Thursday, 31 March 2011

Cambodia – The Tourist Trail

In Asia I've seen a lot of inefficient methods and illogical procedures, our journey from Siem Reap to Battambang was no exception. We were collected from our guesthouse at 7am, taken by mini bus to a travel agents in town, hung around for 30 mins, hopped on a small coach which took us to the bus station out of town. We were then loaded onto our coach which went back to town where we had waited for the small coach and didn't leave town till about 0930, what a palarva.

In Battambang we are hounded by tuktuks drivers all trying to get our custom giving us the best price. Considering its Cambodia's second biggest city its not run by tourism, the main reason to stop here was to go on the bamboo train which shortly won't exist as they want to build a high speed link connecting Thailand.





It's a set of wheels laid onto the rails, a square bamboo decking ontop and a small engine to power it. They can, and are taken apart very quickly as we found out when we bumped into another train going the opposite direction. It was quite amusing having to get off whilst they sorted out who's going where. At the end you get to walk around the village and see a clay brick factory, I got speaking to a lady who showed me round her house, it was interesting seeing how they live. After walking around we got the train back and that was Battambang, which by the way means lost stick, done.

We stayed one night and caught a bus in the morning to Phnom Penh, Cambodia's capital. It's rather quirky and chilled, Matt and I spent the whole day walking around town getting a feel for the place. Rather amusingly we saw two boats on the river, one massively loaded down looking like it should sink and a similar model without any cargo, see pictures.

[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="240" caption="Phnom Penh normal boat"][/caption]

[caption id="" align="alignright" width="240" caption="Phnom Penh overloaded boat"][/caption]







We hired a tuktuk for the day (from 11am $10), split between 5 worked out rather cheap. We covered the Museum, S21, Choeng Ek Killing Fields and the Russian market. S21 was rather moving and had detailed literature, a former school turned into a prison/torture/interrogation camp for the Khmer Rouge regime. The Killing fields were out of town and as the name states where they took people to kill then bury. There were massacres throughout the 70's and some of the people responsible are still awaiting trial. The leaders who believed in agrarian communism killed around 2 million, mostly educated and intellectual elites of an estimated 7.1 million population.

Our last stop was Sihanoukville, Cambodia's beaches which are meant to be lovely but due to the weather we had a tinted view on the place. We ended up only staying 2 nights as both days were cloudy and or rainy. With the weather as it was there isn't much to do, Matt and I found a gym was had novel factor as I hadn't been to one since leaving home. We then caught a sleeper bus, with the smallest upright seats to Saigon, or now known as Ho Chi Minh City, our first stop in Vietnam.

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