During the last blog it was mentioned about the choice & cost of breakfast. Well the evening is much the same, the only difference being there’s more places to choose from :-), up until half nine at night anyway. After that choice is limited but food is still available even until the early hours at a few select venues. New places seem to be opening week by week, hopefully it won’t get over populated, but that seems wishful thinking tho’ as already there’s a turkish kebab house?? It just seems out of place in this town, but hey that’s just my opinion and what do I know huh?
We’ve got our favourites and tend to rotate around them, depending what takes our fancy. There’s a few Khmer joints we like and they are dirt cheap, a whole fish cooked how you like is just $3. A traditional Italian place is excellent for a rustic treat and wine, at another eatery the Chinese dumplings and noodles are incredible, both from a cost and taste perspective. They are served at a venue which also has a 4m cinema screen upstairs that we’ve tried a few times.
On one occasion whilst eating my twelve steamed pork dumplings, for $2!! I fail with four remaining – fear not a street kid, a girl of maybe ten appears from the shadows. She’s very shy but her hunger edges herself toward our table. No words are spoken, the eye contact is enough for her to feel welcome to devour the tasty morsels. Not greedily tho’ she has manners, something that too many spoilt brats at home seem to lack way too often. Following a respectful wai she’s on her way, leaving us feeling thankful for another dose of humbleness. I would have loved to have captured a shot but it just doesn’t seem a cool thing to do, maybe it’s myself who’s too shy?
Another little trip we take is to the zoo. Now please wait a minute, I don’t like zoos either! Maybe that’s why it’s be more difficult than usual to get it blogged. We were about 8 km out of town and when we first passed the place. My words to the KPs request were “we are not fucking going there!” Holding animals captive for the enjoyment of the public is not my thing. That was during our first visit, since then we’ve learnt a bit about the place and it’s history and the animals needs. It’s called the Teuk Chhou Zoo and it’s had a chequered past, animals were severely malnutritioned a number of years ago, then an NGO group came to the aid of the owner who as the story goes originally saved a number of sick animals, but it all became too much and too costly to take care of, which resulted in the animals coming off worst. During the past three years or so, with the aid of NGO wildlife alliance conditions are meant to have improved. As an example the elephants have a new enclosure as conditions previously were meant to be quite horrific. Now however the NGO have withdrawn their aid and the zoo is now once again in the hands of it’s local owner, with rumours that the animals now only get fed dependant on the number of visitors.
So the main cause of our visit was to feed which animals we could, not understanding what was kept there we took bananas and apples, knowing there’d be monkeys for sure. With our $4 entrance paid we stop off at the crocodile viewing pagoda which has a very rickety floor, and quite a number of crocs below it. Then it’s on to the main part of the zoo walking alongside the woods.
First up is a brightly coloured parakeet and close by there’s a few monkeys who are getting exciting in the hope we’ve got some food. The bananas we’ve got are a bit on the green side and they turn their noses up at them, which indicates they can’t be that hungry then? They nosh away on a few of the apples tho’ there’s two and we need feed them together to distract the dominant one. They don’t look too happy tho’ and considering their caged who can blame them.
Next up it’s a wild cat, possibly a lynx. Then a few more monkeys and a gibbon, we feed the gibbon who also likes apples but the long armed little bastard scrams my arm through the fence and draws blood, it’s a concern. Onwards we go to a small cage at the end which seems empty. The KP is in front and suddenly hurries along the fence. It’s then I hear the growl also, it’s a sleek looking leopard and it’s angry! I retreat much quicker than the KP, much to her amusement. I’ve not mentioned until now but the zoo is very run down and looks as if it’s not been maintained for quite a long time, the enclosures are small and rusted. It’s a genuine concern that maybe this particular cage is not sufficient to contain it’s beast, the rebar and tennis court netting doesn’t convince myself anyway! On top of that the big cat is not in the best of moods. It therefore goes against your natural defence system to just walk along the edge of the cage. The big cat growling and snarling angrily, it’s fierce eyes piercing into yours, for sure more interested in us than the apples :-).
It was exhilarating to say the least, for sure we’ll need to go on a safari at some point, hopefully get to see the animals in their natural environment where they belong. There’s a selection of various monkeys and different types of birds, owls and eagles.
They’ve even got two elephants who are more than happy with the unripe bananas, the male even has his tusks, which is a rarity. So that’s a plus I suppose, as if it was in the wild the chances are the ivory would have been poached. His back has gone tho’, ribcage dropped exposing the ridge of it’s spine. A sign that it’s been worked too hard in the past, maybe it prefers life in it’s current environment? Something we learnt in Mondulkiri which you can read here, is that elephants are happy when they flap their ears. Both of them were giving it big pairs of flappers for us anyway!
The whole experience is quite surreal to be honest, there’s a wide selection of animals and in addition to them there’s a selection of unusual statues and also an old ferris wheel and merry go round.
It was quite late in the day when we arrived so it’s a whirlwind tour but just before leaving we pass a big fat python with dinner walking about in it’s area, a nice fresh duck. Last off we also spot there’s a tiger, it’s cage is way way too small! For sure it must drive the impressive cat crazy, to the untrained eye tho’ the animals looked quite healthy considering?
We depart with mixed feelings – It was sad to see the animals like this, but now they are there what do you do, ignore the place? Which would be my opinion at home, I’d even encourage others not to go. On a positive note we tried to do our bit and feed those that we could. Our trip wasn’t without incident either, the long arm of the gibbon instigated a search on the net which resulted in discovering that even if your not bitten by a monkey, any contact resulting in possible transfer of saliva which includes scratches, then rabies is a risk and it’s best to seek immediate medical attention. Considering that once you shown signs of having contracted rabies, it’s too late, you are already dead! So we visited the hospital and nice it was too, modern clean with lots of new looking equipment and helpful staff. A series of questions, a quick look and clean of the wound, with my tetanus up to date we were on our way. I’m not sure that’s correct protocol but the gibbon wasn’t foaming at the mouth so we were all cool.
It was reassuring to see quite a good set up so local to town. If something serious happened tho’ you need to get to Bangkok, valid insurance is paramount if your thinking of travelling in asia, EVAC is expensive.
A few days later the KP wants to go back and do some more feeding. As much as we’d like to feed the wild cats their enclosures don’t really allow it, not to mention it being dangerous. Upon returning the leopard and lynx have gone, maybe to another zoo? Who knows there’s too much of a language barrier to find out. We were recently informed by a friend in town that the python escaped, feeding on 3 or 4 pigs before it was found by chance 4 clicks away. This would explain why the python was also missing on the second visit, we just hope the leopard didn’t escape as that would be fucking scary!! During our second visit it was feeding time and all the animals looked as if they were cared for, also it seemed they were being fed their natural food source.
There’s two more tigers at the other side of the complex housed separately in quite large areas compared to the one on our first visit, maybe as much as fifteen or twenty times bigger. Also there are lions, plus a lioness with a newly born cub, its nice to see that they are breeding. Whether thats a good thing in captivity I’m not sure. I suppose so, due to the chances of them ever being set free into the wild being close to zero! One of the lions still has it’s natural instincts tho’ – I’m taking shots whilst it’s enjoying a big piece of meat, the mood suddenly changes, you can see in it’s eye and it charges for the fence. A great opportunity for some action shots, that is if i’d kept still! Fear took over and i quickly retreated like a baby forgetting the fence was between us. Not that retreating would have helped if it wasn’t, you’d have no chance.
Again we leave with mixed feelings it was great to see the cub, but it’s sad to see the animals contained as they are, but reading some articles online courtesy of the Phnom Pehn Post here, conditions are much improved. However as stated the zoo is back in the hands of the local owner now so what it’s fate will be who knows? I think it’s worth a visit do your bit for the animals that are there, not that I’ve enjoyed penning this blog but it’s something we’ve done and part of our trip so keeping with the theme – it’s here!
Back to life in the town – We’ve been happy with our digs but have been looking to move, it’s a bit pricey at $250 if we want to stay for a month, but the main problem being the room gets extremely hot and sticky during the afternoon. We counter this by either being out and about or utilising the communal balcony to relax. However with the help of others in town we’ve managed to find alternative accommodation just a 15min walk away on the back edge of town.
That’s where we relocate to at the beginning of the next instalment of the blog, it’s called the Aron Ramsey so has Welsh links therefore we are expecting it to be good. Let’s hope so.