We moved on after 3 great days in the Cambodian capital - Phnom Penh. We caught a bus from there to the South of Cambodia headed for Sihanoukville. This is the beachy part of Cambodia and is much hyped about. As usual the bus left about 1 hour late as it waits until absolutely everybody who is supposed to be on board is on board regardless if they are running late or simply forgot they had to catch a bus. The Cambodians are very laid back in nature and no-one seems to kick up a fuss when the bus is delayed for one hour because some woman turned up late because she was fixing her hair. The other great thing about Cambodian buses seems to be the incessant Cambodian karaoke played on the speakers and on the big screen tv throughout the duration of the journey. It's akin to Chinese water torture having to put up with an awkward looking Cambodian 'pop star' for 4-5 hours on end! On this occasion, it was no different. We sat through the usual drivel and then were treated to some unique Cambodian mechanics when the bus broke down 20 minutes from our destination. Half an hour later it was soon fixed as the driver used his braces to fix the problem and we chugged the last 10km along at about 10 mph.
We spent 3 nights in Sihanoukville. It is certainly the dirtiest town we have been so far. There is rubbish everywhere and you have to really watch your step when you are walking. It is clearly a work in progress kind-of-place but there is no doubt that the beaches are stunning. We soaked up the very consistent Cambodian sun for the best part of 2 days. It has a very chilled out atmosphere on the beach which is probably because of the all day happy hours serving 50 cents beers!
On one of the days we took our trip out to the some of the surrounding islands. They were beautiful and very peaceful. The group we were with though were complete miseries and failed to muster a smile between themselves for the whole day. We kept ourselves amused however by using the snorkelling equipment to perfect our Elton John impressions in the water. We even got into the spirit of things when we were provided with a dodgy looking fish supper. It turned out to be delicious and we can now include Barracuda on the minuscule list of things we like.
Our hostels in Cambodia are proving to be very cheap and good value. On average we've been paying about $8 for a double room with a fan. Our cheapest so far has been $5 but this place had a foul-smelling bathroom (that wasn't the result of one of our deposits!). We have learnt to cope with the constant presence of Gecko's in our room although Hannah has nicknamed them dragons since we have seen one or two massive ones thus far in Cambodia. The other morning we found one amongst the bread rolls we had prepared for lunch the next day. Note to self: Gecko's like bread rolls. We are also learning to cope with the bathrooms which are all wet rooms with the toilet and accompanying toilet paper getting drenched every-time you have a shower. We have figured out this is why they have the need for the aptly named ''bum gun'' to wipe your bum with since the toilet paper has been thoroughly marmalised by the shower water.
After a lovely few days in Sihanoukville we went down to Kampot - a small riverside town near the Vietnam-Cambodia border. It had an almost horizontal laid-backness to it. It moved at a very slow pace but was surrounded by pleasant countryside and was a nice break from the other frantic Cambodian towns. We took a bike ride to see some much advertised rapids along the river. We managed to pick up bikes for the day for $1 dollar each. Hannah had a cool old style bike with a basket and curved handlebars. She looked like a sophisticated French lady out shopping for groceries. I followed behind on my rusty mountain bike looking like a sweaty English man shopping for a defibrillator! The ride itself was good, honest hard work in the searing 30 degree heat. We rode for about 9km and were expecting roaring rapids that cascaded dramatically over the rocks. Instead it was more like a trickle of tap water over a bunch of stones. Nevertheless, the setting was stunning and it was very, very peaceful and great to see the Cambodian countryside. I had the sorest of bottoms after wards but declined the ''internal massages'' on offer by the local ''sausage girls'' (this is their actual terminology not mine!).
We went on an interesting tour yesterday. The guide took us to a pepper farm, a salt production field, some really cool caves, a crab market and then took us to a really nice island for a lovely beach. It was a good day and the guide certainly enjoyed himself. He steadily worked his way through some ''funny'' cigarettes throughout the day and then rounded off the day with some very strong jugs of palm wine! We were relieved to be dropped off safely 2 hours later than planned!
We are now back in Phonm Penh as we needed to come back here before going to Vietnam tomorrow!