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Going solo in Cambodia!

Going solo in Cambodia!

Well, I guess I've been just having too good a time to blog about it. Well, actually I feel like I'm working a 9-5 again. I'm currently in Phuket Thailand but I'll update you on all that next time.

So last we met I was in Laos still finishing up a bike trip, the next stop was Cambodia but before that, I chilled out in Don Det for a few days right beside the border. Don Det is more of a chilled out version of Vang Vieng...though it will most likely catch up in the coming years. Don Det is just one island of hundreds and is known for its white river dolphins. I'm gonna just give you a few pics and move on as we have a lot of ground to cover.
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These kids had their own homemade horses (Knights of Nigh! Ha - for any Monty Python fans)
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I had already organised my visa in Phnom Penh so it was just a matter of logistics. I decided to take a bus to the border and cross. The crossing was quick but the wait on the other side to get a bus took hours, this is why a book is necessary for travel!
kratie_1_009.jpg Immigration Office kratie_1_010.jpg The border crossing.

Finally, we were herded onto a bus, and off we were going. I had decided to stop off at Kratie and check it out as it was on the way and I was in no rush, plus it would give me time to plan out where I wanted to go in Cambodia. As soon as I got off the bus I was rushed by a lot of guys selling their hotel. One sounded ok and I agreed to come to check it out...it ended up being up like 6 flights of stairs and right down the back. I'd probably get lost.. it was a huge place. I checked out a lot of places and finally found something reasonable. A view from my balcony kratie_1_022.jpg This is the balcony.. lol kratie_1_099.jpg I liked the reflection ok...

Kratie was a riverside town, it had a central square market and it seemed the town then spread from there. Here are some pics of the area.. kratie_1_095.jpg Central market area. kratie_1_092.jpgkratie_1_090.jpgkratie_1_085.jpgkratie_1_064.jpgkratie_1_025.jpgkratie_1_023.jpgkratie_1_073.jpgMain street by the river.
No matter where you are there is always a temple... kratie_1_040.jpgkratie_1_049.jpgkratie_1_050.jpgkratie_1_052.jpgkratie_1_057.jpg

To tell you the truth I didn't do too much in Kratie. There is a place you can go and see the white river dolphins like in Don Det but I read about it costing like $20-30 when you get to the river etc which seemed like a bit of a ripoff and I was still on tight arse budgeting. I decided to amuse myself and head out at night which was eerie, to say the least, the place was dead at night but so busy during the day. I think places like that are the creepiest at night...like schools or carnivals. Here are some pics kratie_1_121.jpgkratie_1_123.jpg The marketplace from other pic at night. kratie_1_120.jpgkratie_1_101.jpg I found one little store open.

Well, Kratie got old after a few days so I decided it was time to head to the capitol making my way down south to where I had heard there were nice beaches. I organised a bus for the next day (always called a VIP bus). I'm loaded in and for once it seems not to be overcrowded but almost as soon as I start enjoying the extra room we stop and another minivan pulls up and they have a people exchange from theirs to ours, then we pick up a family in suburbia...I'm now cramped up with no room to move with 16 people in a 12-seater van. The van driver is also a maniac which doesn't help the matter...in the middle legs squashed together in a car filled only with locals I sit in agony for 6 hours. Oh and mid journey the driver runs over a dog and continues on casually at breakneck speed. We also pass a crash with bodies covered by bamboo mats, feet sticking out, and a van with an impact shattered windscreen :/

So I reach Phnom Penh central, by then people have been dropped off and I enjoy maybe the last hour in normal comfort. As soon as I get out I am barraged with tuk-tuk drivers trying to get my fee... I have a price of a dollar in mind to get where I need to go and see who takes it... I'm off and out, heading to the hostel I had looked up (cheapest I could find) that had dorms, it is mostly rooms in Cambodia like a lot of sth east Asia. kampot_1_005.jpg
The hostel was cheap but I was on the top floor below a tin roof which was loud when it rained and an oven when hot. Spent a while there enjoying the new people and cheap drinks :) After a while, I thought I had better do something more than drink and party.

I jumped on board with some other travellers and shared a tuk-tuk to see the killing fields. The killing fields were quite a somber experience. You are handed a headset for an audio guide which you take to areas matching the recording with the number of the spot. The strange thing was that, unlike other places I have visited, it is all quiet. The reflection of what the guides are telling you in that somber silence is quite something. Time and time again I have been reminded in my travels of how damned lucky I am to of been born in Australia. That we have no land borders with other countries. The atrocities that the Cambodian people had to endure were truly horrific and really not that long ago (Although in this particular case, it was more civil war). Which means that a lot of people still affected are alive today, including those that committed the war crimes. I don't have any photos as I thought it was bad form. Speaking of bad form, as soon as you come out of the place you are approached to come to a shooting range (By the way the rumour is true, you CAN shoot a cow with a bazooka!).

I decided it was time to move on and head south to Kampot. Usually, people bypass Kampot and go straight to the party area of Cambodia which is Sihanoukville. I had read up on it though and decided that Kampot is a good central hub for the places I wanted to visit and I could day trip to Sihanoukville. I'd had enough of the party vibe, and needed to recharge. The bus there was smooth sailing and again I was accosted with offers of tuk-tuks and hotels, they even have pictures on a big piece of cardboard. I chose the first reasonable looking one and was on my way, it had been a long ride but at least it was the big bus so not squishy. The next day I looked for something cheaper and found a gem. An Asian Arabian penthouse of a dorm! Plus the place had a pub and a free mini golf course, I was sold!
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Kampot was quite small and not so touristy which was a good change. I hired a bike and planned out a few days of exploring caves, salt fields, and abandoned French colonial estates. Here are some pics...
large_motoscoot_1_089.jpgmotoscoot_1_097.jpgmotoscoot_1_099.jpgmotoscoot_1_065.jpgmotoscoot_1_056.jpgmotoscoot_1_111.jpg I got lost here, which trail do I take to the cave I was sure to find... a huge pig and her piglets watched me with interest...motoscoot_1_104.jpg
Finally, I found a cave (I found out later that it was not the one I was looking for but ended up better). As soon as I turned off the engine of my motorbike I had three kids offering their tour services through the maze inside the cave. I took them up on it as it seemed they'd be coming along hassling me the whole way anyhow. I ended up paying them $1 U.S. each, Cambodia predominately uses American dollars, and are preferred. This cave had this part of it where a huge part of the ceiling inside was suspended in the air by not much support .. motoscoot_1_007.jpgmotoscoot_1_024.jpgmotoscoot_1_035.jpg
Here was a spooky picture that I got in the cave, can you see what I see?? It's like mirroring the way I'm taking the photograph... motoscoot_1_027.jpg The kids had showed me a large hole where they found a lot of bones from people the Khmer Rouge killed, it is rumoured the cave is haunted...

Coming back to town I finally decide to take a shot of the beauty store signs, dunno if it's just me but this wouldn't encourage me to come in... kampot_1_056.jpg and they are everywhere and worse than this sometimes, lol... here are a couple more of the town.. kampot_1_055.jpgkampot_1_043.jpgkampot_1_041.jpg

Next day a quick ride to Kep for a dip in the ocean.. motoscoot_1_118.jpgmotoscoot_1_126.jpgmotoscoot_1_151.jpgmotoscoot_1_152.jpgmotoscoot_1_176.jpg

The next place was the Bokor Mountains. This was the area where the French had built their church and housing, even a casino. All these buildings are now just dilapidated shells of their former beauty. They decided to build here due to the cooler climate that the altitude brought. It was a great ride of winding roads through the jungle I guess, as it is reported that tigers still roam wild there and I did not get eaten. The church and colonial buildings had an eerie presence, the moving mist only adding to it. At one time I could not see more than three metres ahead of myself the fog was so thick.
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On the way back I thought I might go find the Zoo and see what it was like. I had read that the zoo was quite bad a few years back and that WWF had intervened and has been helping the zoo get back on track. Health and safety were obviously not their first priority. Reaching the zoo I rode up to the parking area and proceeded to walk around. So in most zoos, you don't feed the animals but here I don't think they really cared or would sell you food. Also, the cages were right in your face too, so you could stick your hand in and pat that cute monkey if you wanted, and the same went for the tiger and lion cages. You could stick your arm in at any time you were that close, actually a kid did come and pat the tiger while I was there... I'm gonna hope that he was a worker there.
motoscooting_2_195.jpg I mean like you wouldn't want to give that a pat, lil kitty :)
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Now this was hard not to stick my hand in and pat... motoscooting_2_231.jpgmotoscooting_2_232.jpgmotoscooting_2_236.jpg and I was actually about to risk a pat on the fence till I saw this motoscooting_2_241.jpg
Later on down the path I saw this, which made me wonder how secure the lion cages were.. motoscooting_2_218.jpgty
If there was a mastermind in the zoo, perhaps even behind the jailbreak just pictured...it'd be this fella motoscooting_2_280.jpg
Here's the local party animal stayin up all night, bit bright today? motoscooting_2_307.jpg
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Some had the zoo life figured out... motoscooting_2_487.jpgmotoscooting_2_432.jpgmotoscooting_2_527.jpg
Lastly a jaunt down to Sihanoukville to check out these beaches, they were ok...plus a fishing village on the way was nice.
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I'm gonna leave it here as I have a lot more to cover, and I don't want to take up your whole day ;p
More to come!

Posted by CrackerjackHobo 22:56 Archived in Cambodia Tagged fields cambodia kampot angkor wat bike killing reap scooter siem phnom penh

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Hey! My names Diz - I really enjoyed your info about Kampot! What is the name of the hostel you stayed in? The asian arabian penthouse dorm? It looks awesome!

by Diz

Hi Diz, thanks!
The place is called "The magic sponge"..who knows why lol ... just by the round about there is a kewl local place that does real cheap rolls there at a stand, should check it out...good to take on a ride also when exploring. Happy travels :)

by CrackerjackHobo

Oh, and if you decide to hire a scooter, your best to go in town as they are cheaper than at the hostel.

by CrackerjackHobo

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