5.40pm - Quadrilogy

Trip Start Jan 07, 2010
Trip End Dec 13, 2010

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Friday, June 11, 2010

Friday 11 June, 5.40pm, Orchidee Guesthouse

One day considering the noble past, the next back to the noisy present. My final morning in Siem Reap, I decided to indulge once more in my new favourite pastime, quad biking – I'd heard from a girl in Fiji that she did it in Cambodia, and she said it was really cool, so I figured what the hell, it’s cheaper than it was in Hawaii or Australia, and it’ll definitely be interesting to do it in a completely different landscape.

And indeed it was. I was with a sweet Aussie couple, Mai and David, who I instantly warmed to purely because Mai looked so much like Danielle it was almost eerie to hear her open her mouth and speak with a Melbourne accent rather than a Horsham (Crawley) one - although I’m guessing with a name like Mai, she was of Vietnamese extraction rather than Thai. Close enough. They all look the same anyway! *

So we had a bit of good chat about Oz, and I told them the story of Justin and his annoyance at my preferring Adelaide to Melbourne. They laughed heartily and then told me very mock-seriously I was a fool and Melbourne is clearly better. I like Australians. When it comes to falling easily into insulting-each-other-familiarity, they are the next best thing to northerners (closer, in fact, than Brits from other parts of the UK, who can be either too lairy or too prim).

We had a couple of hours of biking, which we spent driving mostly along backstreets and through tiny village centres. It was mental to see these palatial mansions built right next door to these places that were little more than shacks, but that was mostly as we were just coming out of Siem Reap (there was a lot of this juxtaposition on the bus from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap as well). As we got further out, it was mostly small but neat-looking wooden houses on stilts, maybe with a hammock or two strung underneath or between two trees. It actually looked pretty cool – during the day when it’s hot, people hang out underneath the houses, as it provides reliable shade, and a line of trees will define property lines without dividing people from their neighbours. The one- or two-room houses above are kept clean by everyone leaving their shoes at the bottom of the stairs, which is pretty common in Asia.

Every third house we drove past had at least one child outside, running up to the edge of the road to wave at us. Watching these massive red things vroom past is clearly the highlight of their morning. The cutest one? The little boy who was holding an enormous ginger cat under its front legs (think Michael Jackson holding Blanket over that balcony) with one arm and making it wave its front paw with the other. The cat looked mega resigned. Talk about adorable.

After spending a little time in a very bouncy and extremely fun field that was practically custom-made for quad biking, our two hours was up and it was time to head back to base. At the guesthouse, I packed up and brought my bags downstairs (with the help of a kind Dutch man who saw me about to try and traverse the extremely steep stairs – he clearly intuited my innate clumsiness and leapt into the fray insisting I let him take my big backpack). The next few hours were then spent in the most excellent way: drinking 60p beers, people-watching, and emailing Lowri. My plan was to basically get half-cut by the time my bus came at 8pm, because it was a sleeper to Sihanoukville. 10 hours in a confined environment is never much fun, but 10 hours overnight is just mean. Therefore, the drunker I was, the better I'd sleep. It was $8 for the bus or $15 to stay another night in Siem Reap and do the journey in the day, so I sucked it up and saved the time and the $7. Don’t worry. I shan’t spend it all at once.

After a semi-sleepless night (was sat next to some guy who immediately put his headphones on as he sat down – friendly, like – but he moved after we hit Phnom Penh and I got my two seats to myself so was able to curl up and sort of lie down properly), we reached Sihanoukville, the beach capital of Cambodia. Because it was only 6am when we arrived, I figured it would be too early to check in but I could go and snooze by the pool for a few hours if they had a luggage room. Even better than that though – they had a spare room off reception for just such an occasion, with a bed and a bathroom in it. I hadn’t even changed clothes since the quad bike, so I embraced the shower like a lover, and washed off all the dubious "tan lines" that had appeared on my arms and feet before gratefully collapsing on the bed.

* I’m not a racialist. I just like to say such things to annoy Dani, who is my extremely beloved friend. She’s fine with it, and gives as good as she gets. Don’t berate me.
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Jane on

This leg of your journey sounds fun - - more laid back and able to see the villages: my favorite part of traveling. Love the story about the boy and the cat a la Michael Jackson, Blanket and The Balcony. And the little paw waving: how precious. Also loved how the train interior looked w the red formica-looking paneling and the green "leather" chair... The gold blanket on it added to the crazy color scheme that looked appealing to me. Oh, you give me the travel bug. I've even pulled out one of my luggage/travel mail order books to see what I might need for my next unnamed excursion...the first step to actually planning something for me...

suzloua on

Well, everyone saw that footage so many times, it's an easy shorthand to describe what I mean - that arm around the top legs and letting the rest dangle down sort of grip. The cat was practically the size of the kid as well, because he was a very small boy and it was a very large cat. It was top.

The fabulous transportation above is a bus, not a train, but same diff. The blankets were wicked - they were fleeces, hung on every chair, and every single one sported a different but equally mental pattern. I was laughing with one of the girls on board about seeing who could find the ugliest one.

GET ON THE ROAD. Come and find me :D

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