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Published: November 18th 2015
As today is our last day in Cambodia let's reflect a little on this wonderful country. We have had a great time, people have been incredibly friendly and we've had lots of smiling faces with children waving and saying hello. There's loads to see and do and the food has been mostly good too.
And all this in a country so corrupt that some of the people responsible for one of the worst genocides in history are still in government. A country still littered with landmines in places. A country where elections are so rigged that they engineered a power cut last time just before the results were announced...and suddenly then the ruling party had won again. A country where the opposition leader has to live in Korea as he will be arrested upon his return. He was due to return this week but was advised against it.
Claire read today that there had been an escalation of violence following his failed return. If he returns though there may be civil war. If there's civil war, the tourists don't come and tourism is the biggest industry in the country.
Apparently the ruling party have given citizenship to five
million Vietnamese who don't have to pay taxes here. Those five million wouldn't be allowed to get away with that under a 'fair' party so they vote for the current ruling party. How much more corrupt can you get than all this? Even the money from the Angkor temples is mostly unaccounted for.
There is real fear that civil war is coming but the ruling party has the military, the opposition has nothing. I really hope they can sort it all out and the poor people of Cambodia can get some fairness in their lives. And I hope they can do it without violence because it takes a long time for toursists to return after something like that and Cambodia needs tourists. But it also needs justice.
I hope I haven't put you off visiting. It's a wonderful country with wonderful people so do come along and help them out and see the wonderful sights. You won't be disappointed. Especially if you're into butterflies. At times it was like walking through a butterfly house apart from the fact that the butterflies can fly away even further! Damned things hardly ever sit still!
Kids high-fiving you with big
smiles as you cycle along was another highlight.
Quick return to the traffic. I mentioned previously that it's quite chaotic but it works. The only time it slows down is at major junctions where there are traffic lights. At smaller crossroads people just edge their way past each other and no-one gets annoyed and things keep moving. And the not getting annoyed is the best bit. As you drive along the highways you might hear horns going but it's only to let others know you're there so they can move over and let you pass. It's not done with anger, there's no road rage. It just works.
Anyway, back to today. After another splendid breakfast we headed towards the Thai border. We passed some Western cyclists...in our air conditioned van....but with the agony I suffer with my back, I'm so glad I'm not with them!
The other sad thing today, apart from having to leave Cambodia, was having to say goodbye to our guide, Nin. He has been fantastic and made sure we were happy and fitted as much into our itinerary as possible for us. Steven upset him the first day but he has carried on
in his own inimitable style and now even Steven is saying he is superb. He has been wonderfully enthusiastic, knowledgable and always keen to answer our questions. Highly recommended. Our driver Nan has done a cracking job too
The crossing into Thailand was easier than getting into Cambodia but, as usual, I chose the wrong window. Everyone else was processed in the time it took to stamp my passport but we all got in no problem. It felt weird being back in a country that drives on the correct side of the road as both Vietnam and Cambodia drive on the right.
Our new guide is called Jeff, our driver we don't know but the van is the most comfortable yet so we're happy. The drive to the pier was three hours with a stop off to change some money on the way and an all important snack stop. The urinals here were just a row out back with no walls behind....but I managed. The snacks were good and will do for lunch.
Today was supposed to be eight hours driving but ended up being considerably less than that. It did include a 45 minute ferry ride across to Koh Chang but it didn't turn out to be the arduous journey we'd anticipated. I suppose the eight hours included the border crossing and the short wait to drive onto the ferry. No complaints from us though. Especially as I managed to get a steamed rice bun on the ferry, something I ate a lot of last time I was here. It was only about 20p too.
And then we arrived at our resort hotel in Koh Chang and it is really rather splendid. Not built up so it lies beneath the lush, verdant hillsides and doesn't intrude too much like the huge, garish hotels at a lot of places. Claire was panicking about getting out and doing something but I managed to calm her down by taking up an offer of free kayaking.
So out to sea we went in our bright orange plastic kayak wearing bright orange lifejackets. The sun reflecting off the orange items and our white bodies must hav ebeen dazzling for the poor people on the beach! We didn't stay out for our full free hour and were soon swimming amongst the fish and crabs in the lovely warm water. You know you're in the right place when the sea temperature would be good enough for a bath.
We tried out our underwater camera some more so let's see what comes of that. After taking a few photos around the place we headed into the pool. The water was lovely and warm again and the bar stools were underwater so you order drinks whilst in the pool. The only disappointment was the coffee which actually tasted more like Bovril! Once we were suitably wrinkly we had a quick shower before all meeting up for our evening meal.
There didn't appear to be much choice for Claire at the hotel so we wandered up the road and found a small, friendly place which did her a pad thai which she thoroughly enjoyed. Lucky really as it was my suggestion. Phew! Food has been quite mellow in Vietnam and Cambodia but the heat factor shot up tonight but all six of us thoroughly enjoyed our meals. We even got to play Connect Four at the table which can't be bad.
We are surprised that prices are cheaper here. My meal tonight was less than £2 whereas in Vietnam and Cambodia it would have been double that. Strange as Thailand is a richer country and we are in a touristy area. Not complaining though!
Next stop was an ice cream parlour which had ice cream cake. It's cake made with ice cream. Genius! We have had to explain to our American companions why we have often bought ice cream here. They are from Phoenix and so are used to hot weather (but not the humidity) while we are from Stoke where the last day hot enough to eat ice cream without the central heating being on full blast in June was back in 1976. People still talk about it; I kid you not!
After a quick stop off at a 7 Eleven we went back to our room to finish writing our blogs. Our room has a few mozzies in unfortunately so I have done some spraying, am wearing a mozzy wristband and have a mosquito coil on the go. Maybe if I play my flute I can lead them (or drive them) away? Claire says she'd rather get bitten....
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