Escape from Snooky

Trip Start Sep 05, 2005
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Cambodia  ,
Sunday, December 11, 2005

Alarm went off uncharacteristically early at the ridiculous time of 5:45am. Had a much need cold shower before lumbering to the bar at 6:05 to get breakfast. I had been told the kitchen opened at 5:45 but evidently not today as there was no one there. The moto drivers were also conspicuously absent.

Come 6:30 I was starting to panic! My bus left at 7 and there was no way I could afford to spend another day in this town. Thankfully one of the moto drivers turned up and I was safely at the station with time to spare.

Still couldn't see any shops open so no chance of getting breakfast. I was so tired that I managed to sleep the first 2 hours of the journey, until we reached the stop half way. Quite why they need to stop on a 4 hour journey is a mystery to me.

Decided to look at what food they had and decided against it. I don't do rice in the morning, especially not with some type of indiscernible meat. I settled on a malaria pill and a coke. It was only 2 hours more to Phnom Penh and I should have plenty of time there.

Realised I was actually sitting next to a westerner,the only other one on the bus so started chatting. Turns out that she was an American who had ben living in Cambodia for 4 years and ran an orphanage in Sihanoukville. She was off to Phnom Penh to buy presents for the 20 kids in the orphanage and her own kids! Rather her than me. She also mentioned that her 9 year old drives a motorbike round town. Would have surprised the hell out of me back home but I am so accustomed to seeing school kids riding bikes everywhere that I wasn't really shocked.

Arrived in Phnom Penh and found it very satisfying to be able to turn away the tuk-tuk drivers who were saying, "where you going?" by replying Siem Reap, which was the truth. Moto and tuk-tuk drivers are the same everywhere. If they see you with a bag they always say "You want guesthouse?". Without a bag it's always "tuk-tuk/motorbike sir?" first and "you want marijuana?" second. Although we did have a slight variation last night when one simply said, "lady?"!

I forgot to mention about the sellers on the beach in Sihanoukville. Whilst sunbathing you constantly get hounded by little kids offering you stuff. This is how a normal conversation would go:

Annoying kid: "Hey Mister, You want buy fruit salad?"
Me: "No"
Annoying Kid: "Why not?"
Me: "Because I don't want any fruit salad"
Annoying Kid: "Maybe later?"

This was also interspersed with people offering bracelets, seafood, massages and on one laughable occasion a painting that was terrible and probably took 2 minutes for the kid to paint. We tried stirring it up by varying our responses. One time we said we were allergic to fruit and would die if we ate it. They still said "maybe later?"!

Anyway back to today. Over at the ticket desk I managed to get a ticket on the next bus to Siem Reap, but it was leaving in 5 minutes! No time to get food so I jumped straight on the bus.

When we were in a chemists in Phnom Penh we had asked for a pack of Immodium and the woman had bought over a pack of Valium so we said, "OK, we'll take them but we want Immodium as well!". So as the bus ride was stupidly slow I decided to use one and sleep it off. Took 1 pill and fell asleep pretty quickly for 4 hours! Lars swears by them and I can see why!

During the stop along the way the food was particularly strange. They never sell normal food on there trips but this was different. I got offered the fruit, drinks and boiled eggs as usual but one type of seller never approached me once. They were selling bags of barbecued tarantulas! There were about 5 women carrying around plates pilled high with them but they wouldn't come within 10 feet of me. I quite fancied trying one as I felt left out watching everyone else chow down on the legs before devouring the body!

When I woke up I assumed we would have an hour left, turns out there were 2 hours left as I was on the slow local bus. Some guy came and sat next to me and started chatting. It was obvious he was a tout instantly because he kept pointing stuff out and then eventually asked to drive me round Angkor tomorrow by motorbike. I asked how much and said fine. I would need a driver anyway and he had saved me the trouble of finding one, and at the same price I was expecting to pay. He offered to take me to some hotels, obviously friends of his, when we got off and I had no problem with that. I had no particular place to go so why not have someone take me there?

I was the only foreigner on the bus so I got hounded the second I stepped off. Turned them away and got in mateyboys tuk-tuk. The first place they took me was this tiny guesthouse, that actually looked like someones house in the middle of nowhere, with wild dogs everywhere. They were also the grumpiest people I've seen since China, and I don't care how nice the room was, it was very good, it was too far from the main street. Told them politely that I wanted somewhere closer and cheaper and they shouted, "you'll be back here" as we drove away. That turned it into a personal challenge to stay elsewhere!

Next place was full but on the way I had seen net cafes with loads of foreigners so knew there were other places nearby. Ended up at the Green Town guesthouse. Far more the type of place I was after. Restaurant and travel services are the only 2 things I look for any more. They only had a twin room left but I got it for the same price as the first "hotel" so I was happy.

Decided to have an early one as I would be going to Angkor at 6:30 tomorrow so after dinner, some local dish called lotluk or something, I headed straight to bed.
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