From Diary 7 and the wild
south-east , it is now time for the central part . |
22/1 It is a cold (22C) and especially windy morning, and it is time to leave the highlands. I head for the larger city of Kampong Chaam, around 260 kilometres west. The first part of the road is mountain with forest, and that causes for several botanical stops. Then again, the wind might cause branches to fall, and the wind is especially strong today. Further more, I have done this stretch before.
In a matter of fact, the first half of the tour is back to Snuol, and it is lined with pockets of forest in the canyons, huge yellow fields, pine trees and some other plantations. After Snuol, it is mainly plantations until I reach Memot, then the lowland starts with its rice field plains. And if the landscape raises just 150 metres, the plantations take over.
I do a breath stop in the little town of Chumni. There is one new thing at their small market; frogs. The next stop is Memot, which is almost a town, although the fields starts behind the modern houses in the main street. It is a red-dust area, and the old houses are just red.
I find a panis (half flute) and get them to add honey. They not only fill it in, the glazes the bred, and finally fill it with condensed milk. After a tour on the coals, it taste great, almost as the Danish pastry; Borgmesterstang! I do a walk in the central part of town, but here are no now sights.
As I head on, I have to pass quite some mini-busses with thick boards sticking out in the back. Most have more than half outside the car! Another have four mopeds sticking out the back. A third one of the passengers. They are all pulled over at a police check-point - and straight out on the road again. I wonder what you have to do to get in problems?
The endless plains with rice take over, only
interrupted by quite some towns, if the terrain raises just a bit. I
drive right through, figuring Kampong Chaam will offer it all.
The river is narrow here, not more than hundred metres, while it is half a kilometre wide around the bend. There is not really much to see within the river, and I head into the market area. On the way, I find a Lipton tea with condensed milk and a menu card with vegetarian dishes. And they send 70-90% of the money back to the producers, while the rest goes into education. Gota eat here!
The market is quite clean, and here are all the usual goldsmiths, textileshops, plastic household, cosmetics, women's beauty-saloons, small restaurants with local food, fresh and very dead fish and other seacreatures, fruits and vegetables, chopped-up mammals and for once; medicine plants. I even find the antplants sliced into thing pieces. Then, just before five, the market start to close down.
I see several of the central streets, with the
shops, the almost colonial houses and the local people. Here is a bit
calm, but it is Sunday afternoon, late.
I pass the partly open night market along the
river, and on the square in front of the market, but only a few stands
are present. To judge from the ground, there use to be way more.
The few photos of the day go all into the general photos of central Cambodia. Somehow, I have lost time, and it is only nine, when I finish work. Strange??? I read a bit of the coming day's sights, and then start accounting - that will last the entire evening....
For once, I get muesli and yoghurt for breakfast and with Lipton - the
best (only proper) tea around. Great start on the day! Then again; the
car refuses to start, and I have to tickle all the plugs I can find, to
get it on better ideas.
Here are only a few larger villages, but
farmhouses are found almost all the 110 kilometres up the Highway 6.
Out on the highway, I find another new item: The
police do have lasers! I could have done without that! Well, I think it
is a 60 km/t, and I was only doing 50 km/t, mainly because of the one in
front of me.
I reach Kampong Thom before noon, and drive straight to the river Stung Sen. Here are several large guesthouses, and I find a nice room, right next to the river and market. It is a pretty new and clean town, with huge trees and wide roads, but no tourists.
set out to find lunch, I find a stall with Ground Crickets, scorpions,
bird-spiders, Great Diving Beetles and huge cockroaches. All prepared
for eating. Pity I'm a vegetarian, but I find some pain with honey and
city seems rather new, but some houses seem really old, and they are
mixed with the new ones. Along the river are a line of post-houses, and
there are green ponds within the centre of town.
I find an extension the the market with mainly
fish. One shop have also snakes. What appears as adders and mixed
snakes. Raw, but you will get a recipe. I do with a fruit shake.
The "pizzeria" have no pineapples, and the Hawaiian without ham too, sounds a bit doll. The fried vegetables with cashew nuts - without cashew nuts even worse. I am so much looking forward to either my own cooking or at least a proper restaurant!
The few photos from Kampong Thom. The rest go into the general tour.
24/1 Despite I got a $6 room and paid
additionally $4 for the hot shower, I don't get any. I try to explain it
to them, but give up. While I eat my breakfast, I watch the local news.
I don't understand it, but I find it conspicuously that every time the
new American president; Trumph gets on, the commercials on the bottom on
the screen is for Paracitamol?!
It is lowland with its rice fields, all over the low plains. Several larger tows are found along the route, but I have see enough of these by now. I get by all the police's stops unattached, and enjoy the driving. I cross the new and large Prek Kdam Bridge, and reach Phnom Penh at noon.
I do a short walk around, but here are no hotels, and
I want my bag stored in a room, as well knowing here actually are a
A single woman offers me a boat tour into the river, and I remember her
Many of the houses - if not all - continues out in the swamp on posts. The shops are hardware, household, moped repair and new ones and alike. The sheets on the other side is mainly vegetables, fruit, weavings, live chickens and ducks, dead mammals, fish in all stages from alive to rotten, and clothing among much more.
One path leads into a dock-area, and it seems like a
cheap place to live. I try to capture the atmosphere, and return to the
road. While I try to find lunch, the woman offering boat tour is back,
and why not?
The fare side of the river is real green and only a few huts are found on the banks. Further up, the house boats are also found here. In the distance, a small, green mountain towers the plain. The locals transport them self in small boats. Some with tiny engines, some with V8. The latter only touch the water with around 10%.
The house boats have all kind of purposes. Some are shops with beer, some fishermen's "factory", some just for living with nice flowers and all. The tend to have a room north and a porch, taking up the better part to the south. And a small sheet downstream for personal matters. Some look like normal houses, some like the farmers sheets.
Many are rather colourful, non are really well
maintained. They seem to be build on a bigger boat, added some bamboo
bunches and fitted with timber. Most places, there are around 7-10
houses in each line, heading out from land.
We do the eastern part down, and the overgrown trees on the banks make a great background. Here have been so many great motives, but my photos are disappointing. I guess it is the entire collection of houses that does it. And when I get more on, one can't see what it is.
Back at land, I head further out the road to see the post houses and the ferry I spotted from the river. They look so photogenic, though I would not like to live in one. The ferry area is real busy. Here are fish sold along with most else. The women are sitting playing Chinese cards, and they are really engaged!
head further out the dusty trail, the post houses are in general made of
sticks and palm-leaves. I still look for lunch, but the few places that
sell food, are not really tempting.
When I return to the car, a find a pain with
honey, and call it lunch. Then I drive back to Kampong Chhnang,
just to see it and especially locate a restaurant for later.
Chhnang have a bit of a colonial vibe, and if it had cafes and
restaurants, they might get tourists. The floating city of Phoum Kandal
ought to draw some here from nearby Phnom Penh. I think I am at the
nicest hotel in town, and they don't do toilet paper. Tourists can't be
common around here!
At six, I try Kampong Chhnang's tiny night market, and
I find some deep-fried rice balls with vegetable filling and an egg.
Actually quite good. A cup of ice-coffee end the day, then it is back to
While planning tomorrow, I realises I might have to head into Phnom Penh by now. I have a rescue zoo and two market I want to see, and I have to return the car - and find a flight in three days.
25/1 By accidence, I get a look at the left rare wheel. It apparently drive in an angle, and it grinded to the steel in the inner side. It will explode anytime now, and if I were doing any gravel-roads, I would exchange it with the spare. But I'm only looking at 200 kilometres sealed by now.
Not surprisingly, it is hard to find breakfast
without meat. I finally find a stand with bread and vegetables too. I try to
explain; I don't want the sausages, and she warms up the flute, and bring
me a plate with vegetables and sausages. The flute have been filled with
minced meat sauce.
The road towards Phnom Penh is familiar in the beginning, and the rest is just the usual rice patches and small towns. I had planned to do a bit of a de-tour to avoid Phnom Penh centre, but the road have been dug up on around 70%, and it make a slow progress. I return to the great highway.
Well, it stay that for some time, but then it is being renewed, and it is a narrow dirt-road with too much traffic. I passes a few road stalls with the Chinese New Year trees: Branches of trees and bushes that will sprout or flower soon. And I see more examples of how bad animals for slaughtering are being treated. Ducks and hens are hanging on mopeds, their heads touching the exhorts pipe or the sealing. One minibus have a bunch of hens and a bunch of ducks hanging outside the car. It is so cruel!
As I reach the
traffic jam in Phnom Penh a warning light pops up on the
dashboard, and I can't figure its meaning. Check the rental company's
location; 1,9 kilometre away. I might as well go bye them. It take a
hour, and thinking about it; I can do without the rescue zoo. I hand in
the car three days before time, but I won't be using it, and finding a
place to park is truly a challenge around here.
The Russian Market is just around the corner, and while walking there, I look for a guesthouse, a hotel or alike. Accordantly to the tuck-tuck drivers, there are none, and they might be right. I have to see the huge market with my back-pack on.
I guess if this is the first market you see, or
you have a truly extended family to buy souvenirs for, it might be
interesting. I have see more interesting markets, and I have the
souvenirs I need.
It is in the middle of the back-packer area, and I do some walking in the streets. I manages to find Lipton tea and a pizza for later. A tour down to the boring river and through the Ounal Om Pagoda. A small marked is nothing special, and the shops in the aria either. I guess I have seen Cambodia by now. I do find a T-shirt without printing to replace the one who bye now is more holes that fabric. Icebreakers are great to a point, then the disintegrate rapidly.
Back at the dorm room, I have a long chat with a Canadian, teaching English in China. I find my vegetarian pizza, which is real good. Back at the room, I have another chat with a English girl for even longer. She have been around in parts of Africa I haven't.
Out to grab a cup of tea and a diet bisquet. I guess something went wrong in translation: I get the tea but also a thick pancake, soaked in Malibu and topped with generous vanilla ice and pineapples. As the polite guy I am, I just eat it without complains.
The guy drinking beer at the next table is a English brick-layer, who have travelled quite the same countries as I, and we chat till after midnight - and closing time. And then I have to sneak home to get the computer and finish the work of the day on the balcony, offering a view over a huge part of the town.
26/1 As the original plan was to do, what I did yesterday, I just get a real slow start on the day. Accordantly to other back-packers and the hotel, there are really only two sights worth seeing around here: The Killing Field and the Shooting Range. As I have a no interest in wars, I skip them.
I pass through the large Ounal Om Pagoda complex again, and find an ancient hall, with beautiful paintings on the walls, tall pillars and a bunch of old Buddha statues. The real special is: None of them have the annoying LED light coming out of their heads. I sit there for some time, listening to an old monk talking to other monks.
As I head on, the new and huge Psar Thmei market turns up. The central dome is said to be the tenth biggest in the world, and the entire market is actually impressive. It is light, clean and huge. The areas are still partly defined, with raw food, foot court, hardware, textiles, flowers, shoos and bags, jewellery, Chinese New Year stuff and way more.
I find significantly more "tusks" here, and get confirmed; it is actually stag-horns from huge deer - but they don't tell that. I am looking for shoos for the colder Taiwan, and find some reasonable ones. And without any proposes, I find an egg sized elephant in bone, which I accidental buy.
Back to re-group at the hotel, and down in the lobby/restaurant to work until dinner. My roommates returns from the Killing Zone tour - fare from amassed: Hot, too much information, boring.
The Chinese New Year actually starts this evening,
and last five days. Cambodia only have a minority of Chinese who
celebrate it, where other Asian countries treat it as a combination of
summer brake, new year, Christmas, Easter, spring brake and birthdays
all together. Hong Kong and Singapore sure know how to have a party!
27/1 It is my last full day in Cambodia, and besides form a lot of work on the computer, I don't have any plans. The national museum is just around the corner, but I have seen enough statues and pottery by now. But I have to remember to suck-up as much heat and sun as possible, as Taiwan and especially Denmark won't have any.
I do a long walk through the more interesting part of
town, might be the old area along the river. Plenty of shops and three
small markets. Many of the shopkeepers and their families or employees
are outside, feeding the fire with fake dollar bills and other printed
matter as a sacrifice. The big New Year eve it tonight.
My roommates are gone, but then I get invaded by three Australian girls, and that live up the dorm-room!
At the markets, half the stalls are closed, and I
guess most of the rest actually live and sleep in the shop. I pass through my
local temple, but here is as quiet as normal.
The afternoon is spend walking around the area with the national Museum and The Royal Palace. Despite my most eager efforts, I fail to talk myself into seeing it from the inside. Then I get a shave at a barbershop and one more tea at the usual restaurant.
I leave the girls in the room, and go playing pool and drinking tea in the evening. Here are real quiet, considering the New Year. Not a single fire-cracker!
28/1 I have a two hours to spend, before I get a tuck-tuck to the airport - and then three more in the airport. The tour to the airport is through the new city, consisting of a lot of posh buildings. Many with a "Royal something" sign in front.
To sum the Cambodia tour up a bit: I have driven around the entire
Cambodia; 4350 kilometres, and seen pretty much everything I wanted to
see. It have been a quite disappointing botanical experience, and the
country is actually already too modern to fascinate me. But despite what
I have heard, I find the people of Cambodia real kind and helpful. It
is in general a happy people.