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Camboooodia (so far)

Siem Reap, Sihanoukville, Phnom Penh, Siem Reap (again)

sunny 35 °C

Ok we had our lovely 36 hour journey including the border crossing (Aranya Prathet to Poipet) in which we were approached and taken to the "Cambodian Consulate' which it really was not, to get our visas. After much scam tactics we ignored everyone and made our way to the real borer and got our visas. We reluctantly gave an extra 100 Bhat to the police guy at the counter for a quick processing fee. Kit quickly got annoyed at this and told him he wanted it back. The police guy laughed and handed it back over (power to the people :-) )

From there we took a 2 hour taxi ride to Siem Reap. The taxi ride seemed to take FOREVER. We had travelled for 34 hours and the taxi driver was mental. The roads here are right hand drive (opposite to UK) However our driver had a Thai car, which was also right hand drive, Which meant he couldn't really see the road very well so he generally overtook when he thought it was ok, even when he wasn't really sure. Hoff had to tell him to stop and pull back in a few times, with a few near misses with oncoming traffic.... not the best ride!
Siem Reap was cool. Siem Reap means ''Siamese defeated', hardly the most tactful name for a major city near Thailand! It was discovered by the french in the 19th century so the city is a mixture of French and Khmer infused architecture. We liked the vibe here. The population around 120,000 so not that much for a city. The bars are plenty-full but not overrun, the guesthouses are cheap but pleasant and the restaurants are awesome! It was also the place were Kit and Hoff could sink a few 50c beers, 26p! (which was a bonus)

After spending a night in a bed (rather than a bus train etc) we hired a tuk tuk for the day and saw some of the local sites. We intended to go to the floating village (although we found out once we arrived it was a rip off to see it) so we spent a few hours walking along the lakeside through a Cambodian village. An eye opener. The village was VERY poor, but it seemed they had everything they needed. A floating church, shops and even an a few pool tables in one of the huts! Most huts consisted of a three walled exterior on stilts. The fourth wall was non existent so when you walked past you really saw right into peoples homes (which is just one tiny room) Everything was very communal here. The electricity supply was near non existent (they even had a hut to recharge batteries which was full) and they had a TV room with plastic chairs for anyone who wanted to watch TV! We had a scoot up a temple (Although didn't have enough energy to walk the full distance) bypassed the crocodile factory (turns poor crocks into handbags) then booked the night bus for that evening to Sihanoukville.

Yes another night bus, but that was definitely the last one..ever..it was rather luxury, actual beds and actual blankets but they were designed for the, how can I put it..Cambodian midgets rather than actual human beings (Anne marie was fine)..so cramp was on the cards for the whole Journey. We arrived in Sihanouksville early morning, greeted by a bombardment of tuk tuk drivers jostling for position. As per usual we ignored them all grabbed a coffee then headed to the main road to pick one up. We took the advise of our 5 year old guide book and headed to the (once deserted, 5 years ago) Serendipity beach. Unfortunately this is now not deserted and has fallen to mass tourism of the package variety, hotels everywhere, and we mean everywhere, kinda Costa Del Sol but dirtier!..To be quite frank we were bitterly disappointed..we sat gathered our thoughts and were approached by a weary tuk tuk driver who told us of a nearby beach which was very quiet with beach huts 200m from the sea!..we decided to go with it and off we went to Otres beach. Otres beach should have fallen to the tourism a few years ago but due to financial collapse the developers couldn't continue and the small cluster of beach huts and restaurants still remain.

Otres beach is stunning, finally we witnessed some emerald sea and white sand (which we thought were a myth up until now). We opted for a cheap beach shack above a restaurant at 5 US dollars a night. As the places on Otres beach are so remote there is no electricity so a generator provides the power for the whole place. This seems like paradise but when your fan turns off at 10pm in 30 degree nighttime heat it gets pretty sticky, but we soon acclimatised!..Hoff opted for the cheaper 2 dollar bedroom, this was a cosy mosquito net and sun lounger on the next door restaurants beach, a cooler alternative with natural aircon and all thje mod cons!! 9well bitten feet anyway and the company of stray dogs). Finally we had found a break from the tourism and so began our morning ritual of the beach running dodging waves and trees and the occasional land mine (not really but we will explain later). We chilled for a couple of days and soaked up the scenery. On the second night was a beach party over on the neighboring Island of bamboo. It was a choppy 1 hour boat journey in the dark with western company. We arrived to a huge sound system (that didn't work properly, maybe that damn generator again) and strange green Cambodian whiskey drinks. These would prove to be the downfall of all of us with Kit sleeping starboard on the return journey and Anne-Marie catching a few zzz's earlier on on the beach (light weights).

The best and most memorable part of the evening was the sparkly plankton. Now I have never seen or heard this before but you have to see it to believe it! This plankton (which is in both Cambodia and Thailand is invisible to the eye) However when it is moved and the oxygen mixes with it it glows like a shiny glitter in the sea. In the dark it makes the whole area around you glow up. Its crazy! We spent quite a bit of time on the shoreline marveling at this (we hope to see it again in south Thailand)

The following day was spent saying not very much and doing even less... Hangover city! The whole day gone in a flash. The next few days however we filled with moped excursions around the area (a very interesting meeting with a family of monkeys who played with and sat on the scooters checking themselves out in the mirror) and one one day we payed for a hire boat to take us snorkeling. We spent the whole day travelling round three islands (including Bamboo island) Snorkeling was fun. We were told we had to stay clear of the sea urchins. Now if anyone has ever seen these blighters they are ugly buggers. They look like black balls with two little eyes and long black spikes protruding from all around its spherical body. You touch one with your foot and the hooks (very similar to a fishing hook) stick under your skin. you have to wait an hour or so for the hook to release itself naturally, take it out yourself and you take off a good proportion of your skin! These little dudes were everywhere. But we were careful and managed to spend a few hours looking at the coral, fish and the underwater wildlife which was awesome!

We spent 4 nights here and we felt super rested and wanted some action so made our way to Phnom Penh. Not the best city at all (super busy with lots of noise and traffic) but it is the place of the famous S21 and the killing fields which we really wanted to check out.

In Phnom Penh one of the largest secondary schools under the rule of Khmer Rouge was turned into a torture camp and prison called S21. All members of the previous regime, lawyers, teachers, doctors, educated people and even people just for wearing spectacles were brought toured round most of the rooms of the buildings within the grounds. We started in the part of the building where the prisoners where routinely interrogated. Inside on the walls were some photo's that the Khmer Rouge had taken depicting the most brutal scenes. In some rooms there is still blood splattered on the ceilings. The next few rooms were set like a gallery with 1000's of photographs that were found of the actual prisoners who had been interred at the S21 camp. The next 2 building's were where the prisoners were imprisoned in cells no bigger than 5 feet by 7 feet and permanently manacled to the floor. There are also rooms of photographs of people who worked for Khmer Rouge in S21 along with their present day feelings in which you got some insight into the fear of the people - Kill or be killed. We spent around 4 hours here feeling hopeless, distraught, depressed, astonished and deeply shocked at this treatment of humanity only 30 years ago

Next we went to Cheong Ek, the major Killing field of Phnom Penh. Just beyond the entrance is a huge stupa where thousands of the skulls that have been unearthed have been kept in order of age. Beyond, you were free to walk around, and as we walked between different, separate ditches, where people were executed, you could still see remains of bone, teeth, and clothing poking out from below the earth.It was horrifying to walk around these mass graves, knowing from our previous visit at the S21 museum, what exactly went on here and how exactly they were killed.

We did spend the evenings trying to get around but to be honest its a bit of a bitch to get around without getting run over! The next day we made our way back to Siem Reap (we plan to go North East of Cambodia and Hoff returns to Bangkok for his flight home)

These last three weeks have gone so fast! It has been lovely having Hoff around but flash and hes gone again! We are currently back in Siem Reap touring around (that's for the next blog as its about 50 degrees in this IT room and we are both needing a break) so we will love you and leave you!

Miss you all at home....very much so! We are hoping that you still read this and actually care where we are etc... :-)

Speak to you all soon xxxx

Posted by Kitanddup 22:54 Archived in Cambodia Tagged reap siem sihanoukville phnom penh (again)

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I am looking for a good hotel in Siem Reap.

Any here: http://siemreap.info/hotels-in-siem-reap/ that you can recommend?

Thanks

by john

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