Tag Archives: cambodia

Good things and sad things

7 Aug

We still keep in touch with a lot of the people we met during our travels and had some happy news recently as we heard that Pathum, one of our friends we met in Sri Lanka, got married. We met him and his lovely family near Hikkaduwa (in this post) and again when we returned before we left Sri Lanka (here) and we are really pleased for him and his wife.


Sadly, he also let us know that his Dad, Silva, passed away before the wedding in a road accident. The danger of the roads in Sri Lanka were made light of by us for the purposes of the blog, but bus journeys and even crossing the road were genuinely scary and we are sad for him and his family that such a nice man has died in such a way. He was one of our favourite of the many characters we met along the way in Sri Lanka and we are very sorry we won’t be able to keep our promise to see him again when we return.

Also heartbreaking was the news from Cambodia the other day that our amazing puppy, Namnam, whom we rescued from the jungle (here), nursed back to health, took on a beach holiday and to restaurants and on buses halfway across Cambodia before finding a suitable expat adoptive family for him to live with in Sihanoukville, has gone missing from his home. Having seen the evidence for ourselves in various markets across SE Asia, the inescapable conclusion is that there is a high chance that he will have ended up on the table. Cambodians were urged by their government several years ago to eat more dog as a way to access cheaper meat and also to reduce the stray population, and sadly a well-loved and fed dog is often more appealing than something mangey and starved on the streets. Apparently this happens quite a lot. Having come from such a bad start, I hope the year he had with his new owners and the ridiculous amount of love and affection we showered on him whilst he was ours made up for the potentially unbearably grim ending to his story.


That’s travelling folks!

14 May

And so we said goodbye to SE Asia. Sensing this, the taxi driver who dropped us off at the bus station took his last chance to rip us off and charged us 5 more ringgits than it cost on the way there because he refused to use the meter, but at 7am we weren’t going to argue. He had a good go at trying to convince us the buses would all be empty and would wait for hours before going to the airport and that we should actually pay him lots of money to take us all the way there, but we’d heard this many times before on our travels and just politely smiled, nodded, and then insisted we went to the bus station, where we caught the bus for £2 each and it left immediately. Can’t blame him for trying though!

Unlike the other airports we’ve visited, KL’s is quite big and full of people, so although we left with plenty of time, by the time we’d worked our way round the various queues and check points, the gate was already boarding. By luck of the draw, I managed to get a seat in the centre by myself – the third time this has happened, win! [Except seconds after writing this, a snotty kid came and sat next to me playing his bleepy little game thing. Giving him the death stare like I owned the plane didn’t work so may have to resort to actual violence, or at least making him kill himself. In the game, honest…I made him move in the end. I did give away my copy of Marie Claire to an Aussie girl to restore karma, but not sure that makes up for kicking a small child. Probably not going to heaven after all].  And the meal I’d booked whilst in Koh Samui before the tiny fish eyes incident was actually edible and Malaysian so that evens up our junk food:Malaysian ratio somewhat.

I ordered an Asahi beer and ended up with a bottle of sake but that was soon corrected and a little bag of Bombay mix was placed in front of me to go with the lager. I immediately gave this to Craig as I hate nuts…after inspected these he informed me that actually, it was a bag of tiny battered fish (with and without eyes). Yummy.

So I guess it’s time to do a round up of SE Asia seeing as I did one on Sri Lanka (don’t look at our ‘where are we’ page – our route looks like a plate of spaghetti)…

I was going to do a list of good things and bad things but it’s impossible as they often cross over. For instance, the first thing that hits you when you get off the plane is the wall of heat. That never, ever, goes away. If you don’t have a fan, or can’t afford aircon (like us mostly!), you will be sweating at all times. Even in the shower. We ended up getting used to it after so long, but the only time I really felt cold was when we were in Vietnam in January and when we had airconditioning in the room but weren’t given sheets. The rest of the time, you’re either slightly sweaty or very sweaty. But pretty much guaranteed sunshine every day was a never ending benefit despite the feeling of being hot all the time. It took a while to fight the English urge when the sun came out to immediately drive to the seaside and sit on the beach, no matter where you are. When you live in the Midlands, as far away as possible from the beach, sunshine is a rare pleasure and one that you can’t complain about.

Smells is another one. I will never get tired of the smell of frangipani trees, or jasmine, incense, delicious food cooked on the street, limes, spices and rain on hot pavements or grass, but all too often you’re half way through enjoying a wonderful combination of these and you spy a bin full of warm, rotting food, or fish drying in the sun and you tell your lungs ‘abort, abort!’ but it’s too late, it smacks you in the face before you can do anything about it and all you smell and taste is bin juice and fish guts.

One thing I feel really bad about though is the way they treat animals here. There are some people who look after them but I would say the vast majority don’t. From puppies in a cage in the boiling hot sun all day without food and water, to zoo exhibitions where the animals are in tiny cages, to stray (or pet) dogs covered in fleas and mange, it really broke my heart. I saw a Doberman like Holls in a cage in a petshop yesterday: clearly distressed and pacing in a sun-filled shop window and I really did consider buying it but there would be no way to take it over to Australia. Poor thing was docked and cropped within an inch of its life and was bored senseless. I am not sure why the state of the animals affected me more than the way the poorest people lived or seeing children begging on the streets – maybe it’s time to sort my life out? Or accept the fact and just work in a kennels?!

On that note, here’s a quick update on the puppy we adopted in Cambodia and rehomed with Geordie, a Canadian expat, and his family

From starving mongrel to pampered pup in three short months!

Something we could both embrace was the food though. Aside from the junk fest we’ve been having over the last few days, purely because it was there and it was a link to back home, not to mention laden in fat and therefore scrumptious, we have loved pretty much every minute of trying Asian food. We didn’t bother trying the things that we knew were going to make us sick (spiders, bugs, kidneys etc) but everything else was lovely and the worst times we got food poisoning was when we ate at restaurants, not street sellers. They have some of the cheapest and nicest food out there give it a try :)

Noise is another omnipresent presence in SE Asia. I hate not being able to sit in silence and it really began to wear me down that I needed to be underwater before getting any kind of peace and quiet. Whether manmade or natural, you will not find a quiet spot. I think that’s why I’ve read so much here – it helps block out the madness around me but eventually I’ll have to put it down and Asia will come flooding back in until the next time!

Philosophy – whether it’s Buddhism, Hinduism, Muslim or other, we very rarely saw people get angry or shout whilst we were out here. We know it happens as we spoke to the only farang Thai police on Koh Samui, and he definitely saw violence, but in day-to-day life, everyone we spoke to was very calm and resigned to the fact that being angry helps no one. If you want to bargain or disagree, it’s best to smile the whole time than get cross. This was incredibly difficult at borders where we charged huge amounts of money over the official price, or when we got robbed on the ferry etc, but I think it’s good to take a leaf out of their book generally and try and get on with things without bearing grudges or teeth. They also have some of the best manners – everyone is addressed as sir or madam in English and most countries’ people were very friendly and welcoming. In Thai they use ‘kaa’ if you are a woman and ‘kup’ if you are a man to show respect. This bled into English on Koh Samui so every morning you got ‘GOOD MORNINGKAA!’ or ‘HELLOKUP!’ depending on who was speaking. The exception to traditional manners is the habit of hocking up whatever is in your throat and then spitting it where you feel like – on the bus floor, on the street, over bridges, up walls. A custom I really couldn’t get on board with!

SE Asia was incredibly beautiful, particularly in the more undeveloped areas such as Cambodia and Laos. Whereas the ancient temples and buildings we saw were stunning, the landscape was breath-taking and it even made long and otherwise boring bus journeys a joy. We were never happier than when we were climbing the mountain in Vang Vieng, or cruising down the Mekong in Luang Prebang, or trekking through the jungle in Banlung. Even though I couldn’t afford to buy new lens for my camera, I am most happy with the nature shots of all the places we’ve been as they will cheer me up when I’m back in England staring at four grey office walls and wishing I was elsewhere :)

Toilets are fairly hard to find, never mind negotiate when you’re laden with backpacks and carrier bags. Carry babywipes with you and don’t breathe in. Don’t put your bag down because the floor is inevitable wet with water from the bucket and ladle (or worse) and don’t forget to check for spiders and cockroaches in the bowl or paper before you go! I found the bucket and ladle quite good though, especially when this was your shower option, as some of the showers we used were so weak you couldn’t wash the shampoo off. Best use the ladle and pour as much as you want over you!

Shopping was fairly amazing – we wished so often that we weren’t travelling and could take all the gorgeous things home with us. Even more tempting was the relative cheapness of everything! But we couldn’t carry much and the things we did buy were little bits and pieces for friends and family, along with some clothes for ourselves as the temperature changed. And best of all, you can haggle! If you’re going anywhere in SE Asia, never pay the first price. Or the second. Or even the third! Craig is more ruthless than I am so we got some pretty good deals.

And then of course there are the people. Obviously you get the scammers who are just after your money, but generally we found SE Asians to be the friendliest, gentlest, happiest and most generous people. Some people we met had been through the most horrific experiences but were still laughing to tell the tale, some people had nothing but offered us a shady spot and a cold drink when we had gone on one of our stupid walking adventures without water; from the old lady who fixed my skirt with her sewing machine, to the man in Laos who patched up our tyre and gave us two drinks for less than £2, to the many guesthouse owners who let us stay in their rooms with a six week old puppy, we’ll never forget you!

Things I have lost:


Nail file


2 combs





Bikini bottoms


Things I should have brought on the trip:

Something to wear on my lower half other than one skirt

Less cardis

DVD drive

Things we found:

60,000 dong in Vietnam

1 puppy

Total number of miles travelled:


Backpacker’s bad luck bingo:

Top 5 favourite experiences:

Thai New Year/Craig’s birthday on Koh Samui

Swapping a hat for a dog in a Cambodian jungle village

Gorgeous botanical gardens in Kandy

Messing about in a Cambodian waterfall

Mountain climbing in Vang Vieng

All in all, a great trip and something we were very lucky to get the chance to do. Saw a lot, got our eyes opened, laughed a lot and met some amazing people. Can’t wait to go back…although I have really missed cooking my own meals, gardening, having a bath instead of a grim shower full of frogs and spiders, the relaxation of being able to speak to someone in their own language and of course Marmite. The Aussies have this poor imitation called ‘Vegemite’ but I’ve asked my stepdad to bring the real deal over from England as our stash ran out in Sri Lanka. Oh happy days!

Three countries, four currencies, three days, two buses and one exploding tyre.

12 Mar

The last few days have been lots of fun but very bad for our wallets…wandering round the night markets and going out with friends seem to be unavoidable in Siem Reap, no matter how many people have got to be up at 6am to catch a bus (us) or to see the sunrise over the temples of Angkor Wat (Lauren)…

The night markets in Siem Reap are irresistible. If I had more money, arms and a house to go back to I would have definitely bought a lot more


But we were very restrained and only bought a few bits and pieces, assuring ourselves they would “come in handy at some point” (patterned scarves) or that they were “really useful” (sparkly bracelets).

We went out with Lauren and her friends Jayden and Tim to say goodbye the night before our bus to Bangkok. We ended up jumping in a tuktuk and asking the driver to take us to a karaoke bar…I was a little reluctant because the last karaoke bar we were taken to (last March) by a Cambodian was a karaoke bar/brothel/restaurant which was really not pleasant at all, but this one was awesome. You got your own private little rainbow booth for $3 per hour and songs in English, albeit it old ones.

We even got the driver involved

– he sang a song in Cambodian whilst we all got up and slow-danced (Cambodian songs usually being about heartache from what we’ve seen of their dance videos).

The next day we managed to get up for the bus and to be honest, I was looking forward to just sleeping to Thailand. But it was not to be – the bus companies had massively oversold the tickets so although we managed to clamber on the first one through some inventive and possibly underhand elbow manoeuvres, we couldn’t sit next to each other as there wasn’t enough spaces free. So I sat next to a French man with the longest legs I’d ever seen, and Craig sat next to an Israeli man who we ended up babysitting through the border, us being old hands having done it a total of once before, naturally.

There was a lot of faffing on the journey…we had to stop and “change the bus tickets” just before the border, then the border itself which took an hour or so to get through, then another change of bus (decanting us into minibuses as not everyone was going to Bangkok), then a lunch stop where yet another change of minibus would happen. We had managed to be fairly lucky about getting on the first of every bus going, so we had finished our lunch and were ready to go by the time the last of the other people who had been on the original coach were arriving. Bizarrely, we saw two people who both us made jump separately – Craig saw someone who from the back looked like a skinnier version of his best friend, Matt, who died last May, and I saw someone who was the spitting image (although a few years older) of a different Craig I knew who died in May nearly two years ago. What he was wearing, his hair, the way he smoked…scarily similar. But we were soon on the move again so quickly shook off the weird feeling.

We gathered all our stuff and tried to look ready so we could get on the first minibus to Bangkok (technically queue-jumping as we all had numbered stickers on us showing us the order). The plan worked and best of all, we were allowed to sit in the front by the driver which is right next to the air-conditioning. Win! I settled into my book and Craig napped a bit and all was well for a bit. However, the driver kept stopping at mechanics and pointing to a tyre. A couple of them gave prices he wasn’t happy with so we turned round and went back to the first one, where more air was put in the rear left tyre. We thought that was odd because if there’s a problem here, it’s usually ignored until it’s completely broken, but thought nothing of it as we were back on the highway going at the usual breakneck speed.

Until there was a huge bang – I had been reading and Craig was asleep so we weren’t sure what was going on – a very naughty word escaped from me as I realised there was a high ditch on the side of the road and it sounded like the bottom of the van had dropped out and Craig wasn’t wearing a seatbelt as there wasn’t one to wear. The driver didn’t panic thankfully and managed to get the van to a stop at the side of the road. We got out and surveyed the damage…this is what was left of the rear left tyre

The thing had exploded and ripped off, denting the van in the process and making a lot of mess. If it had been one of the front tyres I am sure we would have been done for. Craig helped the driver change the wheel but I was pretty shaky so stood at the side of the road with everyone else. I’m not sure if everyone realised what had happened (or could have) as the Italian girl’s first response was that she would now miss her connecting bus, and the two German girls didn’t even bother getting out…

But we made it here in one piece eventually. I don’t usually believe in fate or things like that but it was very strange we’d seen versions of Matt and Craig just before it happened. Weird. We were both still a bit dazed so we dumped our bags in our guesthouse on Khoa San Road and embraced the madness

We got chatting to a girl from Morocco who met a friend and took one of his fried crickets off him

…turns out she was expecting us to eat it – um no thanks – so she amused herself by arranging it in different positions on our glasses, in the ashtray, on the table…delicious. We ended up talking to three guys from Bristol which was a little awkward as it turned out that one of them was banned from the restaurant Craig used to work for in Bristol…by Craig. I left them chatting about the old days to go to bed :)

Just a short stopover in BK until we fly to Sri Lanka tomorrow morning, so I think the plan is just to get some really good hot Thai food and explore a bit before we’re off again….



Angkor Wat?

9 Mar

Soon after posting our last post on here, we met a Welsh girl called Lauren who was also staying at our guesthouse. Whilst I was talking to Mum on Skype, she was explaining to Craig that one of her bank cards had been stolen from her (locked) backpack and the other had been swallowed up by a cash machine at the border – meaning her bus left without her whilst she was trying to get back out of the ATM. When she did eventually get it out four hours later, it turned out her bank had blocked the card anyway so she had about $6 left on her. We leant Lauren my laptop so she could Skype her bank (call centre based in India – Craig went to check how she was doing and she busy repeating her date of birth 45 minutes into the call) but it looks like she won’t have a card for a week or two at least. As we both have UK bank accounts, her dad is going to transfer some money into my account so that I can take it out for her which should last her until she can pick her card up. Nightmare but at least we could pass on the favour Chris paid us in Banlung :)

We all went to get some food and drinks that evening, including a visit to Angkor Wat? bar on Pub Street. Last year everyone went out except me (in bed with food poisoning…familiar…) and went there and got free teeshirts after drinking two cocktails, so I was determined to go back this time and get me a teeshirt. However, I hadn’t reckoned on the size of the cocktails so we had one each (which I still got a shirt for, win) and Craig and I went back to the guesthouse, leaving Lauren chatting to some other people in the bar.

A combination of hangover and insane heat meant the next day was spent lazing in our hotel room. It has a fan and a curtain which was good enough as the heat was unbearable outside. We went for breakfast and then just immediately came back, stripped off to our pants and lied down for hours. After all that excitement, Craig did some laundry and ended up dripping with sweat. I’ve included a photo not because laundry is particularly novel but so you can see the mould in the room :/ At least we’re only going to be here for another day or two before we go to Bangkok to catch our flight to Sri Lanka.

Craig also set to work on his “make a diabolo toy from a coconut” plan (prototype one). He bought a coconut in the morning from a street seller and planned to cut the coconut in half, bolt it together to make a diabolo and see whether it worked as a toy or not. The problem was that coconuts here are sold with their tough green outer shell on, which has to be removed before you get to the more familiar brown husk inside. He had asked the street seller to cut it in half, but it didn’t go quite to plan as she got her machete out and smashed a whole coconut to pieces in front of him, looking very pleased with herself. Not quite what was meant…so he bought a whole one and started attacking it with his knife in the room. I was reading my book at the time, but over the next 15 minutes I could occasionally hear little hacking sounds and grunts coming from the corner. Craig eventually stood up and I saw that all that had been done was some random chunks of the green stuff had been removed as it was far tougher than expected…and that he’d got so hot he’d ended up stabbing it and had drunk all the juice, ruining the shell :) I look forward to watching the creation of prototype two.

We met up again with Lauren a few hours later and spotted Sinead, a girl who runs a clothing shop in Sihanoukville and one of Geordie’s friends, staying at our guesthouse. She had come on a shopping trip for her company so we ended up having dinner with her and Lauren. She said she had seen Geordie and Namnam the day before, and the puppy was running around with no problems. Geordie posted a picture on facebook last night of him

and a little video showing how much he’s improved since he was picked up just a few weeks ago in the jungle. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kp-wEnorAZ8&feature=related

Today was spent eating ice cream (proper stuff from a shop plus delicious slushies picked up from a vendor on the street – sweet crushed ice drinks with what we thought were berries at the bottom but turned out to be balls of jelly, awesome), wandering round the markets loading our already-full bags with more bits and pieces and buying new flipflops for Craig. He bought some in Vietnam that rubbed in between his toes so badly he cut the “thong” bit off and has been on a quest to find new ones ever since, managing to keep them on only by walking with his toes clenched into a claw-like position, poor thing. So it’s a relief for him to finally be able to have a comfortable pair of shoes. My flipflops got stolen in Kong Koh (why anyone would want them is beyond me, they were disgusting!) so I have been wearing Craig’s impulse bought ones that didn’t fit him. I have also been trying to find new ones but every exchange goes like this:

Me [picking up a pretty pair of sandals in a tiny Asian size]: Have you got these in a size 41 please?

Stall owner [wiping her eyes]: 41? HAHAHAHA. VERY BIIIIIG! No, sorry, we not have. But these ones are 41.

At this point, the stall owner will invariably pick up the most chunky, black or brown enormous monstrosities of men’s sandals (mandals).

Me: Ah but these are for men. I am a women, I would like nice ones.

Stall owner [looking up at me doubtfully]: But these are for beeeeeeautiful lady. These not men’s. But how about these?

The stall owner will begin holding up a selection of what look like orthapedic shoes for giants.

Me: Sigh.

The day we walked to Thailand

5 Mar

We went for breakfast at a little place by the sea and whilst we were there, we found a book of things to do in Koh Kong. One of them was to go to the zoo near the border of Thailand. As it happened, we were eating just near the bridge to get across so we decided that rather than go back and get that bike from our guesthouse, we’d get a tuktuk across. We hadn’t appreciated that it was 12km each way so weren’t expecting the driver to tell us it was $15…so we said no we’d walk.”You can’t walk, it’s 12km.”

Well now you’ve told us not to do something, we’re going to do it. So we started walking…”Ok, ok, $12″. “No, we’re walking. Thanks”. “Ohhhh. Ok. It’s 12km!!” “That’s alright, we need the walk. Goodbye.” We walked off.

“Hey! You! $10?”

“No, we’ll walk. Thank you.”


So off we walked to within 500m of the border of Thailand.

What we saved by walking may have been cancelled out by the amount we had to drink just to get there…including this

which tasted like “cigarette juice” according to Craig.

We didn’t see anyone else walking, but assumed that this was because walking was the intelligent decision favoured only by the knowledgeable few. The knowledgeable few who remembered that when you get to the zoo, you also have to walk around that…

But when we did get there (after seeing the tuktuk driver zip past several times, waving cheerfully to us each time), we were glad we didn’t pay to be driven over as it was $12 each – the most expensive entrance fee we’ve seen whilst we’ve been away I think. But when we looked round, it was clear they’d spent a lot of money on the enclosures and exhibits so we didn’t feel too bad.


I was expecting to see very small cages and sad looking animals given the standard of animal care here, but most of the animals looked happy enough, well fed and cared for and in reasonably sized enclosures. The smallest cage was the sea eagle’s…I guess they thought if they gave him a big enough cage to fly in no one would be able to see him, but it does seem weird they gave an enormous cage to the peacocks (who don’t fly much) and a tiny cage to a massive bird like the eagle. They also had animals shows on every couple of hours. The guidebook had warned us that these wouldn’t be to everyone’s taste, so we weren’t surprised when we went to investigate the orangutan show, the orangutan outside was wearing a dress and made to pose with people for pictures. We had a look at the set for the show and saw “Orangutan Boxing Match!”. We decided to give it a miss in favour of looking at the ostriches. You could get really close to the animals in most enclosures


Got to feed bambis sweet potatoes!

One of the more special exhibits.

There was a massive electric fence seperating the tigers from each other’s pens…and a tiny little metal railing seperating them from us!

Direction…or instruction?


They wouldn’t let us have a go on this for some reason. Maybe they knew it was our intent to steal it and pedal it around SE Asia. To Australia the Stupid Way?

We did relent and get a motorbike back each from the zoo. When we got back to the guesthouse and told Paddy that we’d walked to the zoo he at first didn’t believe us and then just kept asking “why” :)

We spent a nice night with the guys at the guesthouse, helping Mara get on Facebook and setting up his email account. This is his new profile picture

Mai, the lady that works there, took me under her wing and re-patched up my foot, gave me eucalyptus oil for my million bites (which I swapped for a nail varnish which she seemed pretty pleased with) and gave me a back massage. Mara said that when we come back we can build ourselves a house on his land near Kampot…an offer he may regret making!

We also booked bus tickets to Battambang for the morning – not realising we had to go back to Phnom Penh first because the Cardamom mountains are pretty inaccessible by road and it would take ages. So an epic 12 hour 2-bus journey later, we finally arrived here having been invited to attend a Cambodian wedding by one of the guys we met on the bus. It turned out that the offer wasn’t serious but little did we know we’d be gate-crashing one 14 hours later…

Just messing about in the river…

2 Mar

Yesterday was an awesome day. We had so much fun…even though it involved the Worst Bike in the World. We decided we wanted to go to the waterfalls about 20km from here so we rented a bike from Paddy, who assured it was “top quality bike”. Well it might have been a long time ago but it definitely wasn’t yesterday. We are not sure whether this is because Craig wore Andy’s helmet – Andy’s bike broke down every second day so it might have been our own fault :)

It took a long time to get to where the waterfall, partly because the bike crawled up hills, found every gravel trap going, clunked and spluttered over ever bump and partly because we couldn’t find the bloody things. We went up and down the same stretch of road for 15 minutes – every local we stopped said it was 2km in the direction we were going. So back and forth we went until we eventually found it. It was located 1.3km down a steep track, through streams and over crevices caused by water damage. After all the fun/terror of getting down there, we said the waterfalls had better be good.

And they were

except for this sign

Well, now I want to.

So I did

although this wasn’t the really big one as I quite fancied being alive for a little bit longer.

We had a power shower

…not sure this is the exact face Myleen would have pulled but the flow was really strong :)

We spent a long time just messing about – we had the place to ourselves

So after a couple of hours of swimming we got back on the stupid bike and up the hill, amusing ourselves by ducking down behind the handlebars racing-style every time a Cambodian overtook us as we were going about 10km per hour (well who knows, actually, the speedometer…and the fuel gauge…were broken. I said it was a stupid bike).

We went off to find the mangrove forest and walk through it on the boardwalk they’ve constructed.

It was absolutely beautiful

and as near to silent as I think I’m going to get in Asia. All you could hear was the rumble of distant boats and the mud the trees grow in popping occasionally.

We went over a little bamboo bridge to the restaurant there and found that the waiter didn’t speak much English and there was no menu. We were given the choice of fish, crab or shrimps. I really, really hate picking through whole seafood…I can just about manage whole fish but not ripping animals to pieces so we went for the fish.

Ah well, guess it got lost in translation. So Craig had a nice meal of crab and I had cold rice with soy sauce, yummy!

Trying to force a buffalo to eat some grass. It ran away. Perhaps it felt awed by the fashionable helmet.

We stopped at the Sunset Bar to watch the sun go down (surprisingly) and had a couple of Long Island ice teas, making us a little tipsy. The guesthouse was only a couple of blocks away and thankfully one of the bike’s lights was working (the front one, yay!) so we got back on it and giggled all the way home as the horn started working when Craig smacked the dashboard…and it played what sounded exactly like the Inbetweeners song, We Speak No Americano.

Back at the guesthouse we were invited for dinner because Craig had given one of the boys here his old phone after the one the boy had got dropped in the sea the day before. It was absolutely delicious – barbecued meat and vegetables dipped in a really spicy paste

I think the “Super Whiskey” we bought, mixed with Red Bull and M150 energy drink, local style, also went down well :) Paddy played his guitar

…nice end to a brilliant day.








27 Feb

Another couple of days have drifted by…we ended up keeping our motorbike for a few more days as it was so handy to be able to get around. A litre of petrol is 79p and the bike was £3.16 a day to hire. A tuktuk to one of the beaches costs £1.60 each way so it makes sense. Although we did hear about a Dutch couple who were kicked off their bike whilst they were going along so they could be robbed when they fell off. The guy hit his head hard and ended up in hospital. No driving at night down streets with no lights then.

– It’s been very hot as there is hardly any breeze so the sea is like a millpond and it’s boiling…the average temperature here is 30 degrees. At night it usually drops to a balmy 26 degrees. We’ve had to stock up on the factor 50 :)

– We went to see the monkeys at Independence Beach.

They hang around by the little banana stalls that have popped up along the road too. One of them was a bit vicious, hissing and showing his teeth to anyone who got too close. He stole someone’s trousers off their washing line, running up the trees with them over his head. He also jumped onto someone’s motorbike and bent the wing mirrors towards him so he could see himself in the mirror

– Lovely sunsets over Victory Beach

– Went to a different beach this time, Otres, so Craig, Mike, Ben and Andy could go kayaking whilst I stayed with the dog. Powdery white sand and turquoise clear water

Craig had a pedicure and foot scrub

Poor woman was there for hours…

– We went back to the row of little cafes with hammocks yesterday. I had beef noodles with pak choi and a fried egg on it. Yum.

After all the exhaustion of a day spent lying down, we ended up napping in our hammocks for an hour or two :)

– Went for dinner at Flame Bar in Serendipity which was lovely. We got talking to one of the waiters there who wants to be a doctor and because his father and grandfather were, but they were killed by the Khmer Rouge before he was born. Everyday reminders that it was so recent.

Apparently these are for customers at the bar

Not sure who would feel comfortable in a hammock that was two storeys up over a flimsy plastic lean-to :)

– D-day finally came and we gave away the second dog in six weeks, little Namnam. He made this job so hard with his puppy eyes

but he went off with Geordie for his check-up in Phnom Penh and lots of fuss from Geordie’s mum. I am sure he will be looked after but I miss him already though as he was so cute and improving all the time. Maybe adopt-an-animal will have to become a regular occurance whilst travelling :) However, the animals I have seen most of here are snakes. Snakes in the jungle, snakes at the guesthouse, snakes on the beach. Not sure how cuddly they are but armed with my Guide to Poisonous Snakes of Cambodia, I am determined to find out.

Sleepy in Sihanoukville

23 Feb

We have been doing so little over the last few days that it is almost shameful but it has been lovely and relaxing. So much so, I can’t really contemplate doing anything ever again.

–       Craig has gone fishing a couple of times in the morning and has befriended a Russian man who helped him catch a 30cm fish and a squid

 –       We moved out of our last place as we heard lots of reports of theft from the bungalows. It also might have had something to do with this

Frogs in the bathroom were fine but hairy six inch seven-legged (probably from all the fighting with grown men) spiders are Not Ok. 

–       Went to an open-mic night…to find that a Gary Linekar lookalike was the sole act and played mainly lift music

 –       Spent many afternoons on the beach, lazing in these giant chairs which once you’re in them, it is nearly impossible to get out of because they are so comfortable


…and in the rare moment of motivation where we thought we ought to get off our sunloungers and do something, we hired a motorbike and our friend Andy took us to a secluded beach – we were the only ones on it – with the dog.

Craig and I were chatting away, me with one arm holding the dog (conked out, lolling over my arm) and the other holding Craig, going about 15 mph, not thinking about what we were doing when we realised we must have Cambodians in a former life as we fit right in with the other crazy people on the roads here!

After two swims, we went to a beachside bar where they have hammocks. We ate (Craig’s grouper was caught in front of us, can’t get much fresher than that)

and then collapsed into hammocks for the hottest part of the day, listening to the waves and the fluttering of the Cambodia bunting they’d got everywhere, the dog on my lap…needless to say the next hour flew by as we all had a doze :) and then a swim. The owners’ three dogs thought this was a brilliant idea and jumped in to join us

Unfortunately all the swimming washed the suncream off and I am now a colour that I believe is most favoured by pillar boxes.

 –       Namnam continues to draw in just as much attention and love from strangers and is going from strength to strength. He now wags his curly tail (previously straight from not having the energy to keep it upright!), puts some weight on his bad shoulder and stays awake for more than 5 minutes after eating everything in sight

…and on that note, we have found a new home for him! We went to a bar, Space Cats in Victory Hill, for drinks and a really nice chilli burger, and the owner Geordie said he would be happy to take him on and look after him. Namnam is going with him on Sunday to Phnom Penh for another checkup and potentially surgery if his shoulder is as bad as the vet thought. Geordie is a lovely Canandian with a Khmer wife, a six month old son and a couple of cats. The bar has a big garden for Namnam to run around in and I am sure he will be spoiled by all the customers. Namnam met Geordie’s mum yesterday and I think it was a close call as to whether she was going to smuggle him back overseas! Hopefully he gets the all-clear from the vet’s and Geordie can take him on. We are really happy that he is going to a great home :)


20 Feb

We went out with Chris and a French guy, Edward, who was on our bus to Stung Treng, to say our goodbyes as he was staying in Phnom Penh. Edward was not my biggest fan because I accidentally moved his blanket off the seat he was saving, thinking it was the driver’s. He complained a bit about it so at least I got the chance to apologise :) Lost track of the time – realised it was 2.30am all of a sudden and we had to get the bus at 6.30am…ah well at least we’d sleep well on it! We were really sad to say goodbye as he’s been a) our saviour in times of desperate need (of cash) and b) a great travelling companion for the last week or so. It is a shame he’s got to go off to Korea to study rather than continuing to travel but I am sure that will be an adventure in itself.

We got the bus to Sihanoukville without too much drama with just the one wheel change this time. The dog, as usual, was impeccibly behaved and made us lots of new friends, including Ben, an Englishman who had resigned to come travelling. He last worked in mental health, has been in the forces and has travelled fairly extensively so is interesting to talk to. It is funny that it’s exactly the same as being with a puppy in England…everyone wants to talk to you – the Cambodians think you’ve nicked it ot think it’s hilarious/mental you’re bothering to carry round a puppy with you and everyone else wants to stroke him or take pictures!

We stayed in Serendipity for the first night, meeting up with our friend Andy on Victory beach, before heading over to where he was staying the next day as it’s cheaper and quieter. We’ve ended up in a similar set-up to where we stayed in Vang Vieng – lovely garden, basic bungalow (dog-friendly) and flowers everywhere. It even comes with a pair of frogs in the shower

I am much more of a fan of these guys than the giant evil cockroach in our last room. Bleurgh.

Sihanoukville is lovely. Really relaxed (especially where we are now), amazing weather and great beaches to while away lazy afternoons

and the sunsets are pretty awesome too

We’ve just spent today hanging out with Ben and Andy, lying on sunloungers or swimming in the sea, reading books and chatting with ice cold Ankor beer (60p a pint) with the puppy snoozing in the sand at our feet. Absolute bliss. I think it will be wash rinse and repeat for the next week or so…will try and not bore you all by more “and then we went to the beach and made like flat fish for 5 hours” stories :)

There is plenty to do here though if you’ve got the time and inclination. There’s a national park, a crocodile farm, monkeys on Independence beach (which we saw whilst driving to Victory beach…they take nuts out of people’s hands, so cute), sailing trips, islands…might be here for a while…

Namnam Chillmuoy

18 Feb

We got the bus to Phnom Penh the next morning with Namnam Chillmuoy (named by the group because of the white map of Vietnam on his bum, and Chillmuoy means cheers in Khmer) at 6.30am. We’d been told that the bus would take around 5 hours so we put Namnam in his little sling and sneaked him onto the bus. We needn’t have bothered because everyone on the bus thought he was so cute, including the driver.

He just about survived the trauma of the bus journey

…he slept pretty much the whole way there, waking up only to eat and to go to the loo occasionally when the bus stopped. Which it did a lot – our “5 hour” journey turned into a 12 hour marathon. For no particular reason – nothing went wrong on the bus – we just stopped to pick random people up and drop them off at their doors a lot. We were fairly glad to get off it as it was Japanese so the seats were made for tiny people and were very uncomfortable.

Craig, Chris and I went to a restaurant for dinner after we found a cheapish guesthouse ($12 – dirty towels and a four inch cockroach included at no extra cost). They were cool with the dog coming too

The next morning we went to the vets to get him cleaned up a bit and to see whether we can start the process of getting him rehomed with an expat in one of the cities in Cambodia (I think this is probably the best thing for him…even though he has enjoyed his first trek, bus ride, tuktuk journey and restaurant experiences). We’d heard about a woman who rehomes puppies in Phnom Penh but when we spoke to the vet she said the woman looked after 80 dogs, and he’s so small he wouldn’t get the attention he needs. I’ve posted on a couple of forums so fingers crossed we can find someone.

He seems to be getting his energy back :) and is very good in restaurants

I think we’ll take him to the beach in Sihanoukville tomorrow, feed him up a bit and then come back to PP or Siem Reap and get him sorted. I’d love to take him with us (Asia is completely chilled out about letting dogs in hotel rooms, restaurants, shops, buses etc) but I think the expense and hassle of getting him across borders/quarantine etc would make it quite a difficult task, as awesome as he is :)