I left Battambang at 1pm on Friday and arrived in Siem Reap - after the most horrendous journey road-wise - at 6pm. National Route 6 (the stretch between Sisophon and Siem Reap) must be the worst road in Cambodia. Each time I travel on it the bulldozers & diggers (which are supposed to be repairing it) have made it even worse. The highlight of the journey was a boy on a buffalo who posed for me to take his photo. I was, however, in one foul mood by the time I reached my new 'home' - the Claremont Angkor Hotel www.claremontangkor.com It's a very nice boutique hotel, complete with gym and swimming pool on the top floor. It's located just off Wat Bo Road on the south side of the river, with Apsara Supermarket just around the corner and the main market/bar/restaurant area only 5 minutes walk away on the other side of the river. I was exhausted after the drive from Battambang so went for a $4 dinner at Queen BBQ (Craig will remember it from our very first visit to Cambodia) where they put a mini volcano on your table and you cook your own meat, fish, and vegetables. I think it will become one of my regular restaurants, as it's only a couple of streets from my hotel, and more importantly it's cheap and you can eat as much as you like!
Unfortunately I was unable to settle into my new abode properly as I had to drive back to Phnom Penh on Saturday morning to return the car. Shame - I had become used to the luxury of wheels & air con. This stretch of National Route 6 was ok - apart from the suicidal dogs - and I reached Phnom Penh (314km) in 5 hours after stopping off at a garage in Kampong Thom for coffee, whilst my car had a much deserved wash & scrub for 5000 Riel (60p). I'm back in the city until Wednesday morning as my time with The Cambodia Trust has been delayed until Tuesday, so I'm booked into a bit of a flea pit (it's not too bad, at least the bed linen is clean and there's a tv for entertainment) on Street 278 in Boeung Keng Kang 1 (BKK1) district, not far from the National Monument and home to most of the expats here. Saturday night I tried a nice cheap Italian restaurant called Pop Café on the Riverfront which did a decent glass of Merlot for $2.
Tonight, Sunday, I met up with Mary and Steve from The Cambodia Trust for a 'Phnom Penh City' cocktail at the roof bar of The Place - a new gym/restaurants/bar located on Preah Sihanouk Boulevard. It's a very impressive building, with chandeliers and a jacuzzi on the roof, but it's very unlikely to appeal to many of the people in Phnom Penh - probably only the wealthy Khmers in their Lexus 4x4s. Steve told me that it's targeted at an expat clientele, but the majority of expats in Cambodia are not here for this type of luxury. However it was a very nice evening, with fantastic views overlooking the National Monument, and the cocktail was pretty good too