…since we last posted, as we have been either travelling between Cambodia and Thailand; being ill with Malaria (bloody Cambodian Mosquitoes!); or having too much fun wandering in Northern Thailand.
We left the Angkor Wat temples behind in Siem Reap, and sadly (at the hotel) our little rescue kitten Rocky too…
…and ventured down to the coast of Cambodia at Sihanoukville, taking many mosquito bites with us because no matter how much Deet we used, it didn’t seem to work.
After a very bumpy 11 hour night ride on a bus there (pot holes in UK have nothing on Cambodia’s almost non-existent tarmac roads – think ‘muddy dirt track with 5ft wide holes’ in place of the A303 and you about have it), we quickly checked into our dodgy hotel for a well-earned sleep. It certainly didn’t match the description on the booking site, so we found another hotel 2 days later and left to take refuge there instead. The Small Hotel in Downtown Sihanoukville was the best place we could have found. Wonderful staff, lovely owner, and amazing food! A little oasis in the midst of a mass of pretentious Westerners.
We wandered down to the nearest and most popular beach area one day, Serendipity Beach – traumatised ourselves with the road leading to it, and almost passed out with shock once we made it to the sand. We stayed about 2 minutes – enough to see dodgy older Western men being very rude to female Cambodian staff in a pharmacy; lots of skanky women in very little clothing wandering up the street looking for some man to give them lots of attention; many men looking for an equally easy woman; and bars lining the beach playing really loud bad music, with all the pretentious traveller-types sitting in the wicker sofas and round chairs outside, waiting to see and be seen – definitely not our scene! We were also told by a lovely couple from the UK staying in the hotel, that they had seen an older Western man here offering young boys money for sexual favours, so this kind of tells you what it’s like there. (the boys were apparently about 8-10 years old, and there are many vagrants here who will do anything for money)
The hotel provided a daily tuk tuk down to Independence Beach (pictured above) where they also have a beach hut restaurant open during the day, so we took that and made the most of the much quieter sandy beach there – there were a few masseurs working on the beach, and people who sell street food, or offer beauty treatments while you relax, but they left you alone if you showed no interest. However, I did succumb to a pedicure on the beach here just before we left Cambodia (it’s cheaper to pay $3 for one, than to buy all the stuff to do it yourself) and I have to say, it was a bloody good one, as it lasted about 3 weeks with no chipping!
We also took a boat trip one day with the UK couple, across to the islands off the coast here (Sue and Lee were lovely and have done the same as us and sold off their stuff to leave the UK – their destination = Australia). It wasn’t meant to be a party boat but sadly due to the young crowd that also booked it, it turned out to be a sleeper boat for the first part of the trip (they were sleeping off their hangovers) and then a booze-vomit boat for the return journey…
The bit in between was spent with a snorkelling stop-off, lunch on the boat, unlimited tea/coffee, a stop at a beautiful beach for swimming…
and a river/mango forest trek….
The islands were amazing…we even watched hermit crabs under the clear waters, making their way across the sand leaving little trails behind them.
It was just a shame about the stupid travellers vomiting over the side of the boat after ‘beer snorkelling’ at the boat’s bar.
Shortly before we wanted to leave Cambodia, we went with an Australian guy Denis from the hotel, to watch the F1 in a local bar one Sunday afternoon (yes, I couldn’t resist finding somewhere to watch a race!)…both he and Rich ended up later that night (and lasting for about 4 days) with terrible sickness and diarrhoea from what we presume was dodgy ice in the drinks. This delayed both our trip and his for about a week.
After Rich was well enough to travel without needing a sick bag round his neck or a porta-loo strapped to his arse 🙂 we got on a bus bound for Bangkok, Thailand.
This was about 12 hours long, and we got to Bangkok at roughly 10pm on a Saturday night, but luckily the hotel was just across the road from the station and it’s probably the best nights sleep we had had in a long time – Lodge 61 has THE most comfy bed so far in our travels. Which I guess is probably due to having spent 6 weeks camping in UK, 6 weeks camping in Kefalonia, and 2 weeks in a not-so-great hotel in Siem Reap followed by a night-bus bed, which is kind of like trying to sleep on a constantly jerking plank.
Sunday morning, up and out to go and get the next bus from Bangkok to Chiang Mai, in Northern Thailand. Another 10 hour ride, and then add on the hour and a half of being broken down at the side of the road in the dark, somewhere…about an hour away from our destination. All credit to the bus driver and helpers, as they managed to fix the bus roadside, and get back en route.
At this point of arrival it was about 2am and far too late to turn up at the massage school where we had booked to do a Traditional Thai massage course for a month. So, the tuk tuk driver showed us some laminated flyers for several hotels/hostels and he took us to the one which looked like it would cost less than selling our souls to stay there. It was a dirty dump somewhere in the Old City (which actually is lovely, when you get to know your way around and see what other places are really like at a decent time of day and not when your eyes are propped open with matchsticks) and we had to sleep on top of the covers just in case we caught something! But as it turned out, for 190 baht (roughly £3.75) for the night, we couldn’t expect much! We kind of wished we had sold our souls…
…and we felt like it again after the 1st week in the massage school dormitories!!
We beat a hasty retreat to a monthly room in a hotel nearer to the Old City Chiang Mai gate, and heaved a sigh of relief at not having to put up with idiots opening windows at 2am and letting all the mozzies in! Or making a noise at 6am when others are still sleeping. Oh, or having to put up with a cold shower in the ladies.
We also, at the end of the 1st week, came down with what now appears to be Malaria…so we didn’t get round to finishing our massage course. Malaria is very on/off, so one day you feel ok, the next you can’t even get out of bed through nausea and lethargy. Not to mention what comes out the bottom end – and the symptoms go in cycles over the days. So, we are now on treatment for that and feeling much better 3 weeks later, even though some days are still ‘off’ ones. Apparently we have to take this treatment for a month, and then stay on it after that, to remain free while we are in the country.
Anyway, we have decided to stay here for Christmas, because this is now high season and getting a room anywhere else for a month is impossible – and that’s the cheapest way to rent here.
Now that we feel better, we are doing what we seem to do best – wandering aimlessly, finding unusual places and things, and taking lots of photos.
Oh, and playing badminton in the local park (above), which is really fun, and seems to be a popular pastime with the locals. They always laugh when they see us playing and we aren’t quite sure if its because we are ‘farang’ or just crap! lol
Feeding the fish here in the park is also great fun. Catfish!
And we also visit copious amounts of temples because the Buddhist energy is wonderful after the crush of the tourists in the busy areas like Tha Phae gate, where all the hostels are and which we try to avoid when possible.
We did also manage to take part in the Festival of Lanterns in November at a temple on the river Ping.
We launched a flower float into the river…
and a lantern to the Gods….it’s all thought to bring luck.
Such a lovely experience with the monks and the Thai locals, as we picked a temple which was away from the city, so fewer Westerners!
Yes, we are kind of unsociable with other western tourists, because that’s partly why we left the UK – we certainly don’t want to associate with them in another country unless they are like-minded and avoid most other people like we do! 🙂 The Thai people are lovely, will help with learning the language (which is very hard) and are also unsociable to most westerners…unless you show respect to them, which is inherent in their culture, and sadly lacking in most others. Oh and they like people who smile…which most westerners don’t. They walk around with really sullen faces and then complain when people aren’t very nice to them. It’s not called ‘Land of Smiles’ for nothing.
Anyway, update over – we are here in Chiang Mai now until January and then we will move on.