Monday 22nd Bangkok to Phnom Penh
Up to another fine sunny day. We packed and then enjoyed a lovely breakfast at our accommodation of toast, cheese and croissants with the best coffee since our journey started. The croissants were superb - no wonder that so many French seem to stay at this hostel. We endured a 10 minute slog in the stupefying heat to the bus stop for the Airport Express . At the airport we were pleasantly surprised to discover that the 700 baht departure tax no longer seems to apply and must have been included in our air fare. The flight with Air Asia was not full so we were able to find good seats. We left on time and arrived 15 minutes early. The landscape viewed from the plane changes dramatically as you cross from Thailand to Cambodia. The our tarmac roads and busy landscape is replaced by isolated villages connected by dirt roads. The journey was a short hop of about one hour. The immigration formalities completed we headed for the exit to be met by our pre-arranged transfer into Phnom Penh town. We were delighted to discover it was by 'remorque-moto' which is a trailer hitched to a motorbike. We had a fantastic drive into town, entranced by the atmosphere created by the busy moped mobbed streets. It reminded us of Hanoi many years ago. Our driver weaved in and out - passing at one stage a remorque-moto full of monks.Many of the moped riders look like school children. In fact at one point we came upon a minor accident where a girl was collecting up her schoolbooks from the ground. We arrived at our hostel 'Sunday Guesthouse'. Our room appears a bit strange from the outside. The door is metal and its only external means of locking from the outside is a padlock, but it is comfortable and simple inside. We even have the luxury of a TV with CNN and National Geographic. For ease we had a simple veg and noodle dish at the lodgings and then went for a brief explore of the surrounding streets. The side streets have no lighting and are a bit scary but once we reached the main streets they were quite vibrant. Traffic seems to come from all angles as you cross the street. One busy junction had a small child begging. We stopped for a beer at a local café where nearly all the locals were indulging in a ''soup chnnang di" (cook your own soup). A simmering pot heated by a gas heater is placed in the centre of the table and they take turns adding assorted ingredients to the pot which the waitress intermittently tops up with stock from a teapot. It is a pleasingly communal way of eating - washed down with ice cooled beer. Back at our lodgings we got talking to a young Swedish couple and enjoyed further beers - trying the local Angkor Stout and Beer Lao.