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Phnom Penh again

sunny 32 °C
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Day 32 - 18 March 2016

Returning to Phnom Penh

Feeling a little tired after the St Patrick's day festivities, we had a lazy morning having breakfast and getting our bags organised for the return trip to PP before we got on the bus at 130pm.
We went with Mekong Express this time as Giant Ibis were booked out but it was just as comfortable as the previous journey there.
We arrived in Phnom Penh just before 7pm and took a tuk tuk to our hotel, right after booking our next leg of the journey to Ho Chi Minh.
We checked into our hotel, that was owned by another french guy, surprise surprise, and we found a nice restaurant across from the hotel for dinner. The street that we were staying on was alot busier than the street where the V hotel was on our previous visit, as this was closer to the capitals major tourist sights.
We had a bit of craic with the waiter trying to teach him some irish words as we were waiting for our food and his pronunciations were pretty spot on.

Day 33 - 19 March 2016

Sightseeing in Phnom Penh

We headed off in the direction of Wat Phnom, a temple in PP city centre but ended backtracking almost back to our hotel to find a place for breakfast as there were very few places around.
There was a big clock located right below the temple set in the grass which was pretty cool, although it was 20 minutes slow.
We took a wander into the temple and around the grounds, spotting a few monkeys.
After indulging in yet another sugar cane juice, we took a tuk tuk to the Royal Palace, where the king of Cambodia resides but unfortunately it was closed until the afternoon.

We visited the National museum that had lots of artefacts found at Angkor and other historical sites around Cambodia. The french are currently very instrumental in carrying out archaeological digs in Cambodia and Japan are busy repairing the old temples and ruins.

After a siesta, which we are big fans of, we headed out for lunch and continued on to see the Cambodia/Vietnam friendship or Independence monument, which was built by Vietnamese government after Cambodian gained its independence from the french in the 1950s.
There was also a huge statue of the former king of Cambodia, King Norodm Sihanouk.

We found another nice restaurant next to the hotel on our street and then headed to the night market in PP which includes live music.
And so ended our short but memorable stay in Cambodia.

Posted by Ronantattan 18:26 Archived in Cambodia Comments (0)

Sihanoukville for Paddys

sunny 28 °C
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Day 31 - 17 March 2016

St Patricks day

After some more American pancakes covered in chocolate, we got back to Sihanoukville around lunchtime, after returning on the ferry.
We checked into our downtown accommodation and organised ourselves for Paddys day festivities. We went in search of an Irish bar that we found out later had closed down so we went to the Monkey Republic, which is an english bar that was pumping out irish folk songs and songs from Irish bands. There were only a handful of customers in the bar as we got a late lunch. After a few Angkors, we headed onto Mc Guinnesses Irish pub and restaurant.
The owner, from Dundalk was living in Cambodia since 2007 and was happy enough to continue living there, running his own business and a very successful one at that. I ordered the baby back ribs and Ciara a stew as we chatted with a few expats, mainly American with their Cambodian girlfriends/wives.
We also met an Irish couple that are now living in Liverpool who were on holidays for 3 weeks and they kept us entertained with their stories for a few hours. We joined them at the Monkey Republic for one last drink before we took a tuk tuk back to the hotel.

Posted by Ronantattan 18:21 Archived in Cambodia Comments (0)

Koh Rong

sunny 30 °C
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Day 30 - 16 March 2016

Koh Rong

Another bright, sunny and warm morning in Cambodia as we headed further west, across to Koh Rong, an island that is about 27km from the mainland, and another very touristy spot.
The bus took us from our guesthouse and dropped us off at the pier where we boarded a speed ferry. This took about an hour and half to get to our island, dropping passengers on Koh first.
We walked from the boat along the hot sand to Ty Tys guest house that was right on the beach and checked in. Like the majority of accommodations on the island, it was constructed of mostly wood with some galvanised steel roofing but is still quite a sturdy structure.
We headed out to one of the bars and got some lunch and intended to hang out there for most of the day out of the sun, but the beach was so tempting that we spent yet another afternoon chilling and relaxing on Koh Rong beach, gazing at the blue waters and taking it all in.
We had an early dinner and retired early as neither of us were feeling as good as we had on previous days and paddys day was the very next day.

Posted by Ronantattan 18:16 Archived in Cambodia Comments (0)


sunny 28 °C
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Day 28 - 14 March 2016

Head west to Sihanoukville

Very popular with backpackers is Sihanoukville and we headed off on Giant Ibis bus to visit it, our 3rd cambodian city in 3 days.
This bus journey passed off without any incident and there was no drama. We got to Sihanoukville in the late afternoon and took a car converted tuk tuk to victory hill to our guesthouse. There are various beach districts in Sihanoukville and Victory beach is one of them, though not the real crazy, busy one. The guesthouse was run by two french brothers who went there on a holiday and ended up staying. Everywhere we went on our trip so far, we met alot of french, both tourists and expats, obviously attracted to the laid back culture and the low cost of living.
Our digs was a 1 bedroomed bungalow on their site that had its own entrance and balcony.
We went for a stroll down to the nearby beach where we bumped into the spanish couple that had crossed the border with us about a week before. We swapped stories of our travels so far and then headed on down the beach to dip our feet in the nice, warm waters of the gulf of Thailand.
As it was getting dark, we got back to our guesthouse which had a really nice swimming pool and always up for an opportunity to swim in a pool, particularly one that is outdoors and is warm, I went for a dip.
We found a nice little restaurant that did incredible pizzas and soaked up the atmosphere of the Victory Hill beach area.

Day 29 - 15 March 2016

Chilling out at the beach

With sunrise at 530am, it is easy to wake up early which means that the day starts quite early in Asia. After a breakfast of baguettes and eggs, we ended up switching rooms for the 2nd nights accommodation. We were put into the huge room upstairs which had two double beds, a huge desk, two balconies and a huge bathroom, all for the same price as the first night.
We bought our boat tickets for the trip to the island the next day and headed off to Victory beach to just chill out on the beach for the day, our first day on a beach since our arrival. We decided to head up the road to Independence beach as this had a better reputation than Victory beach. We found ourselves two sun loungers and there we stayed for the next 6 hours or so, cooling down in the sea whenever the urge arose. We had some cool drinks and ordered lunch in between reading and sudoku. Even though we were mostly in the shade and we both had suncream on, the wind was pretty strong and we got a bit of windburn along with a tiredness that only comes about from the heat. Still, it was a nice, relaxing day, just what the doctor ordered.
On our evening walk to dinner, we bumped into daniel and sonia again, the spanish couple from the border, and we ended up having dinner together; green curry and seafood mix with noodles, at one of the local restaurants.

Posted by Ronantattan 18:14 Archived in Cambodia Comments (0)

Phnom Penh

sunny 33 °C
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Day 27 - 13 March 2016

The real capital, Phnom Penh

Just after 9am, a mini bus picked us up at our hotel to bring us to Phnom Penh, Cambodia's capital, and our third capital city on this trip.
The trip was a bit of a disaster from start to finish. Here is what happened. The bus filled up with passengers and drove onto Phnom Penh, with the driver driving as fast and as crazy as he wanted to. After our first stop, he managed to pick up another family of 4 who were trying to get to the hospital as one of the kids was very sick and kept throwing up on the bus. Nearly an hour later, the bus gave up the ghost and the engine cut out. We all piled out of the van as some local guys checked the engine, presumably for oil or to see if there was a smell of burn. With that, a few of them started pushing the van to kick-start the engine, and after three attempts, the bus was up and running and we all got back in. The drama was far from over at this stage.
Just as we were taking off, the kid got sick on top of a bag of something that the driver was delivering, and they got off at that spot. All was fine with the remainder of the journey, except for the crazy driving, for the next two hours until we pulled in for fuel and the van wouldn't start again. After attempting to kick-start it again, the driver decided to switch vans altogether and we moved our bags into the new van and drove onto PP.

We arrived about an hour and half later than was scheduled which was ok with us but Tom had rang his friend to collect us from the bus station and bring us on a tour around the city and he had been waiting for us all that time. Alls well that ends well and at least we got a story to tell at the end of it.
Mr Von battled through the bustling city traffic to drop off our bags at our hotel downtown before bringing us to the killing fields, 15km outside the city, where thousands of people were beheaded and killed in the late 70s, as part of the killings that wiped out generations of families (over 1 million people in just over 3 years) under the Pol Pot regime. The tour at el choeng was very emotional and really gave you a sense of what it must have been like for the poor families who were torn apart and destroyed by Pol Pots regime and the Khmer Rouge army.
Just like the killing caves, there were boxes of bones and clothing fragments around the site with lots of shallow graves and tiny fragments of bone. Inside the remembrance building, there was a floor to ceiling glass case of skulls, all colour coded by age group, sex and how they were killed. When visiting a place like this, one feels anger and sadness but also a sense of hope and peace knowing that the people behind all of these senseless killings are behind bars and that good always outdoes evil.
On returning to the tuk tuk, mr von told us his own personal story of these horrendous times. He had an uncle, cousins, and friends killed by the Khmer Rouge and some of his siblings were killed by napalm when the US bombed Cambodia during the Vietnam war.
He then took us on a mini tour around the city as dusk was approaching and we saw some of the sights by night. We stopped at a restaurant on the riverside for some dinner as we had only snacks during the day and Mr Won showed us pictures of his kids and various family weddings he had recently attended.
Exhausted from all the days goings, we headed back to the V hotel to catch our breath. It was dark when i went for a swim in the rooftop pool but we had an amazing view of the city skyline.
The room was pretty savage aswell as they had upgraded us to a suite, which is always welcome and the staff were incredibly friendly and helpful.

Posted by Ronantattan 18:12 Archived in Cambodia Comments (0)

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