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Published: December 28th 2009
Drinking is bad for you
A message from the Australian Government for the Cambodian people
We checked out of the hotel just before midday and waited in the lobby for a cab to the airport, while we were there a grossly fat man came down with his Thai girlfriend, he was a disgusting disgrace who couldnt be bothered doing up his shirt which resulted in his fat belly hanging out. He was making the girl pour him scotches and rub his fat neck, it was offensive so we waited outside rather than look at him.
The ride to the airport took quite a while because the traffic is pretty bad especially along Sukhumvit Road, check in seemed to take a lot longer than normal mainly I think due to all Air Asia flights being processed at only a couple of counters. We then went and grabbed a bite to eat before Ruth went off to look at the shops while I waited by the departure gate. The flight to Phnom Penh took about 90 minutes.
I dont normally bother looking out the windows when I fly but this time I was thankful to have the opportunity to view the Tonle Sap a massive lake that covers some 8% of Cambodia's land mass as we
prepared to land, Cambodia is attractive from the air at least. Our arrival was chaotic just about every passenger needed a visa and I had left my passport photo's in my luggage so I had to pay a "fine" then when we got our visas we didnt have the correct change for the visa fee and they refused to give us change, the corrupt swines. Ruth had arranged for the hotel to pick us up which was totally brilliant because you dont have to fight your way through taxi touts.
Twenty minutes later we were at the Khmeroyal hotel, less cars on the road but many more taxis and the quality of the driving is poor and a little frightening. Our hotel is pleasant and we have a room with a fantastic view of the promenade along the Tonle Sap, soon after we wandered up to the roof top restaurant where we enjoyed traditional Khmer cuisine, Ruth enjoyed a rice dish served in a hollowed pineapple.
I awoke at about 5am to blaring music coming from the river, I rolled out of bed and looked out the window, there was a riverside aerobic or dance class taking place
on the promenade opposite our hotel, bloody hell it went on for hours, so much for a sleep in. It was then up onto the roof for the buffet breakfast mostly rice and noodles but the food was filling, we then headed out to see some of the cities sites, the first of which was the National Museum which was a short walk away. There was the usual throng of touts, tuk tuk drivers, disabled persons and kids selling a variety of items we didnt want, to negotiate before we entered the museum grounds.
The museum was ochre red building designed in traditional Khmer style and was built around a courtyard consisting of lush gardens, it was extremely hot inside with only a few fans to combat the oppressive heat. The exhibits were impressive consisting for the most part of stone carvings rescued from looters and the many archealogical sites scattered around the country as well as some prehistoric artifacts from earlier historic periods. We entered the courtyard looking for a shady place to rest and were entertained by a rat moving her young from place to place around the courtyard.
On leaving the museum I organised a
tuk tuk to take us away from the touts to Wat Phnom which sits on the cities only (small) hill and from where the city gets its name. The hill is surrounded by a park teeming with Long Tailed Macaques one of which was looking at itself in a shard of mirror which was very funny. We climbed the small stair case up the side of the hill to the Wat which wasnt anything special but there were interesting murals decorating the interior. From here we headed to Wat Ounalom which unfortunately was closed, before walking to the Royal Palace and then our hotel.
We checked out and also arranged transport and accomodation to Seam Reap before relaxing in the lobby over a couple of beers before the Free The Bears (FTB) people arrived to pick us up at 2pm. Jodie and Pete are an Australian couple that have been working with the bears for about two years and are nice people, we piled into their vehicle and after a brief stop at the supermarket we began the fifty kilometre drive south to the little village near the Phnom Tamao Animal Rescue Centre where we would spend the next
Jodie and Pete worked at Australia Zoo with Steve Irwin before moving to Kalamantan to work with the Orangutan for two years, we found them to be very interesting people to talk too. Eventually we arrived at the guesthouse where we would stay and it was a pleasant surprise as their were no other volunteers this week so we had the whole second floor to ourselves unfortunately there is no airconditioning and it is still damn hot.
Tonight is the cooks night off, unfortunately we had no means of heating up the little pizza's we bought in Phnom Penh so we ate them cold washed down with good local beer before watching a couple of DVD's before bed.
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