Archive for August, 2011
Journey down poured with rain all the way here also had a spectacular light show because we had thunder and lightening.
At the airport pretty small but hassle free to get through passport control. Then onto Bangkok for a few hours then onto home.
Spent the day by the pool relaxing, reading and listening music on my recovered phone. We have to pack up in anticipation of not getting a late checkout. Hopefully we will which means we can get a few hours by the pool before pick up at 1.30 pm.
This likely to be the last post unless we get time and wifi at one of the airports. If it is we hope you have enjoyed the blog and that it has kept you informed, entertained and been thought provoking at times. We look forward to getting home and catching up with everyone and boring you silly with even more photos.
All the very best from David, Adam and Scott, see you soon.
Happy Birthday to Tracey.
We leave the 4 Rivers at 8 am. In reality wish we had a 12pm checkout and 4 more hours here than the beach where we have three days anyway. The intimate atmosphere, Francois and his staff made the couple of days most enjoyable. If you ever come to Cambodia, put it on your must see list and bring someone to share it with. We join another family for the boat trip back and pick up our guide and driver at the 4th bridge. Joy of joys I am re united with my iphone. The road trip takes about 4 hours. 4 years ago the road was not asphalt and the bridges were ferries making this an 8 – 9 hour journey. Again the journey passes through many villages some specialising only selling things like petrol. Different bottles(coke etc) give different volumes 1 ltr 2 ltr up to large jerry cans. The usual odd and oversize loads never cease to amaze and amuse.
Eventually the sea comes into view and we arrive at the hotel. Very nice, we dump our gear and hit the pool, ahhhhh! In the evening we take stroll along to the restaurant The Lemongrass which is about two hundred yards along the coast. It is fantastic inside and I’m” holy moly this looks pricey”. Its not, fresh fish, Khmer, Western and Japanese on the menu. I have the special which is fresh, and I mean fresh, grouper. Adam plumps for the ribs and Scott duck, I think they’re a bit rice and noodled out to be fair. Waves lapping on the shore overlooking the sea and 2 for 1 cocktails, you can’t go wrong.
Today has been late breakfast, sitting by the pool catching some sun and generally kicking back. I hope this will be the pattern of the next day or so. The blog will therefore take on a bit of a “samey” tone if we decide to post at all. We will update before we leave but thats all for today. Lemongrass later.
ATB D A & S
We take a short chug back down the river, jump in the Kayak’s and paddle up a small tributary to a small falls and a plantation. The owner tells us he surprised a large snake in the sugar cane and the machete won the day, fortunate as it was poisonous, and he shows us a clutch of eggs the snake was incubating. We walk further in and I’m surprised by a small snake that shoots between my legs. Actually I am just imagining it after the snake story. Up the hill you can see the whole plantation, an are the owner cleared from the jungle. He groes cane, pineapples, rice and hads a few water buffalo. Back down and s**t there’s that bloody snake again (it is real not my mind playing tricks) and it is fast unnervingly so when Channy points out it too is poisonous.
We head back to the village for a swim in the river and bit of fishing. We get chatting over dinner with some newly weds from Cornwall and we sit around chatting and showing them pictures of the Bamboo railway. Channy wants the photos from today so we all sit around drinking copying the files and checking out Channys wedding photos. We board a boat for a short hop along the river to see a tree full of fireflies. It is magical they really are bright and the tree really does look like christmas tree.
So to bed for and 8 am checkout
PS I hope you’re impressed by our command of the technology, and the slide shows.
ATB A D & S
The journey was not the most inspiring but was punctuated by the humorous loads people manage to carry on virtually every vehicle. The scenery remains pretty spectacular along the way and we even manage to pass the prison where the Khmer Rouge (Pol Pot) high ranking officers are held.
We cross the four bridges of the four rivers which give our next location its name. We collect our boat and take a leisurely chug down the river. The resort comes into view as we come around a bend and it looks fantastic. We are greeted by Francois (French Canadian it turns out)who runs the place, lovely chap with great English and sense of humour . I really expected the resort to be just like the brochure, location, relaxed and something special. We were not disappointed, the boys thought it was awesome and it is. Only twelve rooms, we have 2, and it is full but probably no more than 18 people here and 6 are from one family. Spent the afternoon kayaking, bit of fishing then a few sherberts with dinner whilst we update the blog.
later we visited the nation museum which contained many artifacts from the Angkor period. many artifacts had got damaged or stolen at the time of the Khmer rouge but still very impressive the ones we saw. many of the artifacts had been taken from places we had already been to prevent looting and damage.
we went to the mound which is the centre of phnom penh city. which is only a minutes walk from our hotel.
we went to the Friends restaurant run by a group that supported a school for orphans and street children. inside teachers train children to run the restaurant . the food was excellent I thought so did Scott, Adam spent most of the time checking out the toilet facilities.
after lunch we then went to s21 which is now the genocide museum the prison used to be a high school. its kept pretty much as it was in pol pot’s rule. of the fourteen thousand people who passed through the prison only seven survived of those only 3 are alive and one was there today.
we then proceeded to the central market and had a look around.
back to the hotel for an early blog, iron and packing to follow. on to koh kong tomorrow to the four rivers floating lodge which we are all looking forward to. don’t know what the connection will be like because it’s in the middle of the jungle so may be a few days before and update.
Any way we stop at a house to see a woman making pots(picture). The first house we stop at no one is working but they have a potter’s wheel and a kiln. This woman has no wheel so walks in circles around the static pot. A very slow process but as the picture shows she loved us being there and was very enthusiastic to show us the whole process. Once compled they are dried in the sun. The large pots she made about a foot across with a lid sold for about 25c US. Scott was the handsome son today with proposition scores currently at Adam 2, Scott 3 and me 0 I’m not sure I can take the rejection.
Onto a temple, the main Buddhist temple in the area. We are inundated with hawkers and children as we get out of the bus. I digress but incidentally the van is owned by the orphanage we went to see the show and eat at yesterday, when not in use they hire it out to get extra income. As a brand new transit minibus it is THE VIP vehicle to have and the poor disillusioned locals think we are loaded, how wrong they are. We make our way up the mount which is 580 odd steps followed by an entourage of youngsters (picture)keen to practice their English and point out everything our guide has just done. At the top the temple contains over 4000 Buddha statues. Anyway they are great fun and chat enthusiastically to the boys all the way up and down. We by a pack of local currency from one of the hawkers and hand it out to them all. In reality some got none, lesson is you can help, just not everybody.
We had lunch and the boys could not face yet another set menu. So fillet steak and chips it was at a staggering $2 each I KNOW, so no dessert. Phnom Penh is the modern bustling city you expect and the Hotel is very good, our rooms overlook the American Embassy complex. Just had dinner and although a buffet the chefs cook much of the food to order. The boys are over the moon the food is no doubt the best so far (picture). Off to bed for tour of the city and sights.
ATB D A & S
Onto another temple, Banan. This one is at the top of 380 odd steps by now it was monsoon, joy. The offer of a few small umbrellas went rejected when I procurred a bar size umbrella from one of the hawkers. Large yes, dry definately. Bemused (soaking)passers by were ammused but maybe a little put out they didn’t think of it, $2 well spent. Into town for the market all the produce was extremely fresh given the fish were being beheaded at the road side, wasn’t quite as traumatic for the fruit.
Tonight we visited a playhouse and circus. There was a band who were really good, even more so when we found out the only got together as a band 3 days ago. Then there were accrobats, juugglers and tightrope walkers. All young people who are either from very poor homes or orphaned, some through the war other by HIV. Schooling and various skills are taught and one troupe is currently touring in France. Again there is support but funding is also obtained by a restaurant on site which helps and is again staffed by the students, great evening. Doing Jack now (Daniels that is) whilst updating the blog, it really is a great excuse to sit in the bar. Pack tonight and on to PhnomPhen tomorrow.
ATB D A & S
We start out down a small river towards the lake and bumped into a boat dragging along about ten houses, families and assorted livestock. We all got a bit bound up, the poor chap we got stuck next to started getting a bit concerned as our water cooling out pipe pumped gallons of water into his small boat before we moved.
Cut across the lake which is the largest fresh water lake in South East Asia. Then on to the river itself. It meanders for miles some times wide sometimes overgrown and only the width of the boat. There are many villages and the life looks hard and remote. Some of the houses are little more than floating shacks. They need to float as although the river is high(completely dry and unavigable at times) it still has about another 10 feet to rise in the middle of the wet season. Livings are made from fishing and rice farming, although early rains have destroyed much of the harves,t which has started to try and save some crop. Adam had to graciously turn down a marriage proposal made by the owner of a restaurant on behalf of her daughter, who was in actual fact a very attractive seventeen year old. Dowry wasn’t too bad and half price cokes for passing family and friends, fill your boots.
The people are evidently very poor but every single child you see has a smile and wave for a passing boat. It seems odd to see children probably only 5 -6 away from their parents swimming or in boats up the river fishing.
Battambang what a trek, my tan has taken on a redish hue today lets hope it browns off quick the camera can’t cope with the glow. Hotel is different from planned in that by all accounts it didn’t cut the mustard with Kuoni so in a small boutique hotel (whatever that means) suffice to say its a little more rustic than the last one. It has everything we need including free wifi, thankyou, and we only have two nights.
ATB D A & S
Later start today. It turns out Kuoni have never run this actual tour before so we are ginuea pigs. The nice thing is the tour has been arranged just for us so we have some lattitude to where we go but more importantly when, today is therefore later, awesome. We head over to Ankgor Wat to go on the ballon we missed the other day, unfortunately it dumped down when we were due to go. Thethered it goes up about 200 meters to give some fantastic views of Angkor and the surrounding countryside.
Over to Beng Mealea about 1 1/2 hours away. Its a, you guessed it, temple complex. It has a a large moat about 1km by 1km overtaken by pink lotus flowers. Inside the complex has been left to nature there has been no jungle clearing and no restoration. It is visited by very few people and is virtually untouched save a few walkways but much is still a climb and scramble to get around. It is still as it was discovered 150 odd years, truly impressive in a different way from Angkor.
We then visited an artisan school which whilst not on the tour was our call. Here sponsored originally but the European Union, local teenagers are taught artisan skills. Part of the school is for deaf and mute students who have to have learned to sign in order the teachers, well, can teach. They specialise in paint on silk, metalwork and wood or stone carving very interesting and very skilled. Once taught they can then take these skills home to make a living from the art they produce.
Back to the hotel for some R&R. Had a Thai Massage, I know what your thinking so don’t. Afterwoods I felt like I had done and hour and half of Thai Boxing rather massage not relaxing at all hearing my spine crack about six times as she twisted me was very disconcerting to say the least. Last night in Seim Reap so dinner and packing for the move onto Battambang tomorrow.
ATB D A & S
Its is difficult to put into words the size of the whole area covers about 400sq km. Some of the temples themselves are 3km by 3km. We also got up at 4.45am ( I KNOW) to watch sunrise over Angkor Wat, or not as it turned out, it was cloudy so in fact it just got lighter and lighter. Back for brekky and then on the road.
We also visted the land mine museum run by an ex khmer rouge soldier who then went to fight for vietnam. Originally he laid landmines but in a kind of poacher turned gamekeeper has been instrumetal in clearing tens of thousands of mines. He still does today and there are hundreds of thousands left. The museum is also home to many children who have been maimed in the recent past and who are supported by the UN to help them overcome their injuries, to get an education and work. A country of contrasts that’s for sure.
Just got back from a typical Khmer meal in Siem Reap and a walk around the night market.
Quick sherbet before bed and a lie in tomorrow, how welcome.
ATB D A & S
The Elephant and Leper King terrace were very impressive and although more run down than Angkor Wat the size is incredible at 9 square km. Quick stop for local lunch then the Bayon another very large temple and very steep climb. Then onto another temple Ta Prohm(see picture of the day) which was the back drop to Tomb Raider, no Lara Croft (dissapointing) but amazing arcitecture but the most fasinating thing is the way the trees have grown through it some over 400 years old.
Tonight just visited a local restaurant that had a theatre with Cambodian dancing it was absolutely excellent the food, costumes and dancing was superb. Dancing my god even the boys said it was spectacular (their words, I know). Just chilling in the bar with a diet coke (yeah right). Early start (5am)to watch sunrise over Angkor Wat.
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Arrived at the hotel about 10 am looking to get a bit of shut eye. Not to be our guide informs us we are on visit to the Angkor museum, AT 12. Just time to unpack and grab a shower before heading out. Museum was very infomative and then on to Angkor Wat. Very impressive as we pull up but even more so when you get up close. The history scale and carvings are awesome.
Tomorrow we are on and elephant ride into one of the other temples even bigger than Angkor Wat. We have the afternnon off so probably just kick back and catch up on that missing sleep. Now been up for 33 hours as I write and I nearly fell asleep in the middle of a Long Island Ice Tea, that would have been tragic. Blog is struggling with photos so I will try and sort that.
Sobering chat with our guide who will be with us until Saturday and we move. Chit chat, but asked him how old he was, he didn’t know. He was found with an older brother when he was about 18 months old, they think due to the fact he was old enough to be walking. His mother, father who he cannot remember (no photos) and younger brother were killed by the Khmer Rouge, he doesn’t even know when his birthday is. Certainly an afternoon of contrasts particularly between the Khmer’s golden reign when Angkor was built and the recent history it has been left with. Puts what little issues you have into perspective.
On a lighter note the rain has been minimal and tha area is green, lush and with much to see.
ATB D, A, & S
Fairly painless flight apart from the normal screaming kids(I never subjected my fellow travellers to that when mine were small, well I dont think I did, they were angels, actually they didn’t fly) why do people do that, ten hours with a new born. Still, Early morning 6.30 and onward flight delayed about half hour so got some time to kill, as well as some small children.
Doesn’t matter where you go in the world. There’s some comfort in the consistency in the m25.