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Coming to Cambodia

Friday, April 18, 2014

The border crossing at Prek Chak was pretty straightforward, with the only hassle being the border guard trying to pocket an extra $5. I smiled and told him I knew perfectly well the price of the Cambodian visa ($20) and wasn’t prepared to pay any more. He insisted it was $25 and unless I paid this I couldn’t pass through. I just kept smiling and handed him the $20 dollar bill, then sat down in front of his window. After a brief conversation with his colleague, they called to me and I filled in the form, handed over my passport and got my visa. No problem.

My first stop along highway 33 was to take this picture.

I followed highway 33 past Kep National Park on a mixture of initially good surfaced roads, then soon found that what Google maps considered to be a main road following the coast was nothing more than a sandy track and was impassable. I back-tracked onto the highway and continued onto my overnight stop, Kampot, where I found a cheap $3 room in a lovely little guesthouse called Tich’s (named after their dog) run by a nice Australian couple. When they heard about my travels, the entire bill was donated free. The kindness of strangers once more.
If you are stopping by in Kampot, make sure you check them out because the draft beer is to die for and the views over the river from the rooftop terrace are stunning.

View from the terrace – one of the fishing fleet returning at sunset.

Watching the sunset in Kampot

Cambodia is very different from Vietnam. For a cyclist, the roads in particular are hard work, not only because of the surface but because of the dust. It permeates absolutely everywhere and after suffering badly with my breathing, I resorted to wearing a face mask purchased from a roadside stall. It helped, but I still had to stop regularly to find some clean air and try and clear out my lung.

The main highway just outside Phnom Penh

I spent just the one night in the capital, a busy city that just didn’t appeal to me. Some Facebook friends had paid for me to splurge by booking me into the Princess Hotel, so it was a chance to get my washing done. What I should have done first is asked the price because to my horror they tried to charge me $15, which after arguing I got down to $10. It left a very bad taste in my mouth, because this was more than I would have paid for a hostel (and washing) so I was not happy. Even less so when I discovered they had burned a hole in my favourite shorts.

The Independence Monument, Phnom Penh

I did go for a wander around, but my mind was already fast forwarding to my next destination Siem Reap and the magnificent temples of Angkor, so it felt like I was just marking time. It’s funny how different cities can have different effects on you and I suppose it’s also down to not having anyone here with me, as had been the case with the last few visited. It makes me appreciate even more when friends make an effort to show me around.

A very unusual tree I spotted on my walkabout

Wandering about did however give me my first real opportunity to get used to my replacement camera and knowing that I wouldn’t have to spend time removing dust spots from every image (seriously, with the previous damaged camera I could spend up to 20 minutes on each image) was very much appreciated. I also like the colours straight out of the camera, which seem much more vibrant.

No idea who lives here, but thought it worth a picture!

So now I’m back up and running (so to speak) I hope to capture some stunning images from my travels, so as not to disappoint all my avid followers who constantly write to me about my photography. On that note, I am going to set up another Facebook page to not only answer some of the many questions, but to actually run an on-line tutorial workshop. More about this soon.

Monument honouring King Norodom Sihanouk, Phnom Penh

OK that’s it for this short update, in the next blog I have the pictures and story of my trip around Siem Reap and the amazing Angkor temples. But just as a taster, can anyone tell me which film made this image below world famous?

An iconic image, but from which movie?

Please post your answer on my Facebook page rather than in the blog comments.  More soon…

4 Comments
Sunday, April 20, 2014 at 7:06 am

Apocalypse now?

    Sunday, April 20, 2014 at 7:38 am

    It has been answered on my Facebook page = Lara Croft Tomb Raider.

    Thanks

Nicolas Valy
Tuesday, April 22, 2014 at 3:51 am

The unusual tree you spotted on your walkabout is endemic to Madagascar and its scientific name is Ravenalla madagascariensis.

    Wednesday, April 23, 2014 at 6:27 am

    Thanks Nicolas 🙂

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