Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Been busy.

Well since the last post we've been busy. Moved around lots and have seen quite a bit. After HCMC we headed for the Mekong Delta region. It really wasn't what we expected at all. It was just a series of cities that were the same as any where else except they happened to be on the Mekong River. We were lucky that we booked a tour for our first day because we got to see a few of the lush green islands on the delta and some of the 'industries' they have there like making rice paper, honey, coconut shell souvenirs, and coconut candy.

We got to see a floating market too early one morning which was something different but probably not worth the money we paid to get to it. We were totally ripped off!

Other than that it was a lot of time on local buses that were like travelling zoos at times. In one we had a dog in a bag hanging from the seat in front of us and roosters in baskets in the seat behind us. Crazy!

After the Delta we spent 3 relaxing days on Phu Quoc Island. It's in the South China Sea off the southern coast of Vietnam, but it's very close to Cambodia and the Cambodians claim it should be theirs. It was so blissful there. Our hut resort was right on the beach and in the 3 days we only left the beach once and that was to book our tickets back to the mainland. We spent all day on the beach but it was so hot that for most of the day we were in the shade and we still managed to get burnt. The water there was lovely and warm, and it was so salty that you could just float for ages. We got to watch the sunset over the sea every evening as well and that was really beautiful.

It a good job we were so relaxed leaving there because it was hard work getting to our next destination. We got the hydrofoil (like a giant speedboat type ferry) back to the mainland, then we had to get a minibus to Ha Tien (the closest town to the border), from there we got motorbikes to and through the border. They were supposed to take us all the way to Kep in Cambodia but it was too hot for them so the fobbed us off on a taxi driver so we got a car to Kep. When we got there we had to wait 2 hours for the bus on to Kampot. That was all in the one day, and it was only the following day we found out that the bus from Kampot to Phnom Penh (where we were going to) now goes through Kep so we could have just stayed there for the night instead of hanging around for 2 hours and then taking the bus to Kampot. The bus journey to Phnom Penh was fairly tough going, a rattly old bus on bumpy dirt roads, but we got there in the end.

We went to see the Killing Fields and the S-21 prison museum. It was fairly harrowing stuff seeing all the skulls out in the Killing Fields and some of the pictures and displays in S-21.

It was good to hear in the news that some of the people who were responsible for the atrocities committed by the Khmer Rouge are finally being held responsible.

We left Phnom Penh for Siem Reap and have spent the last 3 days looking at the ruins in Angkor Wat. Some of them are really spectacular. I think Ta Prohm was favourite for both of us with the giant trees and sprawling roots growing amongst the ruins. After the 3 days though I think we've both had our fill of ruins for quite a while.

Siem Reap itself is a lovely town, really laid back and relaxed. There's a few markets here and it's a good job we met up with Kate and James again because Foss and James can go off and have a few beers while Kate and I go shopping. In one of the markets they have a fish massage thing where you put your feet into a pool full of fish and they nibble off all the dead skin. It was really funny and tickly at first but enjoyable once you got used to the sensation.

One of the nights in Siem Reap we went to the ACODO orphanage to see a show that they put on every night. The kids did all the dancing and played the music themselves.

It was free to get into but they do ask for donations. We all really enjoyed it and it was nice afterwards to talk with the kids and take photos with them. They were all really well behaved and seemed happy and well looked after. We went back there another morning for a few hours. We spent the morning playing with the kids and then we went to the market with one of the volunteers and some of the kids to buy them some cooking ingredients like cooking oil, fish sauce, soya sauce, sugar, salt and seasoning. We really enjoyed it and had great fun with the kids.

On our last night we had dinner in a place where you barbeque your own food in the centre of the table. We were very adventurous and went for the sampler menu of chicken, beef, squid, snake and crocodile. They were all delicious.

Then it was a long bus ride back to Phnom Penh to catch a cheap flight to Bangkok that turned out to be not so cheap since you have to pay $25 departure tax. One night in the Khao San Road, one day of shopping and now we're heading for the islands. Yipee!

Hope everybody is keeping well,
Jan and Paul

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