I finally dragged myself away from the relaxing Don Khone and over the border into Cambodia. The border crossing was a bit of a joke which involved paying not only for the visa but for the stamp, the taking of your temperature, a charge for not having a passport photo (they were disappointed when you showed that you did have one) etc etc a dollar here two dollars there....
Anyway back on the bus and I was next to Cambodian who worked for the government agricultural department. He was from Phnom Penh but had been sent to work in Laos and was on the bus home to visit his family. A long journey by road! I decided to make Kratie my first stop in Cambodia. Famous for viewing the famous Irriwaddy dolphins of which there are few left. Immmediately I got off the bus I thought it had a very different feel to it from Laos - less laid back really and people ready to take cash off you. It was easier to feel a little bit ripped off and you can't trust people so easily. Having just left the island I had to get on red alert quickly. Also I only had a day to do what ever I wanted to do there and ended up booking onto a one day motorcycling trip with an Irish couple. I got cross because as I sat chatting to them by the Mekong my ankles were ravished by mosquitoes. I hadn't even noticed the sun had gone down. I also took a walk around the market and it was complete choas and strewn with litter. And I couldn't believe the clothes. A good many of the women were wearing pyjamas and so were a lot of the kids. Pyjamas with handbags, floppy hats and mules. Or socks with flip flops is all the rage. You see whole families on motorbikes all wearing pyjamas at any time of day and no one seems to know why! Do they not realise they are pyjamas or can they not be bothered to get dressed in th morning?
The Motorcycle Diaries. I set off with Col and Amanda the next morning for our trip out. We each had a bike and a driver but curiously only the drivers had helmets. We went to a small wat and a tobacco plantation then crossde the river by ferry. There were a lot of floating villages - simple shacks literally floating on the river and housed by Vietnamese fishemen and their families. The ride over the river was lovely as we passed pretty villages set along palm fringed lanes. The Mekong river was very wide at this point and we went down to the beach to view dolphins. I'm not sure it was the best place or best time of the day but we did see a couple playing around. We stopped also for our packed lunch which was a polystyrene container packed with rice and topped with dried up bits off beef (I think). We continued along the road and watched people extracting sugar from the sugar palm and an orchard of soursop fruit. The juice is nice from a can! Crossing back over the river was an experience. Anyone and everything (mostly strapped to motorbikes) was on. Toddlers in motorcycle helmets, people in pyjamas with bad teeth, huge rocks, sacks of rice, bits of machinery, whatever. All on. We climbed up to a wat on a hill which was quite an exertion at the end of the day but worth it for the breeze and the view. We also stopped to buy some local confectionary which is rice and coconut milk and beans wrapped in rice paper and stuffed into bamboo. Okay if you like coconut! You see people eating it all the time especially on bus journeys.
In the evening I sat in a cafe for a couple of hours avidly trying to finish my book so I could exchange it for another I had my eye on. Not an easy feat due to numerous and lengthy power failures. These are a very common occurence in this part of the world!. But I managed to finish it only to be told I needed to leave TWO books in order to get one back. Why would I have two books? He charged me $2 instead and I went back to the hotel all cross. Then I was kept awake most of the night by an appalling sqeaking noise coming from right outside my window. I have since found out it is the noise of a large gecko! I recorded it on my mobile and a German girl enlightened me a few days ago. It gives me the shivers now. Added to this my ankles were itching like fury and there was a loudspeaker (very loud speaker) which kept repeating an annoying message advertising food. Not a good night.