juliet: (Default)

The last few days have been very busy. Here in helpful bullet point format for you:

  • Second day at the Angkor temples was also great. Ta Prohm (featured in Tomb Raider, apparently), which is falling down to various extent, is fantastic clambering-over-rubble fun, and pleasingly quiet, as soon as you get off the wooden path they've laid for the tour groups. At sunset I got Ta Keo all to myself, due primarily to the fact that about half an hour before the sun actually went, it started tipping it down. I sheltered in the top tower and watched the deluge, which was very pretty even if a sunset, per se, did not happen. On descending, the food/drink vendors outside came running over to offer me a free umbrella, but I felt that this probably wouldn't work well with cycling, especially as I already needed one hand to hold the torch.
  • Less good: getting hit by a motorbike on way home from Ta Keo. I am basically fine - bruised left elbow and wrist, enormous bruise on my arse (I think the motorbike handlebar end must have hit me there), couple of grazes, one of which is on the side of my foot and is most irritating. Possible slight whiplash, although that didn't show up till Wednesday morning and thus could be related to Hideous Bus Ride (see below). Anyway: I am still not quite sure exactly what happened, as things are slightly blurred between moment of impact, and standing by the side of the road inventorying bits of myself and being somewhat surprised that everything seemed to be broadly intact. I do remember that I made a hell of a racket, partly in an attempt to alert other traffic to my existence whilst I scrambled off the road, and partly in the hope that someone might stop. In fact, the bloke who hit me came back - although at the time I didn't know if that was who he was, because he didn't speak English and I don't speak Khmer (and was too busy shaking anyway). He put me and the bike on the back of the motorbike, and took me back to his house. Which was initially confusing, until he phoned his brother, who does speak English, to translate. We agreed that he'd take me back to the hotel and they would sort things out re the bike in the morning, so that is what happened. Anyway: no major harm done, but it was bloody scary.
  • Tuesday was Siam Reap to Bangkok. Minibus arrived at hotel, and I got in, assuming that (as per the Phnom Penh to Siam Reap bus) this would take us to the bus station, where we would transfer to the real bus, with a/c and nice seats, to get to the border. Not So. Scrotty minibus (and I had the seat over the wheel arch, Deep Joy) for entire 6-hr journey to Poipet, on the Cambodian/Thai border. Over the most appalling dirt-plus-pothole (mostly pothole) road it has ever been my misfortune to encounter. Also at frequent intervals there was a big swerve off the road as they're rebuilding all the bridges and have built dirt-and-pothole detours around them. Minibus did not have a/c, so all the windows were open, which when driving through a big dust-cloud for 6 hrs means that you get very, very grubby. My back still aches today, and I genuinely do suspect that this is road-related rather than accident-related. Anyway, we finally reached the border (I note for the record that Poipet is a dump, really: even bigger potholes and rammed with goods lorries), and I ran away from the minibus, deeply grateful that I'd only booked to the border. (Well, I say "ran"; in fact I mean "limped slowly and pathetically due to hideous wound in foot".) Then I ran away from someone else offering another minibus. Instead, I got a tuk-tuk to the bus station, where I bought a ticket on a lovely, comfy, a/c and toilet equipped express bus to Bangkok. Even got a bizarre Thai film featuring a humorous transvestite and some kind of heroic contract killer (or possibly a bodyguard - he was cute, wore black, and shot lots of people, but only Bad People) to watch as a bonus.
  • On arrival in Bangkok I got on a moto for the first time (and bargained him down to 60% of his original price, thus only getting overcharged by probably around 100% instead of 200%); got on the SKYTRAIN which is a TRAIN in the SKY and thus very exciting (actually it is the Tube in the sky which is even more exciting); found a hotel; washed my trousers for the 2nd time (finally the sand from the accident has gone, hurrah); went next door to the hotel and ate pizza (it was 2130 and I seriously could not face going any further); went to sleep mmm lovely sleep.
  • Wednesday morning I had approx 6 hours in Bangkok, which seemed like enough time to do something nice after I'd collected my train ticket and dumped my rucksack. So I went to the post office (three letters! Thank you Mum, Wendy, and Kat!), and then to the river, where I got on a river boat up to the Royal Palace. Why doesn't London make more use of the river? I know we have a couple of commute-type boats, but they're so damn expensive, and IIRC fairly slow. The Bangkok one is both cheap (25p flat fee) and pretty whizzy, although you do get splashed a bit. The Royal Palace was very, very, very shiny. Lots of gilt and coloured glass. Mostly what I saw was the Emerald Buddha (actually jade) which was interesting, but possibly more interesting was the large number of people coming in for actual worship (i.e. not tourists). Then it absolutely tipped it down for a bit, so I didn't really see much else before having to set off to walk through Chinatown back to the station.
  • Back on the train from Bangkok to Butterworth after my Cambodian bus interlude; once again v comfy, and this time you have the option of dinner being brought to your seat. Veggie option available and everything! Comfort levels generally quite high; I approve.
  • The people across the aisle from me, Meg and Jeff, are also travelling from the UK to Australia overland! So chatting to them was very nice, and I shall be following their blog.

Now I am in Penang (just across the water from Butterworth) for about 6 hrs, having finally located a left luggage option for my rucksack which consisted of a broom cupboard opened by the station manager. Found food, had a little wander, here checking the emails now.

juliet: (Default)

The last few days have been very busy. Here in helpful bullet point format for you:

  • Second day at the Angkor temples was also great. Ta Prohm (featured in Tomb Raider, apparently), which is falling down to various extent, is fantastic clambering-over-rubble fun, and pleasingly quiet, as soon as you get off the wooden path they've laid for the tour groups. At sunset I got Ta Keo all to myself, due primarily to the fact that about half an hour before the sun actually went, it started tipping it down. I sheltered in the top tower and watched the deluge, which was very pretty even if a sunset, per se, did not happen. On descending, the food/drink vendors outside came running over to offer me a free umbrella, but I felt that this probably wouldn't work well with cycling, especially as I already needed one hand to hold the torch.
  • Less good: getting hit by a motorbike on way home from Ta Keo. I am basically fine - bruised left elbow and wrist, enormous bruise on my arse (I think the motorbike handlebar end must have hit me there), couple of grazes, one of which is on the side of my foot and is most irritating. Possible slight whiplash, although that didn't show up till Wednesday morning and thus could be related to Hideous Bus Ride (see below). Anyway: I am still not quite sure exactly what happened, as things are slightly blurred between moment of impact, and standing by the side of the road inventorying bits of myself and being somewhat surprised that everything seemed to be broadly intact. I do remember that I made a hell of a racket, partly in an attempt to alert other traffic to my existence whilst I scrambled off the road, and partly in the hope that someone might stop. In fact, the bloke who hit me came back - although at the time I didn't know if that was who he was, because he didn't speak English and I don't speak Khmer (and was too busy shaking anyway). He put me and the bike on the back of the motorbike, and took me back to his house. Which was initially confusing, until he phoned his brother, who does speak English, to translate. We agreed that he'd take me back to the hotel and they would sort things out re the bike in the morning, so that is what happened. Anyway: no major harm done, but it was bloody scary.
  • Tuesday was Siam Reap to Bangkok. Minibus arrived at hotel, and I got in, assuming that (as per the Phnom Penh to Siam Reap bus) this would take us to the bus station, where we would transfer to the real bus, with a/c and nice seats, to get to the border. Not So. Scrotty minibus (and I had the seat over the wheel arch, Deep Joy) for entire 6-hr journey to Poipet, on the Cambodian/Thai border. Over the most appalling dirt-plus-pothole (mostly pothole) road it has ever been my misfortune to encounter. Also at frequent intervals there was a big swerve off the road as they're rebuilding all the bridges and have built dirt-and-pothole detours around them. Minibus did not have a/c, so all the windows were open, which when driving through a big dust-cloud for 6 hrs means that you get very, very grubby. My back still aches today, and I genuinely do suspect that this is road-related rather than accident-related. Anyway, we finally reached the border (I note for the record that Poipet is a dump, really: even bigger potholes and rammed with goods lorries), and I ran away from the minibus, deeply grateful that I'd only booked to the border. (Well, I say "ran"; in fact I mean "limped slowly and pathetically due to hideous wound in foot".) Then I ran away from someone else offering another minibus. Instead, I got a tuk-tuk to the bus station, where I bought a ticket on a lovely, comfy, a/c and toilet equipped express bus to Bangkok. Even got a bizarre Thai film featuring a humorous transvestite and some kind of heroic contract killer (or possibly a bodyguard - he was cute, wore black, and shot lots of people, but only Bad People) to watch as a bonus.
  • On arrival in Bangkok I got on a moto for the first time (and bargained him down to 60% of his original price, thus only getting overcharged by probably around 100% instead of 200%); got on the SKYTRAIN which is a TRAIN in the SKY and thus very exciting (actually it is the Tube in the sky which is even more exciting); found a hotel; washed my trousers for the 2nd time (finally the sand from the accident has gone, hurrah); went next door to the hotel and ate pizza (it was 2130 and I seriously could not face going any further); went to sleep mmm lovely sleep.
  • Wednesday morning I had approx 6 hours in Bangkok, which seemed like enough time to do something nice after I'd collected my train ticket and dumped my rucksack. So I went to the post office (three letters! Thank you Mum, Wendy, and Kat!), and then to the river, where I got on a river boat up to the Royal Palace. Why doesn't London make more use of the river? I know we have a couple of commute-type boats, but they're so damn expensive, and IIRC fairly slow. The Bangkok one is both cheap (25p flat fee) and pretty whizzy, although you do get splashed a bit. The Royal Palace was very, very, very shiny. Lots of gilt and coloured glass. Mostly what I saw was the Emerald Buddha (actually jade) which was interesting, but possibly more interesting was the large number of people coming in for actual worship (i.e. not tourists). Then it absolutely tipped it down for a bit, so I didn't really see much else before having to set off to walk through Chinatown back to the station.
  • Back on the train from Bangkok to Butterworth after my Cambodian bus interlude; once again v comfy, and this time you have the option of dinner being brought to your seat. Veggie option available and everything! Comfort levels generally quite high; I approve.
  • The people across the aisle from me, Meg and Jeff, are also travelling from the UK to Australia overland! So chatting to them was very nice, and I shall be following their blog.

Now I am in Penang (just across the water from Butterworth) for about 6 hrs, having finally located a left luggage option for my rucksack which consisted of a broom cupboard opened by the station manager. Found food, had a little wander, here checking the emails now.

juliet: (round the world)
Bloody hell, I am knackered. This may have something to do with the 04:40 start this morning.

Cycling up to Angkor Wat at 5am with no lights was - entertaining, but I didn't fall off the road so all was well. (I really should have got my torch out, but it was pretty and I could see the stars!) It was, as anticipated, pretty busy for that time in the morning, but not at all obnoxiously so. And the sunrise - the temple is aligned east-west, so the sun rises right behind it - was beautiful.

This also meant that there weren't many people there when I went to finish wandering round it once the sun had done its rising thing. Nor at my next stop, Phnom Bakheng, which has a fantastic view (it's a temple-mountain, i.e. a temple built on a mountain, & well above everything in the vicinity) and is apparently spectacular at sunset. So everyone saves it for then, and at 08:30 there was just me, the Site Police chap having a nap, and a German couple. Clambering round one side of it I found a bit where the stone cladding has fallen away, and you can see where they used the stone of the mountain itself for the sides of the temple.

Onwards after that to Angkor Thom, the old royal city. And it was getting noticeably warm already. Pottered around and through the jungle, and again encountered surprisingly few people. I guess the tour-groups will tend to focus on specific sites, whereas I tend to wander off to look at random bits of collapsing stone. (Many of the temples, especially the smaller ones, are being or have been already enthusiastically taken over by the jungle.)

Bakon - which is famous for being covered with pillars with smiling faces on all 4 sides - was getting a bit crowded, so I might go back there another time to look at the bas-reliefs again. They show cool stuff like people washing in the river, and people gambling on cock-fights, and crocodiles eating fish, and so forth.

Due to my near-pathological dislike of the whole being-guided-around thing, I bought a book instead of hiring a guide, but overheard some of the official guides & they did sound pretty good. I am happy with the book, although already having a working knowledge of Brahminism, Buddhism, and how sculpture[0] works has I think been helpful.

In between all of this I consumed copious quantities of Coke, water, and fried rice with veg. At outrageous prices, obviously, there being a captive audience.

In the afternoon I headed up to look at Preah Kahn, which is mostly collapsed (and thus a mixture of bits you are allowed into and NO ENTRY DANGER signs, large piles of stones, etc). Despite producing some very impressive buildings, the Angkor-era Khmers had a surprisingly poor grasp of building principles. You know how if you build a wall, you offset the bricks as you go up? Not them: they put them straight on top of each other, leaving vertical faults (so the weather can get in); and used no mortar, just cut them tightly (so the weather once it gets in has a field day). They also never really bothered with any form of roofing other than the corbelled roof, which is where you just stack pieces of stone on top of each other, each next one up sticking out by a third, until the sides get close enough to stick something over the top. Obviously you can't do very wide roofs like this, so corridors tend to be quite narrow. To be honest I am increasingly surprised that any of the temples are still there at all.
(right, I will stop architecture-geeking now. I have photos of corbelled roofs on the camera, you know. I am PROUD of my geekery.)

I was meaning to head back after that, due to being knackered, but somehow instead found myself cycling a 20k loop. Which wouldn't normally be that far, granted, but with a badly-fitting bike, in 30deg heat, it felt a lot further. Didn't bother staying for sunset as I was far too knackered for it to feel like fun and not sure where would be nice to go anyway; I shall consider the issue tomorrow.

Now: shower, dinner, bed. [yawn]

[0] Thank you Sara Watson who taught me Classical Civilisation at A Level. Which was a very enjoyable course all round, in fact, although I could have happily lived my entire life without ever reading the Catalogue of Ships.
juliet: (round the world)
Bloody hell, I am knackered. This may have something to do with the 04:40 start this morning.

Cycling up to Angkor Wat at 5am with no lights was - entertaining, but I didn't fall off the road so all was well. (I really should have got my torch out, but it was pretty and I could see the stars!) It was, as anticipated, pretty busy for that time in the morning, but not at all obnoxiously so. And the sunrise - the temple is aligned east-west, so the sun rises right behind it - was beautiful.

This also meant that there weren't many people there when I went to finish wandering round it once the sun had done its rising thing. Nor at my next stop, Phnom Bakheng, which has a fantastic view (it's a temple-mountain, i.e. a temple built on a mountain, & well above everything in the vicinity) and is apparently spectacular at sunset. So everyone saves it for then, and at 08:30 there was just me, the Site Police chap having a nap, and a German couple. Clambering round one side of it I found a bit where the stone cladding has fallen away, and you can see where they used the stone of the mountain itself for the sides of the temple.

Onwards after that to Angkor Thom, the old royal city. And it was getting noticeably warm already. Pottered around and through the jungle, and again encountered surprisingly few people. I guess the tour-groups will tend to focus on specific sites, whereas I tend to wander off to look at random bits of collapsing stone. (Many of the temples, especially the smaller ones, are being or have been already enthusiastically taken over by the jungle.)

Bakon - which is famous for being covered with pillars with smiling faces on all 4 sides - was getting a bit crowded, so I might go back there another time to look at the bas-reliefs again. They show cool stuff like people washing in the river, and people gambling on cock-fights, and crocodiles eating fish, and so forth.

Due to my near-pathological dislike of the whole being-guided-around thing, I bought a book instead of hiring a guide, but overheard some of the official guides & they did sound pretty good. I am happy with the book, although already having a working knowledge of Brahminism, Buddhism, and how sculpture[0] works has I think been helpful.

In between all of this I consumed copious quantities of Coke, water, and fried rice with veg. At outrageous prices, obviously, there being a captive audience.

In the afternoon I headed up to look at Preah Kahn, which is mostly collapsed (and thus a mixture of bits you are allowed into and NO ENTRY DANGER signs, large piles of stones, etc). Despite producing some very impressive buildings, the Angkor-era Khmers had a surprisingly poor grasp of building principles. You know how if you build a wall, you offset the bricks as you go up? Not them: they put them straight on top of each other, leaving vertical faults (so the weather can get in); and used no mortar, just cut them tightly (so the weather once it gets in has a field day). They also never really bothered with any form of roofing other than the corbelled roof, which is where you just stack pieces of stone on top of each other, each next one up sticking out by a third, until the sides get close enough to stick something over the top. Obviously you can't do very wide roofs like this, so corridors tend to be quite narrow. To be honest I am increasingly surprised that any of the temples are still there at all.
(right, I will stop architecture-geeking now. I have photos of corbelled roofs on the camera, you know. I am PROUD of my geekery.)

I was meaning to head back after that, due to being knackered, but somehow instead found myself cycling a 20k loop. Which wouldn't normally be that far, granted, but with a badly-fitting bike, in 30deg heat, it felt a lot further. Didn't bother staying for sunset as I was far too knackered for it to feel like fun and not sure where would be nice to go anyway; I shall consider the issue tomorrow.

Now: shower, dinner, bed. [yawn]

[0] Thank you Sara Watson who taught me Classical Civilisation at A Level. Which was a very enjoyable course all round, in fact, although I could have happily lived my entire life without ever reading the Catalogue of Ships.
juliet: (round the world)
Some bits and pieces I have observed:

* When stopped at a local market/restaurant today (on bus journey), I was offered spiders to eat. Cooked ones. Ewwwwwwww.
* Apparently foreigners on bikes are highly entertaining. Many people say hello as they pass me, and/or giggle.
* They have some truly impressive potholes.
* You can apparently fit up to 4 people on a moped, with bags as well.
* Lots of little shrines etc by the road, in people's gardens/fields, and so on. (Buddhist, I assume, as that's the majority religion - and they look Buddhist.)
* Oh yes: I saw monkeys by Angkor Wat today! ([livejournal.com profile] dogrando & [livejournal.com profile] marnameow, no, I am not bringing any home, so hush.).
* Lots of hand-cultivation of fields as the bus went through the countryside today. And much of the place is under water at the moment. Houses are all on stilts (well: what looks like the living area, with walls, is on the first floor; underneath is open and looks like it's for animals), and most of them are wood.

Bother, I'm sure there was more stuff, but I am tired and have forgotten.
juliet: (round the world)
Some bits and pieces I have observed:

* When stopped at a local market/restaurant today (on bus journey), I was offered spiders to eat. Cooked ones. Ewwwwwwww.
* Apparently foreigners on bikes are highly entertaining. Many people say hello as they pass me, and/or giggle.
* They have some truly impressive potholes.
* You can apparently fit up to 4 people on a moped, with bags as well.
* Lots of little shrines etc by the road, in people's gardens/fields, and so on. (Buddhist, I assume, as that's the majority religion - and they look Buddhist.)
* Oh yes: I saw monkeys by Angkor Wat today! ([livejournal.com profile] dogrando & [livejournal.com profile] marnameow, no, I am not bringing any home, so hush.).
* Lots of hand-cultivation of fields as the bus went through the countryside today. And much of the place is under water at the moment. Houses are all on stilts (well: what looks like the living area, with walls, is on the first floor; underneath is open and looks like it's for animals), and most of them are wood.

Bother, I'm sure there was more stuff, but I am tired and have forgotten.
juliet: (round the world)
Got to Siam Reap this afternoon, & after some kerfuffle with hotel rooms have fetched up with an enormous room in a place at the end of a impressively potholed dirt road. I discovered that you can get your ticket for the temples the evening before (thus avoiding the queues the next morning around sunrise), so hired a bike and pottered up off the road.

Accidentally got into a small race with four of the local youth also on bikes, which was entertaining (well: they overtook me one by one, and then were just in front of me and grinning at me in a cheerful fashion, and what was I supposed to do? I was actually surprised by how categorically I dropped them; obviously I'm not quite as unfit as I thought I was getting).

After some debate bought the 3-day ticket (I can only stay for 2 days, but it's 2 x the 1-day price), which it transpired also meant that you get an hour that evening for free. So I headed up to Angkor Wat for an hour around sunset. It really is fantastic, incredibly impressive; I'm really looking forward to going back tomorrow. (This does mean I'll only get half a day in Bangkok, but never mind.)

(There is a chap at the computer next to me who is saying, oh, $40, I don't think I'll bother. Crazy. Mind you, he seems to be in a bad mood generally.)

Coming back along the impressively potholed road on the bike in the dark was exciting, in a slightly splashy way. It's definitely the rainy season here, although I've managed so far not to get caught in it.
juliet: (round the world)
Got to Siam Reap this afternoon, & after some kerfuffle with hotel rooms have fetched up with an enormous room in a place at the end of a impressively potholed dirt road. I discovered that you can get your ticket for the temples the evening before (thus avoiding the queues the next morning around sunrise), so hired a bike and pottered up off the road.

Accidentally got into a small race with four of the local youth also on bikes, which was entertaining (well: they overtook me one by one, and then were just in front of me and grinning at me in a cheerful fashion, and what was I supposed to do? I was actually surprised by how categorically I dropped them; obviously I'm not quite as unfit as I thought I was getting).

After some debate bought the 3-day ticket (I can only stay for 2 days, but it's 2 x the 1-day price), which it transpired also meant that you get an hour that evening for free. So I headed up to Angkor Wat for an hour around sunset. It really is fantastic, incredibly impressive; I'm really looking forward to going back tomorrow. (This does mean I'll only get half a day in Bangkok, but never mind.)

(There is a chap at the computer next to me who is saying, oh, $40, I don't think I'll bother. Crazy. Mind you, he seems to be in a bad mood generally.)

Coming back along the impressively potholed road on the bike in the dark was exciting, in a slightly splashy way. It's definitely the rainy season here, although I've managed so far not to get caught in it.
juliet: (Default)
So, I've spent the last couple of days pottering gently around Phnom Penh, which has been a most pleasant way to spend a couple of days. Had a chat with a couple of Australian girls in the FCC yesterday evening (one of whom works here, the other in Ho Chi Minh City aka Saigon); and then another chat with a nice Columbian woman called Lina, over dinner. Socialisation! Don't think I've had a conversation that long since I left Beijing.

Today, I finally got around to spending 1.5 hrs sorting out photos, as a result of which I've uploaded a whole 6 to Flickr. (I have 60, but [insert here rant about sodding upload speeds & uploads that take 45 min & then say they didn't bloody do anything; and then stupid Windows machines that refuse to open the damn folders any more arghghghgh ANYWAY. I will try again another time; at least they're sorted out now.]).

Tomorrow morning I am off to Siam Reap to visit the temples at Angkor, which are by all accounts spectacular.

Further on geckos: local name is ching-cha (very short a, very nearly "chat"); Dad tells me that in Singapore & Indonesia they're chat-chats. The waiter at the FCC who told me this then said "But the big ones are tak-ei," and pointed up into the corner between roof and walls, where there was an ENORMOUS (OK, maybe a foot long) lizard, looking a bit like a cross between an iguana and a gecko. Cor. I shall have another look for that one tonight.
juliet: (Default)
So, I've spent the last couple of days pottering gently around Phnom Penh, which has been a most pleasant way to spend a couple of days. Had a chat with a couple of Australian girls in the FCC yesterday evening (one of whom works here, the other in Ho Chi Minh City aka Saigon); and then another chat with a nice Columbian woman called Lina, over dinner. Socialisation! Don't think I've had a conversation that long since I left Beijing.

Today, I finally got around to spending 1.5 hrs sorting out photos, as a result of which I've uploaded a whole 6 to Flickr. (I have 60, but [insert here rant about sodding upload speeds & uploads that take 45 min & then say they didn't bloody do anything; and then stupid Windows machines that refuse to open the damn folders any more arghghghgh ANYWAY. I will try again another time; at least they're sorted out now.]).

Tomorrow morning I am off to Siam Reap to visit the temples at Angkor, which are by all accounts spectacular.

Further on geckos: local name is ching-cha (very short a, very nearly "chat"); Dad tells me that in Singapore & Indonesia they're chat-chats. The waiter at the FCC who told me this then said "But the big ones are tak-ei," and pointed up into the corner between roof and walls, where there was an ENORMOUS (OK, maybe a foot long) lizard, looking a bit like a cross between an iguana and a gecko. Cor. I shall have another look for that one tonight.
juliet: (Default)
I acquired a BIKE again this afternoon, courtesy of my guesthouse (though I did have to wait 15 min while the nice man took it to the nearest roadside bike/moto fixing place to sort out a puncture). And headed up to the train station, where I was told that there is no longer any service to Battambang. :( This doesn't enormously surprise me, as by all accounts the train's been on its last legs for years (the girl I spoke to in Moscow who'd taken it from said that there were whacking great holes in the floor of the only carriage). I may wander up again on Friday just to confirm, but it looks like the bus for me. Bah!

On the other hand this does simplify one thing: I wasn't planning to visit Angkor Wat (v famous temples), and then I was thinking maybe I would like to after all, and considering ways to manage this. If I'm not getting the train to Battambang, I can get a bus to Siam Reap instead, spend a day looking at temples, and then another bus to the Thai border and on to Bangkok. I'll lose a day in Bangkok, but that's OK.

Currently I am in the Foreign Correspondents' Club in Phnom Penh, which is a splendid building with no windows, big armchairs, wireless (sadly pay-for), GECKOS on the walls[0], and $1 local draft beer during happy hour.

I visited the genocide museum - text under cut may be distressing )

The more cheerful thing today was a wander round the National Museum, which has assorted art, sculptures, steles etc, in a lovely building, and which although small was lovely.

[0] I love geckos. My Dad spent a couple of years in Singapore in his early twenties, and used to tell us about all the rooms having geckos on the walls and how this was a Good Thing as they ate the biting insects. I found the idea of indoor geckos impossibly exotic, and it's almost symbolic for me of the Far East. I am thus inordinately excited about them. Also don't they stick to the walls with van der Waals force? Which is pretty awesome.
juliet: (Default)
I acquired a BIKE again this afternoon, courtesy of my guesthouse (though I did have to wait 15 min while the nice man took it to the nearest roadside bike/moto fixing place to sort out a puncture). And headed up to the train station, where I was told that there is no longer any service to Battambang. :( This doesn't enormously surprise me, as by all accounts the train's been on its last legs for years (the girl I spoke to in Moscow who'd taken it from said that there were whacking great holes in the floor of the only carriage). I may wander up again on Friday just to confirm, but it looks like the bus for me. Bah!

On the other hand this does simplify one thing: I wasn't planning to visit Angkor Wat (v famous temples), and then I was thinking maybe I would like to after all, and considering ways to manage this. If I'm not getting the train to Battambang, I can get a bus to Siam Reap instead, spend a day looking at temples, and then another bus to the Thai border and on to Bangkok. I'll lose a day in Bangkok, but that's OK.

Currently I am in the Foreign Correspondents' Club in Phnom Penh, which is a splendid building with no windows, big armchairs, wireless (sadly pay-for), GECKOS on the walls[0], and $1 local draft beer during happy hour.

I visited the genocide museum - text under cut may be distressing )

The more cheerful thing today was a wander round the National Museum, which has assorted art, sculptures, steles etc, in a lovely building, and which although small was lovely.

[0] I love geckos. My Dad spent a couple of years in Singapore in his early twenties, and used to tell us about all the rooms having geckos on the walls and how this was a Good Thing as they ate the biting insects. I found the idea of indoor geckos impossibly exotic, and it's almost symbolic for me of the Far East. I am thus inordinately excited about them. Also don't they stick to the walls with van der Waals force? Which is pretty awesome.
juliet: (Default)
(title primarily to pre-empt the rest of you...)

Successfully acquired bus ticket, after having to wade through ankle-deep rainwater to get myself out of the internet cafe. Which was exciting. So now I'm in Phnom Penh, and, to continue a theme, it is very hot. But there's a breeze as well, so it could be worse - and it is a little less humid than Saigon.

Helpfully, the bus fetched up around the corner from the guesthouse I was headed for (this is because they had a deal with another guesthouse, whose representatives got on the bus on the outskirts of Phnom Penh, dished out flyers, and then got the bus to stop right outside their place. I politely declined the offer to "just look at the room" and took off up the street on foot.). Friendly proprietors, a 2nd-floor restaurant/lounge with open walls and a splendid breeze, and a room with bathroom and a fan, for $7 a night ($6 without hot water). Bargain.

This afternoon I wandered round the Royal Palace, and had a conversation with a very cheerful teenager selling cold water on the street (she goes to school in the mornings, sells water in the afternoons to pay for school, and studies English, apparently very successfully as her English is pretty good, in the evenings to improve her future. "Where are you from?" she said. "London - England"[0] "Ah - lovely jubbly," with a big grin. I was highly amused.

Here until first thing Saturday, so I have a few days to potter around - this is good, as the weather means that 11.30 till about 2.30 is a total washout. I am bracing myself to go to the very depressing museum (site of the Khmer Rouge's Phnom Penh prison/torture centre) tomorrow morning. I am almost certainly not going to the Killing Fields of Choeung El, partly because there's only so much miserable stuff I can cope with at once, and partly because apparently the Cambodian government has sold the site off to a private firm (causing some distress & outrage to relatives of those who are buried there) & I don't particularly want to be generating profit for them.

[0] I have noticed that my instinctive reaction to the question "where are you from?" is "London". Rather than England or Britain (OK, former experience is that England is better-understood than Britain, anyway.). This doesn't surprise me that much - I did kind of already know that I identify as a Londoner more than I do as anything else. (The fact that I explicitly don't identify as English, but British, may also be a factor.)
juliet: (Default)
(title primarily to pre-empt the rest of you...)

Successfully acquired bus ticket, after having to wade through ankle-deep rainwater to get myself out of the internet cafe. Which was exciting. So now I'm in Phnom Penh, and, to continue a theme, it is very hot. But there's a breeze as well, so it could be worse - and it is a little less humid than Saigon.

Helpfully, the bus fetched up around the corner from the guesthouse I was headed for (this is because they had a deal with another guesthouse, whose representatives got on the bus on the outskirts of Phnom Penh, dished out flyers, and then got the bus to stop right outside their place. I politely declined the offer to "just look at the room" and took off up the street on foot.). Friendly proprietors, a 2nd-floor restaurant/lounge with open walls and a splendid breeze, and a room with bathroom and a fan, for $7 a night ($6 without hot water). Bargain.

This afternoon I wandered round the Royal Palace, and had a conversation with a very cheerful teenager selling cold water on the street (she goes to school in the mornings, sells water in the afternoons to pay for school, and studies English, apparently very successfully as her English is pretty good, in the evenings to improve her future. "Where are you from?" she said. "London - England"[0] "Ah - lovely jubbly," with a big grin. I was highly amused.

Here until first thing Saturday, so I have a few days to potter around - this is good, as the weather means that 11.30 till about 2.30 is a total washout. I am bracing myself to go to the very depressing museum (site of the Khmer Rouge's Phnom Penh prison/torture centre) tomorrow morning. I am almost certainly not going to the Killing Fields of Choeung El, partly because there's only so much miserable stuff I can cope with at once, and partly because apparently the Cambodian government has sold the site off to a private firm (causing some distress & outrage to relatives of those who are buried there) & I don't particularly want to be generating profit for them.

[0] I have noticed that my instinctive reaction to the question "where are you from?" is "London". Rather than England or Britain (OK, former experience is that England is better-understood than Britain, anyway.). This doesn't surprise me that much - I did kind of already know that I identify as a Londoner more than I do as anything else. (The fact that I explicitly don't identify as English, but British, may also be a factor.)

August 2017

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