People visit Cambodia to see Angkor Wat. Fact! So in order to reach this tourist trap Richard, Craig (his mate visiting from Korea) and I decided to take a two day tour from Ho Chi Minh to Phnom Penh (Cambodia’s capital) via the Mekong Delta.
After a long time on the bus and a slightly disappointing floating market boat tour we had a nice sunset Mekong cruise along the Hau river to reach our nights destination in Chau Doc which surprisingly provided us with a highlight. The three of us plus another guy Hyo went out for a wander where we came across a group of men sitting around watching English Premier League action. Not sure if it was a bar or just someone’s house (as the Vietnamese don’t really drink alcohol so much) we piled in to this open area just off the street and the pregnant wife of the owner had to be sent out to get our beer each time we ordered which we felt a little guilty about so we only ordered the five drinks each!! Often no refrigerated beer in ‘Nam so ice is sometimes added to keep it cold which ruins the taste and with the huge blocks of ice added it took quite a long time to consume each beer.
The next morning we went to a floating village and floating fish farms via local rowing boats which certainly satisfied our expectations of what we felt the delta should have been like. Once at the village of Cham I mixed it with the locals for a game of volleyball Vietnam-style which meant using a shuttlecock-like object rather than a ball which made it difficult to play but good fun nonetheless despite the best rally being only about six or seven! The rest of the morning and all afternoon was then spent on boats which took us into Cambodia where a sh*tload of us were squeezed into a mini-bus to take us along a very bumpy road in order to complete the journey to Phnom Penh.
We persuaded a tuk-tuk driver to give us an hour tour of Phnom Penh while we drank our beers. Credit has to be given to the driver as he did awfully well to make it last an hour as its a quite a small place. He had to resort to showing us the seediest bars in town or maybe thats the standard given the amount of sex tourists who visit such places.
The following morning we were straight out of Phnom Penh and in a shared taxi ($30 between us for the 4 hour ride) going to the beach resort of Sihanoukville in the south west of Cambodia. That was an adventure in itself given some of the ridiculous blind overtaking that these Michael Schumacher-wannabe taxi drivers do.
Once in Sihanoukville we did another fairly unimpressive tuk-tuk tour before ending up at a beautiful beach resort which was rammed with tourists which was quite surprising as we had hardly seen a sole anywhere else. As soon as we stepped on to the beautiful beach we were harassed left, right and centre by the locals trying to sell us fruit, massages, manicures, t-shirts, drinks and the usual crap. Difficult to really relax but once the sun started to go down they disappeared.
Just the one night there and the next morning we were back in a taxi heading back to Phnom Penh where we would get another taxi up to Siem Reap which is the gateway to the temples of Angkor. Along the way we stopped at a couple of little places at the side of the main road (no doubt friends of the driver who wanted us to spread our tourist dollars among them) which gave us a bit more of an insight into the lives of the Cambodians (though not too much) as all we had really experienced was a country which had sold its soul in return for the dollars which are basically all made off the back of Angkor Wat.