, one of the '4000 Islands' on this stretch of the Mekong - where we had our own hammocks right over the water on the sunset side of the island. It was a real chill
out place, with electricity for just 4 hours each evening. We spent most of our time with the others - cycling to the waterfalls, drinking beer while watching fab sunsets from the bar and one evening from a boat.
The main thing we wanted to do in Laos was the Gibbon Experience - a wedding present from Julia (bridesmaid), Reuben and Rich. When we contacted them from Don Det we found out that they were booked out weeks in advance but there was a chance that there was a cancellation spot we could take, so we raced up through Laos, stopping in the capital Vientiane for a couple of days, only to discover that someone else had nabbed it. Gutted, this was where we left Laos, missing out the north so that we could do it when we return one day to do the Gibbon Experience!!
Take care all,
PS don't forget to look at page 2 of the pictures
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