Back to PNH !
Trip Start Jun 16, 2011
69Trip End Nov 10, 2011
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Where I stayed
Our driver was determined not to go over 2000 rpm so it made us feel quite uncomfortable when he was overtaking other cars or trucks... When another vehicle was coming from the other direction, instead of accelerating, the guy would actually slow down... As if to estimate the distance and see if he could make it... I promise you, that doesn't make you feel safe, not at all. But hey, tough, "malesh", all those Cambodians drive alike : badly, that is. They have no sense of one way streets, of stops, traffic lights (those are very scarce, and according to Darren, the Paddy Rice manager, the first one was built in PNH in 2001...), full lines, etc... Driving there can be a nightmare. And they have no sense of security either : I saw today a guy driving a car, with his wife next to him, holding their 1 year old kid on her lap, the kid playing with the windshield... Mmhhhh... Apparently, the law specifies now that you have to wear your seatbelt... But it still doesn't say that you need to also secure your kid in the back of your car... Oh, of course, I also didn't tell you that being two on a motorbike is the bare minimum... Three is more common and I have even seen four !
Anyway, back to our trip ! We stopped for lunch in a town called Kampong Thom in a restaurant filled with Cambodians... Instead of ordering form the menu, I looked at the various tables and pointed, to the local people's greatest pleasure, the various dishes they had on their tables and told the waitress I wanted this, this and that. I had a ball. Their chicken with ginger is veeeeerrrrryyy gingerish and I love it !
We hit the road again about 40 minutes later for another couple of hours... We stopped for a smoke in a village and I ventured out a bit to see the houses in the adjacent streets. Once again, people watch you, very amused. You are basically their highlight of the day ! They don't speak a word of english or French but still try to speak to you in Khmer, hoping you understand... Their attitude is awesome. I make eye contact with an old woman who, like many others I've seen, has her head nearly shaven, a bit like monks. She's visibly with her family, sitting outside in the courtyard, chatting. Her first reaction when she sees me is to smile and start talking to me. I join my hands to salute her with a smile. She then picks some fruits and shows them to me, still speaking in Khmer. At that point I don't know what to do... Is she trying to sell me fruit ? To give me fruit ? And she talks and talks and talks, as if I understood it all. I love this :-) ... Because she can see I am hesitating, she starts walking towards me and crosses this little dirt path... exactly when a guy is riding his bicycle... And he runs her over ! She falls down with a cry. You must realize, this old lady must be something like 70... At least. She's skin and bones, not much more and must be around 1m52 high. I start shouting, the guy gets off his bicycle and I'm already all over the granny, trying to pick her up... She's moaning a bit and, again, looks at me, starts talking to me, showing me where it hurts. And yeah, she's got immediate bruises all over... I feel soooooo bad ! Shit, shit, shit... Why didn't I walk to her straight away when she was trying to hand me some fruit ? Damnnnnnnnn ! Anyway, five minutes later, I am back in the car again and we leave... Not after I could witness how apologetic the guy was, how he made sure the old woman was fine, not after I saw her daughter put the "magic" oil on her bruises... I felt bad at least until we reached PNH.
We arrived at the Royal Hotel at about 5pm. Now, I know, I know, you're gonna tell me "backpackeuse mon cul !" (backpacker my ass !) when one goes in probably the most expensive hotel in the city BUT :
- why refuse a free hotel when daddy pays, knowing it's going to end soon and THEN I will be sleeping in ratholes for the next 4 months ?
- why argue with daddy who definitely wants a very nice hotel, with luxury rooms and 5 star yservice because that's what he's used to, that's what he likes and that's what he wants to remember PNH with ?
- why avoid the opportunity of sleeping in a hotel which was built in 1929, welcomed guests such as Charlie Chaplin, Jackie Kennedy and Charles de Gaulle ? It was also the favored place for most press reporters, who were enjoying their drink and cigar together, talking about the country.
Well, to say the least, a hotel full of history, with a beautiful decoration (which was kept as much as possible like it was originally made) and an amazing staff. Honestly, I know it's quite expensive (USD 230 per night) but you should try it, just for the thrill. I loved it ! My favorite hotel ever. Wait for the pictures :-)))))
For a change (hahahaha), we slept like babies ! Oh and now I know that I also got this from papa : he also can sleep forever if the bedroom is dark... Cool thing. We both love to be awaken by daylight, which is why we never close the curtains :-)))
Love, sweetness !