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July 12th 2012
Published: July 12th 2012
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Bamboo trainBamboo trainBamboo train

Very scary bamboo train, reaching speeds of about 30 kmph on old tracks, the train itself is not actually attached to the axles, but only rest in slots. When two meet the lighter load disassembles and moves off the single track to let the other pass
So what to do with a month of travelling solo? I was torn. Go back to malaysia for some good food and non-western experience (too far), fly to japan to meet up with another friend (too expensive), work in vang vieng with jepps (too much cheap alcohol), extend my thai visa (too long an extension). I went back to my favourite country in asia, cambodia.

The first time around we went through quite quickly and only did 3 places due to time constraints. This time I had 3 weeks to visit the other sites and chill out a little bit.

First was Siem Riep, where I met 3 English boys for a few days of exploring and drinking.

Second was a place we missed the first time, Battenbang. A long 6 hour slow boat up the river gave amazing views of how the cambodians lived on floating houses, fishing and farming in the flood plains, gave us amazing views of the countryside and gave us some wildlife, kingfishers, herons, and buzzards. We also went through the massive lake that seems to fill up half of cambodia (tonle sap), and is where 80% of the fish of cambodia are
Bat CaveBat CaveBat Cave

Millions of bats fly out of this cave at dusk to hunt in the rice paddies overnight. The noise and amount of bat poo if you stand under the swarm is staggering
caught. This lake is amazing, in the rainy season the direction of the river changes, so water flows back into the lake. This leads to a dramatic difference in the size, from 1m deep and 2,700 square km in dry season to 9m deep and area 16,000 square km. Battenbang itself was of little note, barring a good day trip to the surrounding countryside. This included a bamboo train, a bat cave where millions (no exaggeration, our guide said 1 billion, exaggeration) of bats fly out at dusk, and the killing caves of the polpot regime.

Third was down to Sinoukville, one of my favourite places of the trip. An amazing beach during the day and a vibrant extremely cheap night out by the beach by night. By this time my travel companions had expanded to 8 (plus 5 more to join) so some good times were had by all. On this visit to Sinoukville we went to the island called Ko Rong, a place with no internet and basic wooden shacks, and an incredible beach backed immediately to jungle. Days were spent playing beach volleyball, jungle treking, reading, and chilling in the lucid blue waters. This, like Halong
Ko RongKo RongKo Rong

Stunning island off Sinoukville
bay, was a spot where luminous plankton emerges at night, so a night time swim or two was always in order. We went back to the mainland for 2 nights, planning to explore further along the coast to Kep and Campot. However, we met some people who were going back to the island, so me and John joined them for 3 more days of really chilled island time!

Then it was the start of my 3 day epic journey up to Chang Mai, north thailand. One night spent in Phomm Penn allowed me to catch up with a few friends from the first island trip, before I got my flight back to Bangkok. Then a 20 hour overnight train to Chang Mai!

Additional photos below
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Messing about with Machettes in Ko Rong jungle. We took a one day trek to the beach on the far side of the island, which somehow was even better than the one we stayed on. Just sea, beach and jungle

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