We have now arrived in Cambodia by way of a 2 day boat “tour” via the Mekong Delta near Ho Chi Minh and up the Mekong river to Phnom Penh. The Mekong is the world’s 10th longest river and starts in China then runs through Burma, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam.
I say “tour” in inverted commas as half of the activities we were promised didn’t transpire. But what made it entertaining was that when we spoke to our fellow tourists they were promised completely different things to us, like a trip to a crocodile farm and a luxury floating hotel. I guess the tour operator figured that as our final destination was a different country we wouldn’t come back to complain.
Anyway we went with the flow and it was fun watching life on the Mekong river…
The boats have “eyes” to keep them safe and scare off crocodiles…
We saw how rice paper is made…
We had some yummy elephant ear fish for lunch…..
I made a new friend?!?!?!?…..
The border crossing was an experience. We had a nervous moment when our boat moored up and a man on a motorbike disappeared with our passports, but luckily we were re-united a few hours later at passport control. I wonder how many fake copies were knocked out in that time?!?!?! Other travellers have said that the Cambodian way of life is much more laid back compared to Vietnam, and the Cambodian border crossing definitely reflected this, with it’s shady courtyard and a hammock or two. A few of the immigration officers were asleep! It seemed to take forever for us to be processed, but waiting is all part of the experience and easy to do in the warm sun with pleasant company.
(the Vietnamese Border)
Our tour group again included some characters. As always the Aussies were present and great fun (they used phrases like “fair dincom” and “rack off” much to Mark’s amusement). We also spent time chatting to a Dutch chap and a young German as well as 2 French lads who have been travelling since October and had made their way to Vietnam via Russia, Mongolia, China and Japan. Their stories were very interesting. The German and Dutchman teamed up with the Aussie chap to drink every single boat we went on dry and I’m amazed we never lost them overboard!
I wasn’t able to catch it on camera unfortunately, but I’ll never forget watching a young Cambodian boy washing his cows in the river. The cows looked happy to be cooling off. Amazing.
We arrived in Phnom Penh in the late afternoon and hopped in our first Tuk Tuk of the trip. As it was Chistmas I’d booked a room at a new boutique hotel called “The Villa Paradiso” (okay sounds tacky I know!). I was a little nervous what it was going to be like, as I have a history of booking dodgy hotels…..staying in a deserted hotel in a Stockholm industrial estate a few years back springs to mind. Anyway, I needn’t have worried as it was lovely. The Villa Paradiso is a converted colonial villa and we had a massive Chinese themed room, with a 40″ tv with free movies and a bath you could swim in.
(Mark reunited with good TV!)
We decided to adopt the Cambodian way of life and have a relaxed Christmas. The morning was spent walking around the city looking at the sights and explaining to Tuk Tuk drivers that we didn’t want to be taken to the Killing Fields on Christmas Day (it’s really important to know the history, but not the most festive of experiences). The rest of the day was spent at the hotel, making the most of the pool, jacuzzi and spa. I really could get used to this backpacker lifestyle.
Hope you all had a fabulous Christmas! We have been thinking of you.