This blog is being written from Cambodia, a country which we were not actually planning on visiting, but which we will be sad to leave tomorrow morning... Our venture into Cambodia really came to be because Roisin was planning on coming here alone, which would suck. So... we took a look at our Lonely Planet, decided Cambodia sounded pretty cool, and went to get our Visas. Very wise decision, in the end.
On Monday, we caught a night bus out of Laos and into Phnom Penh, the Cambodian capital. The border crossing was relatively painless, if you can overlook a 24 hour bus ride, a taxi ride in the forest with eight people crammed into a 5 seat car (the driver was even sitting on someone's lap) and a really fat/smelly/sweaty Cambodian man who really got on our nerves.
We arrived in Phnom Penh around 8pm on Tuesday and promptly went to find food... our menu for the past 24 hours had consisted of Pringles, M&Ms and pistachios. Then we found a bar (we met some new English boys, Andy and Simon, so clearly the evening was going to end in a pub of some sort) and finally our beds. The next day, we visited the killing fields. The killing fields are a memorial site for the thousands of people who died in the 1978 Khmer Rouge genocide. The mass graves and tower of skulls were really quite depressing, but the beer-sponsored benches kind of detracted from the experience... Also, don't bother asking what the genocide was about... we don't know. The signs were pretty unclear and mostly in very broken English.
The next day, we caught a bus down to Sihanoukville, which is essentially just a beach town. Our hotel was about a 3 minute walk from the beach, so that is of course where we spent our first day. It's a beautiful beach, but when you first arrive you have to be prepared. Not for the intensity of the sun, but for the swarms of women and children who are just waiting to pounce on rich tourists. The minute your feet hit the sand, you've got a woman pulling at your hands and feet offering manicures and pedicures, a little girl trying to sell you bracelets and a little boy trying to sell you all kinds of books. Being the sucker that she is, Steph gave in to the manicure/pedicure combo (5$! Come on!) and the three of us had a bracelet made... fools! Anyway, we had a great day at the beach, got some colour (red) and then headed back to the hotle for dinner. The next day, it rained all day, so we stayed in... it was Simon's birthday, and Matt and Callum had come to join us, so we had a bit of a party in the hotel restaurant. It made for some pretty inetresting photos.
Yesterday morning, we caught yet another bus to Siem Reap, where we are now. Siem Reap is a few kilometres away from the Temples of Angkor, which were very nearly voted one of the new seven wonders of the world this July. They didn't win, but they came oh-so-close! The Temples date back to the 11th century, so what we got to visit were ruins. They really are quite amazing. We got to visit three small temples and the main attraction, Angkor Wat. They are all in varying states of shabbiness, but just about everything about them is charming in a decrepit kind of way. Except, of course, for the stairs... they are a death trap. The stairs to just about all the temples are extremely high, about 1 inch wide and go straight down. It's insane! Apparently, this is also where they filmed part of the Tomb Raider movies, although Kristelle said she didn't recognize any of it.
Now, while the Temples were really impressive, they were not very exciting (naturally!). The excitement came later, when we were walking down a path to another ruin and we spotted two monkeys just sitting there in the middle. One of them was playing with something shiny and the other had nothing. So we obviously took out our cameras... well, it turns out, the monkey with nothing took a liking to Steph's silver camera, and while she was crouched in front of it (not too close, we promise) the monkey decided to go for it. So what did we do (everyone, not just Steph)?? Ran for it, screaming like little girls. The monkey didn't give up that easily, though. It got awfully close to Steph, hissing and baring it's teeth... then they followed us down the path for while. Overall, a slightly scary, but mostly exciting (and by exciting, we mean still scary) experience.
So that's about it for the past week... tomorrow, another long bus, this time to Bangkok, then it's off to Phuket for some serious beach time!
See you soon!
Steph, Kris and Jo