Hello again!! Sorry its about 6 months late... and a long one!!!
So the day of Tom and Carole's (T&C) arrival, me and Chloe had found a better hotel, and for the same price and so got up and moved over in the morning. It was still raining so we couldn't do too much and so sat in a cafe grabbed a late breakfast (infact i had my first full fry up since we've been away) and drunk a few coffees. The rain subsided early afternoon and so we took a walk around and then headed back to the hotel to await T&C. Around 5pm a tuktuk rolled up to the hotel with both onboard, was great to see them, after the initial hugs and kisses, mainly between me and tom, we dropped their bags off and headed out for a couple of beers and a catch up. After a few beers we headed back to the hotel so T&C could unload all the goodies which they had shipped out for us, the majority were sadly for Chloe as her birthday had just passed, but there was some bits for me, most importantly my england shirt for the world cup and some marmite! After the gift exchanges we headed out for dinner and a couple more beers!
Next day we were up fairly early and headed out for a day walking around the city, we took in a few Wats, a couple of markets and generally soaked up everything Phnom Penh had to offer! The evening was spent eating curry!
T&C's third day was a rather heavy day, but we couldnt leave phnom penh without going to the S21 prison and the Killing Fields, from the names of these 2 places im sure you can already conclude these arent places filled with joy and happiness! We grabbed a TukTuk, this involved Tom sparking a bidding war between two tuktuk drivers, and we got a great price for the ride, and headed off for the S21 prison. A brief history of the prison; this was orignally a primary school which the Khymer rouge took control of and turned it into a "prison", not your average prison, but one which detained, tortured and executed anyone who was deemed to be against the Khymer rouges policies. The prison itself now is more of a museum which documents the atrocities which occured there. After finishing our tour of the prison we headed off to the killing fields, what a way to lift your spirits. The killing fields were just as horrific, if not more harrowing, the fields are one of the hundreds of sites in which thousands upon thousands of innocent people were brought and executed in various horrific ways, the worst probably being the "baby killing tree", as the name suggests this is a tree on which the Khymer rouge excuted babies...by slamming them into it over and over! The history of Cambodia, and the sheer number of people executed is mind blowing, and the two visits we made will stick in the mind for a long time.
After the killing fields we headed off for some lunch and then returned to the hotel, where we donned on some respectable clothing and headed to the Grand Palace, we had tried the previous day to visit but you are required to wear elbow length sleeves and shorts below the knee and so we had been turned away. The grand palace was fairly impressive, but not worthy of the price tag on entrance, also the sun was now full in the sky and made it very uncomfortable walking around. I was looking forward to seeing the silver pagoda which was in the grounds of the palace, after seeing so many temples, wats and pagodas during our travels i was excited at seeing something a bit different, and the description i'd read gave the impression of a large, silver coated temple....it turned out to be the same as all the others, but with a silver plated floor...which you couldnt really see due to it being carpeted...turd! After our busy day we headed back, prepared for the evening ad headed out for some dinner and then went to find somewhere to watch the chelsea vs villa game. Tom asked the waiter at the bar we were in where would be good to go and watch it, the waiter kindly pointed us in the direction of Candy bar with big screens showing the games, we didnt clock on as to what kind of bar this was until Tom opened the door and was greeted by about 40 scantily clad girls all screeching "Herrroooooo" as soon as he poked his head in, apart from the clue in the name of the bar, we had ignored the fact that every other bar down this street had ladies sitting outside and were all called names such as "69 bar", "pussycat", "meeting place" etc, we should have gathered what was going to be inside! Anyway we managed to find a bar next to our hotel showing the game and sat down to enjoy it!
Leathers has told me I have to write a note that this is no longer him writing... He told me it wont be as witty or good so I have to make clear to everyone that it is me, Chloe Smith that is writing the blog now.
So... The following morning we jumped in a tuktuk and got on the bus to Siem Reap. This was by far the plushest coach we've been on so far, so we spread out and made the most of it. The journey to Siem Reap was pretty short and the hotel we had booked was surprisingly nice. We had a quick swim and a bite to eat before heading out for our first experience of the great Angkor Wat. We invested in a one day pass which included a free Sunset which we were now going to see. We were dropped off at the foot of a hill and climbed to the top to the temple for the Sunset. We were told this was the best temple to visit at sunset - obviously thousands of other people had been told the same thing as it was rammed! We had great views up there but sadly the sky clouded over just before the sun started setting! We went back early the next morning, around 5 am I think to get to the main temple Angkor Wat for sunrise. This is the biggest of all the temples and it really was a highlight. Similar to the night before the temple was very crowded but as it was so much bigger it didn't matter too much and we got to see a great sunrise over the temple. That day we walked around A LOT of temples, the highlights being the Tomb Raider temple and the one with all the faces (cant remember the name now!) I think mum and dad were pretty templed out so they decided to give the 2nd day a miss, but me and Sam decided to go for one more day... we couldn't get enough! We saw some smaller, less crowded temples which were really spread out so we sat back and enjoyed the beautiful journeys through the countryside in the tuktuk. After a full day we decided we had had enough and gave the final sunset a miss, heading back to Siem Reap to meet mum and dad for dinner. Dad decided he wanted try out the fish massage so after dinner we headed to a market, walked around and then ended up with our feet in a fish tank. The small fish eat all the dry dead skin on your feet and it tickles like hell. Sam couldnt get his feet in at all, and much to the owner and passerbys amusement he giggled like a girl every time one of the fish touched him.
Despite dad asking various travel agents if they have buses going to 'Chow Mein' we got our bus to KOH CHANG the following morning. We had a bit of a walk and a wait at the border in the intense heat but it all went very smoothly despite hearing horror stories of this particular journey. There was however a lot of waiting around, including a 3 hour wait at a random hotel just over the Thai border where dad made a nice little German friend and decided to get the next bus with him. Me, Sam and mum (who was worried the whole way that dad wouldn't make it on his own) met up with him at the ferry port. We then had a final boat and then taxi ride to our huts on Koh Chang where we checked in and went to a lovely seaside restaurant for some sorely missed thai cuisine. Im not sure how much Sam had missed it but his guts sure hadn't (he had yet another 'episode' that night!)
After a much needed lie in the next day we set off to the beach and soaked up the sun. We booked a new place to stay that was right on the beach and spent an afternoon swimming and sunbathing. The next morning we moved to our new bungalows and got some scooters to explore the island. We drove up most of the West coast, booked mum and dad in for an elephant trek the following day and checked out some lovely beaches. It was on this journey that mum and dad had an accident on their scooter, flying past us, skidding 10 meters down the road and narrowly missing a truck coming the other way. Luckily both were ok apart from some horrible cuts and bruises.. which I probably made worse by making them apply pure alcohol to... ouchy! We tried to forget that episode and the next day mum and dad went on their trip with the elephants. We missed out on this as we had done something similar when we were in Chiang Mai. It sounded great though, they got to bath with the elephants, feed them and ride them. We decided to head to the South of the island on our scooter and we found a gorgeous fishing village and little beach so we soaked up some rays and chilled there for the afternoon. The next day the four of us went down to the fishing village and beach and in the evening had some drinks and watched the sunset, then had dinner and a wander. The next day we went on a snorkelling trip, dads cuts had got much worse and he was advised by the doctor to keep it clean and dry so he sat on the boat with a beer and watched us. The snorkelling was some of the best we have done, and we saw hundreds of fish and really gorgeous coral. On our last night in Koh Chang we had a nice meal on the beach and watched some fire shows.
The next morning we grabbed a taxi to the port and boarded our boat over to the mainland, we had quite a wait the other side and then a 7 hour journey into Bangkok so we were pretty exhausted by the time we arrived. We booked into a big hotel in the middle of town and headed out for an explore in the evening. Whilst checking into our room I randomly bumped into someone I worked with at the FT - the 2nd person Iv now bumped into without knowing they were there - shows what a small world it is!! The next day we decided to just walk around the streets of Bangkok, we checked out some malls and markets and saw the big protests on the streets. While we were there the Reds were trying to overthrow the government by staging big protests through the streets; at this time it all seemed peaceful and we chatting to some of the protesters. On mum and dads final day with us we decided to go to the big weekend market a little out of town, this place was huuuge and sold everything you could imagine. Somehow we found each other at the end and got a cab back to our hotel.. On the way back we saw hundreds of police and military rushing towards the centre of town and we knew something had kicked off!
We finally made it back through all the traffic and were strolling up Koh San Road towards our hotel when suddenly people started running towards us. The market stall holders started packing up quickly and people started boarding up their shop fronts. We ran quickly to our hotel and had a rushed goodbye with mum and dad so they could grab a taxi and hopefully make it to the airport! Sam and I booked a bus out for the next morning and locked ourselves in the hotel room. I was pretty scared so we just hung about in the room, ordered room service and worked out what to do next. After a little while indoors we got curious and walked to the now deserted top of Khoa San Road. There was a big riot going on, the Reds versus the police and army, we saw a few people running away that had been gassed so we thought it was best to turn around!! That night was really strange; we sat by the rooftop pool and had a few beers whilst listening to the riots around us. There were lots of bombs going off, shooting all around us, lots of cheering and thousands of lanterns going up in the sky. It was all very bizarre, Thais are a crazy bunch!