We got another coach late morning to take us to Cambodia. Getting our Cambodian visas was a doddle compared to the hassle we went through with Vietnam! All we had to was fill in a few forms, had our fingerprints taken, paid some money and bam, we had the visas! Mischa got scared in the quarantine area when they pulled a gun-like object to her chest *little scream* "what you doing?!" it was just a temperature detector to see if she got fever or not! Haha!
We arrived at Phnom Penh bus station, expecting to meet Mischa and Coco's friend Gemma Smith except where we were at didn't look like a bus station. A friendly man called Mohammed explained that there were lots of bus stops round this city based on the company you booked with! Great(!) Gemma S had no idea where we were coming from and we didn't have her address for Mohammed to take us there. So we used his wifi to try and contact Genma S but to no avail. The shop was closing up and our bus was the last one to come into the city, so we agreed to find accommodation for one night and arranged to meet Gemma S the next day.
Mohammed took us to a cheap guesthouse with giving us a little tour of the city on the way, and a bit of background info! Bless him! The hostel he took us to was more like a hotel! We had a bed each and a bath ensuite!! Whooooop! We contacted Gemma S again and she picked us up the next morning!
We met her housemate Tashi over breakfast and took a tuk tuk to their house. We had a chill out day at the house, catching up with Gemma S and finding out about stuff to do in the area, and where to visit in Cambodia.
Gemma knew a friendly Cambodian named Meng. He knew ASL and Cambodian sign language and had set up his own business - 'Cambodian deaf tours". (He was like our personal tuk tuk driver too!) All we had to do was text him to pick us up, and he would take us to where we wanted to go and wait for us....he's a CHAMP!
We went to Tuol Sleng Museum. It originally used to be a school but in the Pol Pot war days they took over it and turned into a torture camp used to interregote a lot of innocent men, children and women with babies.
Again it was a bit much to see, like the museum in Vietnam, seeing the old blood on floor, bed and torture tools on display knowing that it was only 33 years ago it all finally stopped.
We went onto the Killing Fields of Choeung Ek, where the people from the torture prison would have gone after to be killed. It used to be a Chinese grave yard, so the soldiers took over it to cover up what they were really doing to the Cambodians. There were real skulls, bones and some skeletons found from local farmers looking for food and they are still finding more bones and teeth (as we did when we walked around.) The people had their heads cut off, buried in mass graves and then a chemical was poured to rid of any evidence!! The whole place had a eerie feel to it!!!
We needed a bit of cheering up after the day we had so Gemma S took us to a Cambodian deaf club. It was a lot different to what we're used to! Music was pounding away, people were gathered around in groups doing different activities. They asked us to join in so Alysha went to the sewing group. She attempted to sew but was put to shame after looking at the others sewing skillfull work and doing it much quicker! Some boys made mini origami t-shirts and gave them to Coco and Mischa!
We all tried talking to some of the people, but it was hard as they were doing Cambodian sign bit too fast for us to understand!
It was still nice to see a community spirit, especially since it was only 10 years ago the Cambodians deaf people have their own recognised language! They used to communicate with ASL (American Sign Language) There are generally more understanding about deafness and the stigma is slowly getting erased.
We woke up early the next morning to go to the southern part of Cambodia near the coast line! Our first stop was Kampot, a village by the river! It was so quiet so we stayed there for a night before making our way to Sihanouk Ville. There was a restaurant where they served delicious pancakes that Mischa had 6, yes, 6 pancakes in one go!!!!
It's a pretty beach part of Cambodia. We headed to the beach as soon as we arrived, the sand is soooo soft and the water is blood-warm!
We took some sunbeds and was immediately hounded by a group of Cambodian women offering massages, pedicure, manicures, bracelets and threading. They were quite insistent, Gemma had her legs threaded, Coco- eye brows and legs threaded, Alysha- under arms threaded and Mischa had a pedicure painted purple. The next day Mischa also had a massage and manicure! (They were dirt cheap and VERY good at their job!) but they were so rude, kept looking all of our body parst and saying "Hairy! Need thread! Massage? No? Look, hairy, me thread, yes?"
We chilled by the beach for the afternoon and went out in the evening. We had a lot of shots, tried Cambodian Jagermiester (lethal) and had buckets of whiskey again we started at the top of the hill and worked our way down to the beach bars.
We stayed in this area for 3 nights. One of the days we hired a motorbike which Alysha and Mischa were terrified about! Mischa had a go test driving, but was very nervous after her last crash and was still wobbly. Too wobbly for Alysha to even try and get on the back so they could share. Alysha had a trial drive, after a nervous start, and getting used to the bike, she managed to go around the block. We agreed to get them anyway hoping that the practice will pay off. We filled up our scooters with petrol, and we're about to go beach-hopping as there are 4 in the area and we wanted to do all of them.
Mischa almost had a crash at the roundabout, trying to brake to stop so she could look around instead she reved the engine and went shooting into the roundabout. Luckily there were not that many cars at the roundabout and she was ok. But it was like watching Mr.Bean Gemma said! We managed to do 3 beaches, dipping in the seas, sunbathing! It was just a lovely day feeling free! We even saw some monkeys by a roadside, so cute!
We came back to our hostel for another night out as it was our last night, we were sad to be leaving Sihanouk Ville as it was a cool, laid back place and we had a lot of fun that weekend.
We got a bus back to Phnom Penh late afternoon and shockingly, we found our way back to Gemma S house without getting lost in the one way roads!
The next day Mischa and Alysha went with Gemma S to see some more sights around the area. We found out that the city was named after a lady who was the first lady ruler of Cambodia. Penh had a temple and statue built after her....girl power at its best!
We wanted to go to an orphanage that we had contacted previously. Meng, our tuk-tuk driver took us to the poorest part of the area, the difference was obvious by crossing that bridge into poverty In the end we couldn't find the orphanage, even asking around the locals they didn't know. So instead we visted a deaf school as we had already purchased some toys, pencils and paper for the children and there wasn't any point in keeping it.
The children were a lot more friendlier than they were in Thailand, so we had a quick chat with some of them and they were so cute.
We returned back to the house, to pick up Coco and Gemma to go out that night to a Cambodian food village, then funfair then early night before we all head to Siem Riep.
We got a bus to Siem Reap very early in the morning and the 8 hours journey wasn't so bad. We got to our hostel that was already booked with the package deal we had in Bangkok. The hostel was cute and even had a big cage outside with a peacock in it, random! We all went to the night market, ate out and then had a fun night on the tiles at appropriately named street - "Pub Street!" we had a drink at Red Pitcher Piano bar named after Angelina Jolie, when she was here filming for Tomb Raider.
We had a day round the town, visited lot of shops, found a swimming pool nearby and sunbathed all day. Then we booked a tuk-tuk to take us to Angkor Wat the next day and had an early night.
We woke up at 5am to meet the tuk-tuk and unfortunately Gemma wasn't feeling so well, and kept going to the toilet all night so she had to stay behind. Coco, Alysha and Mischa shared a tuk-tuk with another German man called Nicholas. We all set off to Angkor Wat excitedly, chatting with the man to get to know him more. When we arrived, it was light but no sunrise yet and we sat at the main temple, waiting with many others for a spectacular view to come. The sunrise was amazing with the temple in front of it, it really catches your breath and we all felt quite privileged to have experienced that.
We walked around looking at the different buildings, taking photos and learning more about our companion for the day! Words can't really describe our experience, except that it was amazing and others should definitely visit it too!
We returned back to Gemma, showed her the photos before heading out again, we had a spare night before heading back to Bangkok to travel to the Gulf of Thailand!
We took a bus to Bangkok, stopping at the tourist office where we had booked our package deal with. It took the man a split second to recall who we were and it was hugs all around! We picked up our bags that we left last time, slightly panicking as to how they would fit into our backpacks with other stuff! (Luckily all managed to fit in JUSt about.....)
Finally around 9pm we were on our VIP bus, taking us to the pier where we would board a boat to take us to Koh Tao!