We’ve been to a few places since our last update so thought a quick round up was in order.
First stop was Kep where we spent a blissful week lounging by the pool, riding bikes around town and enjoying wonderful fresh seafood every day from the Crab Market. We stayed at two places, Darica and Le kep Bungalows, both were very relaxing places to be, we decided to treat ourselves a bit so both resorts had pools which were great for cooling off in the afternoon heat.
We visited Kep on our last trip to Cambodia almost 3 years ago and it hasn’t changed too much, there are more places to stay and all the roads seem to have been widened but other than that it’s still the breezy town we enjoyed first time ’round.
There was no set plan after Kep so, as we enjoyed it so much, we headed back to Kampot for a couple of days to decide what we wanted to do. While there we took the firefly cruise in the evening, we saw what the boat captain assured us where fireflies but they looked more like fairy lights to us so we may or may not have seen some.
Initially we wanted to go to Koh Kong next but after finding out the travel time was approximately 10 hours on the bus we decided to visit Battambang, Cambodia’s second city, after an overnight in Phnom Penh.
Battambang was fun, it has a pub street area with plenty of nice restaurants and bars and several night markets. While there we kept ourselves busy with a cooking school where we learned to make fish amok, spring rolls, chicken soup and a delicious set dessert called a coconut Lyly.
We visited the market as part of the course too, our chef, Lyly took us around and pointed out lots of interesting fruits and veg, we also witnessed a valiant escape effort from one of the fresh bar fish sold there, one had managed to get out of a basket and was using it’s flippers to crawl down the street!
We spent a tiring but fun day out visiting a few of the local attractions, first up was the bamboo train, primarily just for tourists it used to be used to carry freight by local people, it’s basically a wooden platform on 2 axles with a small engine at the back that whizzes you along a couple of miles of rail, there’s no room for overtaking so if another train is coming the other way the whole thing is dismantled and moved out the way – we had to get off three times, the guys are pretty adept at it though and we got moving again within a couple of minutes each time.
From the train we headed to Wat Banan, a temple at the top of Banan Hill accessed via 350 odd steep steps, the views from the top were worth the effort.
Last stop was Phnom Sampeau, a beautiful temple again atop a massive hill this time however there was an option to take a moto to the top, we decided to take the easy option this time. At the top we paid a solemn visit to the Killing Cave where many people were thrown to their deaths during the time of Khmer Rouge, a very humbling experience. At sundown we watched as millions of bats set out for the night, awesome.
From Battambang we headed to Siem Reap for a couple of nights where we did some shopping and enjoyed some tasty frozen margaritas and a trip to the circus before heading back to Phnom Penh on an incredibly long bus journey, we learned long ago to add about a third to any quoted times for bus journeys and true enough, our 6 hour ride ended up being an 8 hour slog but we got there safe and sound.
Our Cambodia tour had shown us that, although exploring is fun, we kinda missed working and the guys at Secret Garden, and as we still had a couple of months left on our visa we asked if they’d have us back and happily they said yes! So that’s where we currently are having arrived back a couple of days ago, it’s great to be back on the beach and things are calmer now the peak season has passed, we’re going to stay put until our visa expires so it gives us plenty of time to ponder our next move, currently the plan is to head to Vietnam.
So that’s our last 3 weeks or so in a nutshell, a nice big circuit of Cambodia is complete and we’re back where we started with Chinese New Year to look forward to!