Hi from Phnom Penh

Writing this at 8:30 in an internet cafe just around the corner from our hotel, Capitol, in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

Picking up from where I left of from my last email a week ago, we set off Tuesday morning from Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam on a cheap tour package around the Me Kong Delta, southern Vietnam. A coach trip took us into My Tho for an afternoon cruising around a few islands on the Me Kong. A pleasant afternoon, but very well laid out as a tourist trap. Good to see a bit of the rural life out of the city all the same. Another coach trip in the afternoon to a town called Can Tho where we were ushered into a cheap hotel for the night. Lots of intrigued looks from the locals as we ate street food and wondered along the road for an evening walk. One chap offered me a drop of rice wine which went down very well. Although any further communication is futile due to the language barrier, so there’s not much stopping to talk to the locals.

Wednesday we set off in the morning by boat, making a few stops to look at a rice factory, a fish market and other touristy things. Then on the coach again to the border town of Chau Doc. A small and quiet town, we arrived early evening and found a small bar type place across the road from the hotel that seemed to be an extension to a family home but the people were happy to welcome us in and serve us up some food. New years eve was spent sipping beers in this place with Ben, alongside the locals. That is until 10pm when we had to be back inside the hotel or they would lock us out. So we headed to bed fairly early that night. No big count down or new year partying in Chau Doc that was for sure.

Thursday, new years day, we were on the boat again and visited a fish breeding farm and another village. Not quite sure what the significance of this was but just good to be out and about on the river. Then we changed to a larger boat and commenced our journey up the river and across the border into Cambodia. The boat journey and border crossing took up most of the afternoon, followed by another coach trip to take us into Phom Penh, the capital. We spent two nights here, looking around the Palace on Saturday and walking around. Then on Sunday morning we took a 4 hour coach down to South Western Cambodia to a beach resort on the coast called Shioukosville (I don’t know the correct spelling or pronunciation). We stayed in a cheap wooden shack above a bar right on the beach. Was very noisy at night but worth it to wake up to the sea on our doorstep. Another two nights here, giving us time to chill out and unwind. Very much an up and coming tourist spot with bars and restaurants and cheap accommodation littering the beaches. Yet still in parts untouched, and we were staying alongside mostly families of Cambodians who were themselves on holiday. Nice long beaches (although lots of litter), very hot weather, warm water. A taste of things to come in Thailand.

I most draw to a close because the internet cafe is closing. We got the coach back into Phnom Penh this afternoon, staying a final night here. Then tomorrow morning we are off to Siem Reap for a few days looking around the Angkor temples which are the main attraction of Cambodia. Very much looking forward to that. And then we will push on into Bangkok and Thailand next week.

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