The long road to Phnom Penh

Trip Start Oct 04, 2011
Trip End Nov 29, 2011

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Thursday, October 20, 2011

Went from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh by road today - seemed a good idea when we booked it but am not too sure I’d do it again. The driver and guide were in a hurry to get there as they had to get back to Siem Reap the same day (even though we’d paid for them to stay the night in Phnom Penh) so we didn’t like to ask them to stop for us to take photos on the way and only had three very short stops during the whole journey - got a lot of knitting done though!

Before we left the Siem Reap area we went on a boat on Tonle Sap. This is a lake which in the dry season is about 900 square miles in area and 1.5 metres deep - but in the rainy season its 46,000 square miles and 15 metre deep! The river that flows through it eventually flows into the Mekong at Phnom Penh during the dry season but during the rainy season the flow reverses and the water from the Mekong flows back up the river to the lake ( I think!). There are two sorts of village on the lake - ones where the houses are built on stilts which are on dry land during the dry season and in 10m of water during the rainy season; and floating villages - which are basically a series of house boats which are towed about the lake wherever the water is deepest. The only way to get from house to house during the rainy season is by boat. The children go to a floating school and can only start attending when they can swim. We saw the “Ice Man” delivering ice to fishermen to pack their catch in - he had blocks of ice packed in sand on his boat and washed the sand off with water from the lake, put the block in a machine which crushed it and then gave a sack of crushed ice to the fishermen.

The road to Phnom Penh (the main road in the country) had cows and pigs tethered on the edge of the road as the fields were flooded on each side - people were in boats in the fields and were fishing. There was also a Red Cross tented camp for people who had been flooded out of their homes.

One of our stops was at a market selling tarantulas, crickets, frogs and various small birds - all deep fried! The other was at a local market where there were a lot of dressmakers with really old treadle sewing machines. I stopped to look at one of the dresses and the stall holder told me in sign language that the dress I was looking at would fit a small size 10 - whereas I was enormous and had no hope of getting in to it !

Are now in Phnom Penh and its thundering and lightening and the rain is torrential!
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Linda on

There's an ad on TV at the moment of a man catching insects in your part of the world, cooks them, puts them on skewers and sells them - he puts hundreds and thousands on them for a little girl to eat - PLEASE DON'T TRY THEM!!!

Julie on

Go to the friends restaurant if you can - food was delicious, especially Cambodian curry yum!

Emily on

All these markets with frogs sound like my worse nightmare! At least these ones were deep-fried...

Peter on

What's wrong with hundreds and thousands?

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