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Cambodia I

Those who know me are aware we booked this last minute, 2 weeks before leaving. It was expensive, but I swayed my beloved with the price difference between just about anywhere and Cambodia one you get there. A beer is 30p, a cocktail £1.25 (or £2.50 in a really posh hotel). A Khmer meal about £2-£3, and frankly, we could've found cheaper, but at those prices, why even bother looking.

The weather was extremely kind to us. The first 3 days in Phnom Penh it was 29 but overcast, which mean we could do our sightseeing reasonably comfortably. In Sieam Reap and Sihanoukville, which we spent 4 days in each, it was 30-38 degrees and very sunny. Lots of photos look a bit washed out due to the extreme sunlight. It's tropical, humid heat, and I'd advise anybody travelling, even backpacking, to go for an air con option, it really is worth it. I struggled at Angkor Wat, a million steps and all that heat, arghhhh.

Phnom Penh is just mad-on-a-stick. The trafiic is horrendous, people, cars, bikes, mopeds and of course the ubiquitous tuk tuks, everywhere. There seems to be little in the way of obeying road signs or traffic laws. In fact in the local paper was the following " A woman driver had her handbag stolen from the passenger seat of her car whilst stopping at a red light. The Police found this strange as it it not local custom to stop at red lights". You see old men pushing wooden barrows piled high with water melons, across six lanes of crazy trafiic. If you can imagine what that would be like using the Hanger Lane Gyratory, you can see why I had to hold boo's hand crossing the road! You feel the whoosh of the motos and tuks go within centimeteres of you. And the roadside is just another commerce area. Pedicure, haircut, butchery, new wheel, you name it, you can do it right on the side of a busy road. No trick is missed.

We did the 2 main temples in the city centre, I loved both of those, an oasis of peace in a very busy city. The markets were the diametric opposite, seething pits of people, and goods literally piled to the ceiling. All sorts. Car exhaust, bale of silk, a dozen frogs, a new phone, whatever you can think of, they sell. And cheaply. You negotiate for everything.  http://www.phnompenh.gov.kh/phnom-penh-city-russian-market-142.html and http://www.phnompenh.gov.kh/phnom-penh-city-central-market-141.html . We also visted The Royal Palace http://www.phnompenh.gov.kh/phnom-penh-city-royal-palace-125.html. I liked the Silver Pagoda lots, Unfortunately far too little in the way of explanation (in any language) as to what things were, but they were stunning. And I did put my bare foot on the solid silver floor. The Genocide Museum http://www.tuolsleng.com/ was awful, but you have to do it.

The river front http://www.phnompenh.gov.kh/phnom-penh-city-river-front-144.html is a great place to eat or cocktail in the evening. The Mekong is a slow, lazy river, quite calm. So many choices for whatever you want to do. It's also very safe. Cambodians respect women.

We took a 5 hour coach down to the seaside at Sihanoukville, which is a beautiful seaside place with a few beaches http://www.canbypublications.com/sihanoukville-cambodia/sihanoukville-cambodia-home.htm and golden-white sand. Tres relaxing, and again, everything was cheap. Lots of backpackers there, parties on the beach til sun up. Again, food was lovely, we hap a Happy Pizza, LOL and a lovely beach BBQ meal. Boo sang "Woman" to me at karaoke. There is a bit of pestering from the kids selling stuff, but easily do-able. We found an open-air night club, complete with gorgeous swimming pool, doing 4 beers for about 60p! There's a few small markets there, but basically it's a chillax place. We had a gorgeous little tree house, wooden, at the top of the steps, right on the beach, surrounded by jungle. You'd wake up and find dogs asleep on your verandah chairs. All very laid back, so we stayed an extra night, but moved to an hotel with a pool, for just £20 a night. Unreal really.

Back to PP for another night, and then we went by speedboat to Siem Reap. Unfortunately, we'd had a rather big night out the evening before. very big in fact, so I spet on deck most of the time. Boo came up for a cuddle (OK, he was dead horny) and ended up with bad sunburn on one shoulder and one leg, tsk!

Arrived in Siem Reap tired n grumpy, and wanting comfort food. We found Little Italy, and a perfect Spaghetti Bolognaise followed, my ideal comfort food, which instantly perked me. The waitresses were lovely, and the cocktails scrumptious. And again, very reasonably priced, cheap for us in the UK.

We had a suite here for Crimbo https://www.sokhahotels.com/siemreap/ and loved it. The bath could easily seat 6, the super-kingsize was about 3 double beds big and it really was a little paradise. On arrival, you are seated with a glass of fresh mango juice and a cold, scented flannel on the sofa, whilst the receptionist kneels at your feet to check you in.

Christmas Eve, I nipped out onto the balcony for a quick ciggie, minus clothes, and a full orchestra, in evening dress, struck up below. That was followed by a 30 strong schoolgirl choir singing carols. The hotel was beautifully decorated for Christmas, the lights and displays were simply fantastic. Much better than anything here. This hard hearted non-believer, who wanted to dodge Christmas, shed a tear, for the effort they'd gone to. Superb.

Christmas day started off our own special way, and then down to a ginormous buffet. The food was fantastic. Next up was a luxury massage each, absolutely spot on, pure bliss.  Then clothes off, and cocktails by the pool. Dinner at La Malraux, a good French restaurant, which we picked for it's fabulous decor. Great steaks, and we loved the orchids growing overhead. We hadn't booked, and it was full, but they found us a table. Service a tad slow, but we were in no hurry anyway. Cocktails were ace.

We extended an extra night, how could you not with such an amazing place. We spent a full day in the temples of Angkor Wat. The hotel organised a tuk tuk for us, about £10 for a whole day for a uniformed driver! He was a lovely chap too, spoke English and was very knowledgeable. The temples were just amazing, and the history just soaked in. It's an incredibly beautiful place, and my words just can't do it justice. We did all of the major ones, including the one where they filmed Indiana Jones. Lunch in a tiny off-site place run by three tiny Cambodian ladies. A very tiring day, but sooooo worth it.

Dinner, in an accidental find, Khmer Kitchen, a bamboo restaurant, on stilts, serving lovely food, cheap, authentic, and absolutely delicious. We were lucky to turn up late when it wasn't busy, but there was still live music. I fed their cats and happily quaffed their very good cocktails.

The coach back was an absolute nightmare. The road, all 100 km of it is dug up, for 4 years as we later found out. 5 hours turned into 8, it was awful.

So back to PP for 2 last nights. We'd previously found a restaurant on a crossroads, nothing special to look at, but great service and delicious food. We ordered 4 main courses, because it's so cheap, you feel you can try more, which is of course a plus. Cocktails were very good too, and it's well located if you want to go on afterwards.

The Killing Fields were next on the agenda. I'm not going to review this as such, just to say, you really should do the audio tour and listen to all of the stories. They are heartbreaking. This is a must-do for Phnom Penh visitors, as heart-breaking as it is. The same goes for the Genocide Museum. There's a sign up saying NO SMILING, but there's nothing to smile at. It's an horrific story, and something you must see if in Phnom Pehn, even if the money goes into the pockets of a Vietnamese businessman. I sad reminder of man's inhumanity to man, and a very sombre experience.

Bored of typing now, more later!


Call me Madam

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