Our time in Cambodia started off with a very long and boring travel day, it involved lots of waiting at the border from Laos and getting dropped off at random points of the journey to get on the next mini bus. I think one of the things I find most annoying about travelling is the waiting around for buses, hardly any of them are ever on time. But we did eventually make it to Siem Reap, and went straight to bed!
Our first impressions of Siem Reap were good, especially since on Pub Street they were selling beer for 50 cent a pint! We had organised with a tuk tuk driver to drive us around the Angkor Wat temples for eight hours, picking us up at 4:30am. That was a fresh start to the day seeing as though our natural wake up time these days is 9am! We headed off to Angkor Wat first to join the crowds to watch the sun rise over the temple, along with about a thousand others! But we knew this would be the case and weren’t bothered about getting the classic photo everyone was so eager to get to the front for. We beat the crowds by going to look around the temple before the sun completely rose and only a handful of people had the same idea as us. When we came out everyone was huddling in! I think by midday we had made it to about five temples, but we were so tired from all the walking and a bit over it by that point so we decided to head back to our hotel early. We were in desperate need of a nap!
Our next stop in Cambodia was Battambang, the night we arrived we booked tickets to see the Phare Circus which had been highly recommended to us. We had no idea what to expect, we just knew the performers were students at a Performing Arts school that would then move to the bigger circus in Siem Reap. This has been a highlight of the trip so far, the five performers were always either juggling, backflipping or joking around throughout the entire show, which was all made more intense by the live band. Even if they made a mistake it felt like part of the act. The next day we had a full day tour with a local tuk tuk driver, who acted as a tour guide as well. We rode on the bamboo train, occasionally we would come up to another carriage going the opposite direction and they would have to take apart the whole thing just to let us pass! It was a pretty packed full day, made so much better by our friendly driver telling us his personal stories of his life growing up during the Khmer Rouge regime and what dreadful things he saw at that time.
We then headed down to Phnom Penh, where we would be for the annual Water Festival! For some reason we thought it was a festival where in the city you have a massive water fight with everyone, turns out it was just a few days of boat races on the river. Still fun to watch for a little bit though. At this point in our trip we were getting a bit sick of the crazy traffic in the city and were really looking forward to the next week or so relaxing on the beach! We stayed in a beach hut on the beach in Sihanoukville for a few days. It was lovely to be only a few metres away from the sea, but that brings it’s own problems such as the room getting ridiculously sandy everytime you got in, every night before bed we had to spend 10 minutes trying to free it of sand! I also had food poisoning there and had three nights of sleeping with bed bugs. But it could have been worse! Our next destination was even more beautiful, we caught a boat to the island of Koh Rong and found ourselves a bed bug free room! The sea was so calm and clear, and we spent our days reading and trying not to get burnt. But even though we would thoroughly apply suncream, we still turned out red each day! We also travelled to the smaller island of Koh Rong Sanloem, which was much quieter and even more relaxing! We hired a kayak for three hours and paddled around the coast, but it is such hard work when you are going against the current! I admit that I did slack off and let Jack do most of the work, he did get a bit carried away and didn’t realise how fast he was going before we crashed headfirst right into the pier. I was wondering before we crashed why he was going so fast and not turning to go round it, right before we smashed into it! If you ever get the chance to float for a bit in the sea in life jackets, try it! We got tired and rode the kayak onto a beach and just sat in the sea for a bit floating around, that was my favourite part of the day!
Our last stop in Cambodia was Kampot, where we ended up spending five nights as we had to wait for our visas before we could enter Vietnam. The highlight was definitely driving up to Bokor Mountain, there were so many buildings that had been abandoned for a long time that we explored. One was a bit creepy, we kept hearing a dog barking outside the building but never actually saw it! Cambodia really opened my eyes to how people can go through such hard times and live in poor conditions and still find happiness in their everyday lives and be so welcoming to others. And of course with the beautiful islands that I really miss now we are in cold North Vietnam! I can’t wait to fly back to Thailand in a few days to try and build a tan back up!