Sunday, 20 October 2013

Return to Phnom Penh

PSo where we last left off, we were about to embark on an 11-hour bus journey to Sihanoukville which is on the south coast of Cambodia. Unfortunately our plans were scuppered when the Siem Reap-Phnom Penh section of the journey took 10 hours instead of the usual 6, meaning we missed our connecting bus. Basically, the local bus company (Sorya) provided an insanely unsuitable double decker bus to transport us along the roads i.e. dirt tracks, of Cambodia and it couldn't travel at over 30 km/hr for fear of tipping over. It was a very slow and bumpy journey. 

We arrived in Phnom Penh at sundown despite having left at 7.30am and with the torrential rain which had started, and the flooded roads, we decided it was unsafe to continue on to Sihanoukville which was due to take a further 6 hours. Instead, we opted to stay in Phnom Penh. Unable to face a 10 hour round trip for the sake of a couple of days, and with a flight to Kuala Lumpur booked, we chose to have a couple of extra days exploring the city. With the familiarity of PraTna guesthouse, a $2 jug of beer and the first food of the day (balanced meal of fried rice, spring rolls, pork dumplings and chips!!) we could relax for the rest of the night and escape the rain. 

The next few days were rather uneventful as we had already taken in most of the sights of Phnom Penh, so we were able to take it at a more leisurely (or lazy) pace. This started with a lie-in until 12pm the next day followed by a trip to Central Market to make a start on Christmas shopping to take home with us. Later that day, we bumped into David (who we'd met in Siem Reap) in the lobby of our guesthouse so we made another trip to David's noodle bar (a different David) for some cheap and delicious food. 

The following day we had an incredibly lazy day in the guesthouse filling up on strawberry smoothies, iced teas and sting (a local energy drink) followed by a trip to a local bar to watch a screening of an interesting documentary on the Khmer Rouge and Pol Pot in their movie room. We returned to our room to find one of the many mini lizards we find everywhere, buried in my rucksack and spent a good ten minutes trying to catch it to let it outside. 

The next day we were a bit more active, and we went with David to the Cambodian National Museum stopping for amazing breaded chicken sandwiches and fruit shakes at a local cafe (along with a game of ludo). While we're not huge museum fans, this was surprisingly interesting. The gardens and the outside of the museum were really nice and there were a huge amount of ornate Buddhas, elephants and monkey statues inside. We also spotted some monks casually watching the tv inside which was cool. 

On our last night, the three of us went out for dinner and we made the most of our last Cambodian food enjoying amok and lok lak along with more fruit shakes. 

A random point of the evening was when a book seller who we had met the night before, started asking me about my phone, grabbed it and sat with us playing temple run and checking his Facebook for the rest of the night along with taking pictures of himself on my camera. We chatted to him for a while and discovered that he is only 14 (although he was out selling books by himself late into the night) and he wants to be a musician. Unfortunately though, like many people in Cambodia he is homeless and it was very surreal hearing about his life because while he was a typical 14-year-old boy in many ways, his life was also very different in others. 

The next day we made our way to Phnom Penh to leave Cambodia and head to Malaysia. We landed in Kuala Lumpur in the evening but only stayed one night. We stayed a horrible hostel in China Town (which looked awesome) and went for a Nandos, but will do some more exploring when we return. The only reason we were in KL this night was because we were unable to get a flight to our end destination, Borneo, that day. We headed back to the airport the next morning for our flight to Sandakan which is in the state of Sabah on the East Coast of Malaysian Borneo. We flew in over the green jungle and mountains surrounding the area, a view which got us very excited for the week ahead...

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