We arrive safe n sound, our plan to beat the rush to the visa desk is thwarted by the hordes already there. It’s a painless experience tho’, all quite efficient if you have the patience and necessary paper work at the ready. If you don’t got a photo you must part with a dollar for them to copy your passport, on top of the fee of course which is $40 by the way, it varies though depending where you is from like. Kazakhs save $10 and also get the full 30 days, the process and result identical for us both :-).
Ding Ding – Round Two it is then. No I’m not referring to my brief visit on the way to Phnom Penh to await the KP’s return. Temple town is somewhere we’ve been together before, last March. It was a great three days of temple touring, floating villages and a fair bit of grooving. For now we are just planning on chilling for two nights before moving onwards to Battambang. Yes unashamedly a fair bit of cheating has gone on during the production of this blog. The cover photo and a few others are from that first trip. The hotel picked on Agoda is a cracker indeed, $24 a night with a pool and a balcony, bear in mind due to the influx of tourists this part of Cambo attracts there’s hotels in town that are $600 plus a night. The majority around the $50-80 mark, so we’ve done very well.
Quick to gather our bearings we clock we’re a bit of a walk from the action so double back to an Indian directly opposite the hotel. Our luck is in as the waitress convinces the chef to perform his last duties of the day. Order selected with the KP in mind, the overly spicy dishes being avoided on purpose. Then it’s my first chance to properly check out the K3, nice too, hope you agree.
More compact than the K7 with a similar layout and a more quality feel in the hand. The shots are sharp, the lens far superior to the Tamron I was using. I’m hope my skills will do the kit justice and that you enjoy the shots and also appreciate the greater quality. The food is quite bland but edible, even the KP feels it’s not spicy enough. About halfway through the meal and struggling to finish it. A man and his son approach us begging, it’s quite common and usually we’ll wave them on, or just give a simple shake of the head. It’s not easy but if you gave to them all it would be all you were doing with your time. Kids we especially avoid giving as it then encourages their parents to keep them on the streets and not in bed where they should be, ready for school. Admittedly this is easier said than done, but you really do need to try and stick to your guns, as usually the kids are forced into it. This situation is different, father and child no older thsn three together and the eyes look so gentle and in need, we give the dad a $2 note, following a smile and a thankful Wai, they both stare at the food. I tear off a big piece of nan and pile it high with curry and rice. They’re away and noshing on it greedily. Then the man returns, he helps himself to more curry and even takes the plates away. It’s a strange situation, one where perhaps we should be outraged, but we are happy, it’s a humbling experience one which makes us feel good about ourselves. The vibes between me and the KP must have been felt for the man to feel so welcome and relaxed at the table. I wanted to take photos but it just didn’t seem appropriate and the KP later agrees with me. It reminds us of when we were last in Siem Reap together, the KP, bless her soul bought a 50 kilo sack of rice for a floating school on the river. Some cynical trip advisors reckon it’s a scam and it might well be, regardless it took care of our karma for a bit so we were happy. The kids happy also with the sweets we delivered. Myself I was over the moon with her, it was a totally impressive gesture, one of the moments where my love grew and when I first perhaps thought she could actually be marriage material.
Suitably humbled and with karma looking out for us, it’s time to head to pub street, central to the action and usually a fair bit of madness.
We take a few seats in a quiet bar right close to the action, by quiet I just mean there’s empty seats. Music is banging from the Temple bar, one of the few which were here in 2002 to greet myself and Billy. Opposite the street similar shit tunes are coming from the Angkor What? (a lot of thought went into the name) bar. Between the two a relatively sized mixed age group of tourists are dancing in the street. It’s the biggest party we’ve seen in a while but are happy to just observe with our Irish coffee’s soon followed by cheap cocktails. It’s a good opportunity to try the K3 during action. The main attraction is a local girl selling gum, maybe eleven years old and out way past her bed time. What a dancer, a pure natural with flowing moves, she’s so fluid, as good as, or better than the choreographed moves designed around the pumping music.
Drunken tourists encourage her into dance offs. It’s all good natured and everyone’s having fun, but boys with their tops off and girls flaunting their curves (or big british bellies) is no place for a kid. In the Tuk-Tuk back we discuss that hopefully with her skills she’ll end up in some drama class or dance school and not into a future of prostitution which unfortunately is the career path of many young girls and boys in Asia. However Cambodia is a country slowly on the up and chances do seem to exist for those that are hard working and ready to grasp opportunities that come their way. Let’s hope she’ll be one of them.
As penned in this and previous posts we’ve already done the temples, myself more than once so we give that a miss this time around. I’ll say it again tho’ it’s Cambo’s Jewel in it’s Crown and rightly so. All the temples local to the area are fantastic and the majority of others you can visit in Asia (not that I’ve seen them all) really do fall short in comparison. Now we are just here to get to Battambang up the river for a bit of exploring, another destination recommend by my cockney geezer. Who reckons “if your half handy on a scooter there’s loads to see and do”. Thanks to Billy and his motoring school, plus the continued self tuition I’m now half handy, or at least a third handy if I’m honest. Therefore today we shall mostly be drinking three dollar poolside cocktails, whilst enjoying the shade and the half decent Wi-Fi to do a much needed catch up on the blog. The desired destination is to get back to realtime blogging (right now at this minute I’ve cut the deficit to below two weeks, confident I will get there, maybe not so soon, but get there I will).
In the evening we try a Brazilian restaurant that’s had good reviews on the net. It’s the KP’s debut into the culinary delights of pele’s home nation. It’s the best one ever, well of the trip, the grub. Not half bad considering we’ve been travelling for almost three months. As we didn’t shoot the menu we’re not even sure now what we had but it was all delicious, it’s called Gigi Brazil for when your in town, we’ll be back there for sure when we are. It’s a bit out of town actually, and on the way back to the city we stop off at some hotel which has a Jazz night, unfortunately we only caught the last two tunes. That’s before some guests improvise with a bit of drunken karaoke as the band pack their shit away, not to be outdone we make the most of the $4 cocktails which are right proper. Once back in town we hit a club come bar on the roof, they’ve got a skating half pipe which will be loads of fun when the skilful cunts are here, especially when going head to head in the competitions they no doubt have. If I could skate or spray I’d be back during the day, sadly my skateboard skills are even worse than my biking ones, and let’s not mention my doodles, though I can confirm I failed art at school, more suited to being another type of artist.
We’d been advised to take the boat trip to Battambang, as it’s meant to be the most scenic river route in the country. I’ve got a vision in my head of drinking cocktails whilst shooting loads of river life shots, listening to cool tunes maybe even a dance whilst slamming shots of a different kind at the bar. It takes longer at this time of year when the river runs low so it’s best we check the net. Whoooow – Fuck that, but thank fuck we’ve looked. The boat is just like a big long tail with not much in the way of shade. Plus it takes 10 fucking hours, even if we did actually survive the journey I don’t fancy another bout of sunburn just yet. We book the bus which has an advertised duration of four hours, also it’s a third of the price at $8. I’m sure the boat is very interesting, especially the bit where you need to get out and push, but we’ve spent quite a bit of time up the river already and doubt there would be much in the way of interest to ourselves.
It’s the next day and we are not leaving just yet, forgot to mention but we’ve extended by a day haven’t we. There’s something serious that we needs to get done, and it’s the potential boat trip that I’ve got to thank for being able to execute the plan. The plan – Convincing the KP of getting her very first pair of spectacles. It’s something I’ve been onto her about for the last year or so. She actually went for an eye test in St Petersburg, -0.75 both eyes, same as my first prescription. The optician advised her that glasses she don’t need, they will only make her eyes worse. WTF, they’re at it again, the ruskies – another of the many Soviet myths that have turned the country and those that were part of the USSR into a huge collective of hypochondriacs. Handy if you ever need a pharmacy tho’. They are easier to find than a pub in Cork (a top city by the way, located in the South of Eire). Anyways, following a good number times of borrowing my eyeware. The river and the possible things to see of interest is enough to finally entice the KP for an eye test.
Result, ye test done and a cool pair selected in less than 40 minutes, plus the promise they will be ready in 2 hours means we don’t need to extend another day. Battambang here we come! Let’s hope she still loves me now she can see.