Bussed from Khao-San early in the morning, (we left our hearts to the sappers there of course). Giant Ibis gave us a lovely ride, coffee and croissants in the morning, egg-rice and cold water for lunch.
So we bumped merrily along over flyovers and freeways out of Bangkok, the smog almost passing for mist in the early morning light.
After a few hours we reached the Cambodian border, 1400 Baht for the visa, in and out of cattle pens and corrals, past bored immigration officers listlessly adding to our fabulous stamp collections.
Farewell Aranyaprathet and hello Poipet, the Cambodian border town which strangely, In a Buddhist/Communist country, is chockers with casinos. We stopped for a wee break in one and they are just like casinos everywhere, people with dead eyes in a stale run down atmosphere slumped over tables or staring fixedly and in a glazed sort of way at pokie machines. No joy or love to be felt there -except for Kristen who is ever-joyouse when she finds a clean toilet.
Once out of Poipet the scene changed again, cut rate sculptors lined the roads with statues of very large roosters, Buddhas and bright garden pots. Statues of Holy Men at intersections with strange lights spouting out of their heads, others with their arms cut off, a little scary but quite armless (boom-boom). Gardens flashed by with topiaries of horses, peacocks etc.
Our peculiar Malaysian friend from the Hat Yai train had told us that when he was in Cambodia a few years ago he had noticed that no one was wearing glasses. He wondered whether this was to do with diet or heredity but then realised it was because all of the glasses wearing crowd (intellectuals don’t you know) were bumped off by Pol Pot and his gang. We will scour the streets tomorrow to see if there are many Cambodians bumping into walls and lamp posts.
Finally into Siem a Reap and a surprisingly pleasant place it is. Very low rise, with a river, some nice parks and a museum and it is obviously well established on the banana pancake trail. Lots of restaurants, hotels and bars. We like it a lot which is just as well as we are camping here for a week.
The traffic is fantastic, masses of scooters, a few cars, lots of tuk tuks and all of them engaging in a sort of waltz with pedestrians. You step out into the oncoming, sway slightly, shimmy, quick step, goose step, high step, cake walk, shuffle to the left, do a half turn and dip and move forward a foot or two towards the promised land, the footpath on the other side of the street. All around you scooters and cars beep beep beep, gently swaying and changing course every couple of seconds to flow around you like waves around a rock. I don’t know how but it all seems to work.
Here is our first Cambodian meal, a mild chicken curry and an amok fish dish (latter not pictured). Both yummy, they and 4 juices less than $25 AUD. The hotel is also lovely and only $32 AUD a night.
We ARE in rural Asia at last. Though resting our weary bonces in a very lovely hotel we can hear atmospheric and pleasingly distant roosters crowing far away. The full cock-a-doodle-do ringing out faintly. Nearby our local Rooster replies as if he needs a throat lozenge, cock-a-doodle-coughing rather than doing. Kristen thinks he’s an old rooster, “not that there’s anything wrong with that” I point out hurriedly. Fortunately K is quite partial to old roosters.
Our old boiler finally clears his throat and let’s rip beautifully just outside our window. Time to get up and start thrashing the rice or whatever it was the peasant ancestors did at this ungodly hour ? Milk the hens ? Slaughter the landlords ?
Other animals of unknown provenance join in. One sounds like a muffled clock struggling to chime, another like a cart with a squeaky wheel.
We threw off the bedsheets and trekked to the Museum to get us some context for our big trip to Angkor Wat tomorrow. Very interestin’. It seems that Angkor is the Universe, (whatever the heck that means.) this sort of guff always reminds me of the story of the two little old lady Buddhists who assured GBS that the world was resting on the back of a turtle. “Ah ladies, but what is the turtle standing on” ? Asked George. To which they replied, ” you can’t fool us Mr Shaw, it’s turtles…ALL the way down” !
We went and gaped at the market.
These may be all that remains of the customers from the above.
The notorious Pub Street.
We’re going there tonight…purely in the interests of research you understand.
Dropped into a temple and checked out the band.
This kid was digging it.
Back along the river we did tread.
For a spot of lunch ( Mango & Fish Salad) with our new pal, the proprietor, Chin. Chin speaks English like a native and was evidently plucked from a tiny village as a child and sponsored by …well…by us I guess, or at least the Government of the day. Menzies ? Holt ? Sometime around then.
Apologies for the inordinate length of these posts. Next we’ll be telling you how often we have to change our Reg Grundy’s every day ( believe us you DON’T want yo know).
its true we are overexcited.
Well…maybe just a little…
WE ARE GOING TO ANGKOR WAT TOMORROW !!!