Saturday, 2 June 2007

31st May – Cambodia – Phnom Penn

31st May – Cambodia – Phnom Penn
Horribly early start this morning – 4am!! To get our flight to Phnom Penn. We all felt pretty crappy but also rather excited to be going.
Flying over Cambodia was amazing if rather surprising. It seemed like an awful lot of countryside with hardly any roads. It couldn’t have been better weather as there were no clouds, so flying into Phnom Penn we got our first glimpses of the country and it looked like nowhere we had visited up to now.
The airport itself was very small, smaller even than Liverpool and the visa process was very quickly done. Our pre-arranged driver was waiting for us with a comfortable looking Toyota Camry and so started our long trip to Siem Reap. The journey took four and a half hours and at times we wondered whether we would make it in one piece. The road is the best in Cambodia and if they have road rules we didn’t spot any apart from the fact that the biggest vehicle has right of way.
It was immediately apparent as we drove through PP that this was a much poorer place than anywhere we had seem in Thailand. We stopped about half way to use a bathroom at a restaurant and a very dirty little boy of about six came up to the car and asked for money. There was a snack bar outside the restaurant so I beckoned him over and with some hand gestures asked him what he would like. He chose a packet of mixed dried fruits, so I bought those and three packs of crisps for us. I handed him the fruit but he still stood there so I gave him a packet of crisps too. Even in Thailand we never saw children begging so it was a bit upsetting, although he didn’t look hungry, just awfully neglected.
After a very long drive we arrived at the Two Dragons guesthouse. Very clean and basic rooms with ultra helpful and friendly staff. We were all rather hungry so we decided to get a sandwich at the restaurant out front. Having been up since 4am we had all started to feel it so we decided to rest for a bit before going out exploring.
Unfortunately a huge storm ruined out plans for exploring so we caught up with some work and the girls had a snooze.
Everyone felt like pizza so we caught a remorque – moto (tuk tuk) to a restaurant we had read about in our guide book. All the streets are just dirt really, only the main ones are actually paved. There seem to be an awful lot of small children just hanging around. While we were eating our dinner a young boy came and stood outside the restaurant with a man who could have been his father or grandfather, it was hard to tell. This man had no eyes – not just blind – his eyes had been gouged out, probably during the Khmer Rouge’s reign. I think we were all so shocked that we didn't do anything. After we felt really bad that we hadn't helped at all.
I think being here is going to give us all a lot to think about.

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