From the border to Phnom Penh
December 27 at the end of day, we left the Thailand in the rain, to discover Cambodia with the return of the Sun. Just after crossing the border, the mountains and the jungle leave room for a large plain any yellow, beautiful with the return of the Sun! We view the landscapes will be further: rice paddies out of sight, where grazing cows and buffaloes.
A few kilometres from the border, one enters the city of Kaoh Kong. A border town not very interesting but which nevertheless allows to "get acquainted" with the country: it was introduced to the Cambodian movement, and we learn our first words of Khmer ("Hello" and "eat rice").
Through our SIM card for Internet seller, there is a small room for $ 5 night. Yes, the currency, talk in! The country's currency is the Riel, but history of a little complicate matters, at the same time they use the dollar. What make sometimes nodes in the brain at the time of pay!
First morning in Cambodia, hard to get back on the road. I plague not bad and takes the fly easily. Third day of recovery from our 'holiday', it is bound ptetre. It suits not when we arrive on a climb in Dodger full, very little shade and no wind to refresh the skin. It is 10: 00 and there is already at least 30 °. We stop to drink and cool down a little to almost all areas of shadow. Fortunately the traffic is low, and the trucks that go beyond us will barely faster. There are many taxis-brousse jam-packed: packages above, behind, everywhere where there may be a place; and we see people huddled between all these packages. Impressive! The rise subsides after approximately 10kms... It then enters the jungle, the air is cooler and there is more shade. The road undulates kindly, and it is a beautiful fairly new bitumen. We eat lunch in one of the rare place of the corner that we could eat.
Reinvigorated by this lunch we continue on this beautiful road. We are surrounded by this forest, mean birds, can be monkeys, it's pretty good, short, everything is better! In mid afternoon, we arrive at Trapeang Rung: it was decided to stop there for the night as the next village is 50 km. It landed in the Home stay village only: a traditional all wooden house raised with dogs, cats, chickens at the ground floor; When someone walks, it moves all over the House. It's very rustic, but it makes the charm.
After a morning wake-up to try to enjoy the cool of the morning, we continue our way through the jungle.
In the day, the road opens on a large plain of rice paddies. Superb images with Buffalo, White egrets, paddy fields and coconut trees. Thomas feasts for the photos.
The small villages of wooden houses raised, in the countryside will also appear. In one of them, means a class that account in English: "one, two, three..." We'll see! There's a course in English for the children of the village. The Professor is 23 years old and just out of the University, this is a course in addition to the school, and students pay according to their means. A nice meeting!
The evening is the village of Srae Ambel for camping. It goes to a temple. These are young monks, who are just happy to be able to practice their English with us. After a bit of amazement of our application, we have the permission of the great bonze sleep here; He insisted even that one sleeps in the prayer hall. We have more and more young monks around us watching us mount tent and want to discuss with us. It is a monastery school, the youngest were 12-13 years. We are surprised at their level of English: the best tell us to study it for 2-3 years and they have a very rich vocabulary! Decidedly Cambodians are better than the Thai to English! We will have up to 20 around us; Unfortunately we dared not too take photos of those moments.
It has long hesitated on the road to take. We were told that the Highway No. 4 was pretty unpleasant, but it was the promise of an evening of new year in Phnom Penh with known heads. The other solution we had been described twice as beautiful routes: down South Beach before climbing back to the capital from the East. Until the last moment we were hesitant... but chose option 1!
For almost 2 days in fact we had a road only 2 channels with a lot of trucks, many (many) sounds of Horn, and we had to eat a bunch of land each, when we were driving on the side of the road. But it was not so horrible that he had described us.
And without it, we would have not met the CycL' is : 2 french riders arriving from the North of the country. For 2 h, we have discussed with them, they gave us lots of advice for Cambodia: negotiate prices, learn some Khmer words... that's why we pay so much food! These two riders have a vision hyper positive and open; This meeting has been a small breath of oxygen and we will have restored the motivation to discover the country.
20 km later, the Sun begins to drop. At the exit of a village, we see buildings that resemble a temple. Approaching: "Military Headquarter". Thought not, but sleep in a Cambodian military base, ca is the challenge! Asked the guardian: made us to wait, it discusses, passes a call... and then made us to go! It is surrounded by 5 or 6 military, including an English translator and one which turns out be the head of the base. The latter finished by saying that it will be better in a room! Expected a little, because they no longer find the key: it's always ca when it comes to finding where to sleep: a game of patience! We find ourselves in a small apartment. The translator and a soldier with us, are discussed, and in time they spend the evening with us. The daughter of the military also joined us. At one point, they even asked Thomas to come with them to go buy a few beers, they will kindly make him pay. When you go to bed, they pose sheets and pillows on the ground in the living room to sleep! We realized then that at the moment it is returned to the base until it comes, we have not been alone in a single moment!
The next day we approach the capital! It feels good when late morning, skips in an industrial area: large hangars aligned next to the main road, factories of fabric, clothing... It is 11 h, people leave the factory all at the same time, break for lunch: one feels in a film of the 1950s on the workers.
The corner is quite poor, it's weird to feel really in a developing country. But the poor in money are often the most rich smiles: at lunch, barely was out a few words of learned Khmer Eve received big smiles and addition price decreases.
Traffic intensifies gradually; Fortunately the road widens a bit also! I am quite excited to return to Phnom Penh to bike. It sounds crazy! In the city, traffic is fairly sporty: many motorcycles and some cars. But one understands quickly how to do. And finally, the more complicated is to manage the cars that tend to believe above all. In short, it's fun to lead there in and arrive without difficulties to find a guest house for $ 8 night.
We then come to Phnom Penh this Tuesday, December 31 to celebrate the passage in 2015 with other backpackers, James and Andrea, our friends at Koh Chang. The evening is very lively, between tour of bars and fireworks on the banks of the Mekong. It was great to be able to celebrate this new year with people who look like us. It's nice to spend the new year with friends!
We took days to rest and visit the city. We made the request of our Vietnamese visas, we recovered the following Tuesday, and we had to leave on Wednesday. It is the eve of retrieve our passports only We were knocked over by a scooterwhich forced us to stay until Saturday. A week and a half in Phnom Penh, it seemed an eternity... but hey, that's also the vagaries of the trip unfortunately.
Phnom Penh, we therefore visited...
-our favorite is the Orussey market. A real local, market no tourists here. On the ground floor the food stalls, colors, odors, it is teeming with world. Outside it were impressed with the part fish and poultry market: the beasts live and those suitable to be eaten mixed together in a joyous mess; sensitive souls refrain!
The floor of dozens of vendors of beautiful evening dresses, and seamstresses who work on-site. But also fabrics, clothes, shoes... In short I believe that one can almost all found at Orussey, and a very nice local atmosphere.
For lunch, there are even a variety of dishes on the top floor.
-central market: very modern, well lit, clean. It is clearly for the tourists. But it's nice anyway, in this huge modern building created by a french architect who has paid attention to optimize the structure for light and heat. It has been a few races, it was the event of the day to buy a t-shirt and shorts: it's been so long!
-other markets are less worth the, has passed them more quickly (market old market Russian)
-Tuol sleng genocide museum (S-21): a high school in the city centre where the Khmer Rouge imprisoned and tortured opponents to the regime or intellectual. A very impressive place: photos of missing people, paintings of torture, guarded place in the State, with cells built in former classrooms. This place is very important in history. It must continue to exist they do not forget. (More on the history of the country, see the country sheet). A must if you go to Phnom Penh (but do not go one day where you are a little depressed!)
-national museum: Cambodian art for centuries. In addition, we had the chance to follow a part of the visit in french from one of the curator, to his friends! A mine to know this guy!
-It has not visited the royal palace because after that of Bangkok, we were told that it was worth moderately. But we loved walking around the corner, at sunset. arise on the esplanade of grass outside the Palace and have the impression to be summer on the champ de mars in Paris, with monks and more!
-Was much assumed the Tuktuk for destinations a bit far; and especially a few days after the accident where I could not walk. It is necessary to negotiate, all the time.
-the motorcycle once, both on a motorcycle taxi.
-on foot: stroll and feel live the city. Do not hesitate to get lost a bit in the streets, but it is not at all suitable for pedestrians! Nonexistent sidewalks, heavy traffic: it's not easy.
-on has stayed 2 nights in a Warmshower: a young dentist here in Phnom Penh. Very nice. Then it was no longer available, then the other nights were in a guest house for $ 8 night. For any passenger: 111 Street is packed with guest houses not very expensive!
-It's worth getting up early sometimes: one day around 7: 00 one morning, we went on the independence square. It's crazy! Lots of people walking around the place, and even gym or thai chi classes. At 7:30, Parkes, everyone disappears to go to work.
-Unfortunate episode to the Barber for Thomas! A nice big beard, he wanted just to shave the neck and equalize everything. Misunderstanding with the Barber (who spoke no English): result, a shot of lawnmower in the full beard, that the Barber has equalized then somehow. A Barber who did not used to have beards in the hands, the height!
Striking things these first weeks in Cambodia
-motorcycle and scooter everywhere: do not stop when you want to cross but advance gradually, and it happening. And they learn to drive early! We saw young people from 12-13 years all alone on a scooter. The helmet? Optional! Sidewalks? Non-existent car used to make parking, restaurant terrace, or storefront shops: was a little the case in Thailand, here is worse.
-Need to negotiate the price, all the time. Very rare times the price are marked. In the countryside, know a few words of Khmer allows to easily reduce prices, and also have more smiles. Phnom Penh, life is more expensive, more difficult to really negotiate. It seems sometimes normal for people than the barang ("alien" - the word farang Thailand turned into barang here) pay more than local.
On the side of food:
-in all the restaurants, even ephemeral restaurants on the sidewalk: on the table is a pot of tea, hot or cold. You can drink without fear of the shot, since the water has been boiled! Cutlery, them, are drenched in boiling water in a glass on the table.
-the cubes: products in the factory, as in Thailand! We continue our cure for (condensed) milk coffee iced and iced at table teas. There's also the cane juice sugar pressed before our eyes. It's not bad!
-restaurants are often open only part of the day: either noon or evening. Suddenly the streets do not have the same appearance depending on the time at which it passes!
-There are people more "rascals" in Thailand. It can be tiring sometimes. We feel that some are trying to take advantage of our white and the image of "wallet on legs" heads they must have...
"- However, when driving, all the children make us great"hello"or good bye", and those who speak a few words of English are happy to come and discuss a little with us.
-dress side, it's pretty funny: great fashion among women is a set that resembles a pair of Pajamas for us! Pants and long sleeves in typically flowery and colorful cotton t-shirt.
-for us it is very hot! But for them it is winter: it is not uncommon to see walking around with hats and scarves in wool! It is hard to understand how they support!