Kids, Caves and Palm Wine

Trip Start Sep 30, 2005
Trip End Sep 01, 2006

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Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Hello All,
How are you? How's life? How's everything?

After Shihanoukville Danny and I headed East to the sleepy little town of Kampot. According to the ticket guy you can normally fit 8 people in a normal 5 seater car which we are still contemplating the logistics of. We decided however to pay the extra for the back seat to ourselves with bags. A bit of a cop out I know but it sure beats the bus! On the way there two people were in the from seat next to the driver and did they look squashed. The drive was comfy and beautiful but as usual a white knuckle ride due to the speed. Once there the driver takes us to his friends guesthouse, which we were kind of expecting so we stayed there one night and moved to a much nicer place for the same price the next day.

Near kampot is Bokor Nationl Park, very beautiful with an eery deserted hill top station (another place ruined by the Khmer Rouge) at the top. The road to get there is un-doubtably the worst road I have ever been on (I know we say this every time). Driving along it felt like being in a washing machine without the softener and to make it worse I had the broken seat! By the time we got to the top every muscle hurt and there wasn't even a view as the place was covered in fog! There was according to our guide along with the un-seen amazing view loads of Gibbons as well. He made us (there were 7 of us in the mini bus) all put our hands behind our ears to listen to them. Although it really did work I'm sure he was only saying it to laugh at how stupid we all looked. Back into the minibus again and after sneakily swapping seats with Danny for the next bit we drive (or tumble)for an hour more. We then hike to the old casino. This is equally eery especially when our guide says lots of people jumped off the top after too much blackjack debt, really didn't like the basement. We had a quick dip in the 'rapids' which were not quite but so refreshing followed by an 'Apocalypse Now' style boat trip down the Mekong - stunning.

To see the rest of Kampot and Kep (tiny town near by)we went with two guides on bikes. I say guides but the guide shope was a tiny shack with a list of what you could do drawn on the wall. After signing up we were not even sure if they were going to turn up. As it turned out the guides were great and even came to say goodbye to us the next day (and keep kissing Danny on the cheak). On the tour we saw two caves where people kept pointing out elephants and crocodiles made out of stone (at a stretch) and also a pepper, mango and durian plantation. In the farm we kept being given the different coloured seeds to try but there is only so much raw pepper you can eat! The second cave was right next to a school so we stopped for a drink and watched the kids playing. The girls were doing amazing gymnastics with a piece of string and the boys were gambling for 100r on the 'kick-the-flip-flop' game. Not sure what this says for the next generation?! It was really great to watch and they were really facinated by us, not as much as by the ipod and digital camera though.

The guides also took us to try some of the local Palm wine where huge jugs of this warm cloudy almost milky (very tasty once you get used to it) wine is sold from people's homes. While drinking the wine the guides kept singing and trying to get us to sing back (not happening) and putting business proposals to us for setting up a bar or restaurant!

We also agreed to visit the Kampot school at the end of the day to help with the English class there for half an hour. The thought of standing up in front of loads of kids terrified me but after the first 5 mins it was fantastic. Danny and I arrived, met the teacher and the 15 or so kids aged around 10. After we are introduced to the class the teacher hands us a booklet and says you teach the class! Danny and I look at each other bemused thinking why did we agree to this! The kids were great though and after a while we were writing on the board and getting them to stand up and answer the questions! (One thing I hated at school!). We went through countries and asking questions with Danny trying to corrupt young minds telling them how England was the best! Then went onto animals. They were struggling with cat so I drew a picture which worked except Danny kept writing hard animals so I would have to draw them! After an hour the class finishes and I breath a sigh of relief, the teacher then says he has another class if we want to come. Great! This class was much older and after 5 minutes another teacher asks for one of us to help with another class. Danny goes and I'm all alone! This time the teacher gets them to come to the front of the class to ask me questions to practice, again lots of fun after a few minutes. Danny and I both got asked if we were married and for our telephone numbers and he got asked to sing again! He also got asked his religion and had to explain Atheist to the class!

Four months into travelling and there are definitely a few changes;
Our feet are exceptionally brown with dust and only show their true colour for 10 minutes a day after a shower.
We stopped using toilet roll as squrty thing is much better.
A five hour bus trip is a short journey.
We are able to laugh at the first rip-off price offered and walk away.
We never shake hands or exchange money with the left hand even when we can.
We can get stuff out of the bottom of the backpack without moving anything else.
Pack in 5 minutes.
Our English is getting worst and worst.
Now we can convert money between five countries (Kate almost)
And finally we are both content to be sweaty, smelly and filthy all the time!

Take care everyone and keep in touch xx
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