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Laos to Cambodia

The love affair with hair raising bus and plane travel continues!

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Hello there

Sorry for the delay in getting this post up, Southern Laos and Cambodia don't exactly have the best internet access in the world! So yep, you guessed it, we're in Cambodia. Let me tell you how we got here :)

So after Luang Prabang we decided to head south to the captial Vientiane and see what it had to offer. This involved a supposed 6 hour bus journey, but nothing is as it seems in South East Asia! The drive out of Luang Prabang is weavy to say the least. You twist and turn all the way up the hills...and then you twist and turn all the way back down them again (anyone that could introduce the concept of tunnels of bridges here would make a killing!). The bus tips at angles you wish it wouldn't tip at, over crevices you wish you hadn't seen, past landslides over the road and made out of the road, and from the lush tarmac to the pot-holed wastelands. We arrived safe though, if not 4 hours later then expected :)

Vientiane is a nice place, but it's population is smaller then Reading so as you can imagne there's not a great deal to do there! We visited the main Wat (Buddhist home), saw their fake Arc De Triumph, and visited the COPE museum which is dedicated to helping the victims of the bombs that America dropped during the Vietnam conflict (amazing and just horrible at the same time. Hard to believe that a country that wasn't really involved got hit so hard!). While we were in Vientiane the Mekong was looking to burst it's banks too so there were sandbags everywhere and a lot of activity down by the riverside. We think it finally burst a day or so after we left which was nice of it :)

So after Vientiane we headed for Cambodia and the capital Phnom Penh. Cambodia is a hell of a lot different to Laos, and we'd heard mixed reports about how safe the capital was so we were a little apprehensive to say the least. We booked ourselves into a little guesthouse (one we later found out had been frequented by Elton John (they had a signed piccie and everything!)), and the owner (who looked and spoke a lot like Jimmy Wah from 'Good Morning Vietnam') and his family turned out to be the most helpful people we've met so far! Phnom Penh is a bit grubby though, with lots of rubbish on the streets and more poverty then we'd seen in a while, but if you cut through it all it has some nice places to visit. We saw the National Museum (a stunning building built in traditional Wat styles) on the first day, and then went to the FCC (Foreign Correspondents Club) in the evening where we counted 16+ geckos crawling on the walls and ceilings much to Sue's delight.

The following day we hired a driver and set about seeing some of the sites of the city. Naturally first up was a shooting range (a lotttttt of guns in Cambodia). Sue and I choose an AK47 and the M1 to shoot, and let me tell you, it was so much fun! We got two targets and had go's using the single shot and then automatic function (the latter knocks you back of your feet!). We did pretty well when using single shot, but the backside of a barn would have been safe as houses when we were using the automatic!

After this we headed to the Killing Fields where we would be presented with the horrific sight of 8000+ skulls and over 120 mass graves the Khmer Rouge left during their reign of terror and madness. It's a pretty sobering sight seeing these skulls and reading all about what happened there, but it's nice to see that something is being done to lay these people to rest. After that we headed to S21, a former school turned into a prison and torture camp. This was even worse as you got to see the conditions of the prisoners (cells no bigger then a single bed, chained up all day and only let out to be tortured etc) and read real stories about many of the people involved. Something I'd recommend seeing but not something I'd like to go back to.

In the afternoon we went to the Russian Markets (crazy local markets selling all kinds of weird and wonderful things) and then the Royal Palace (a stunning place that houses, amongst other things, a full emerald Buddha and a room with a solid silver floor!). In the evening we went to a local restaurant called 'Friends'. Awesome little place which takes former street kids and trains them to be chefs etc. Its a not-for-profit organisation that ploughs all the money back into helping the kids, and god knows they need it!

Right, waffed on enough here. Not actually up to speed with where we currently are but can't keep on at you :)

Hope all is well where you all.

Sharm and Sue

Posted by SooMagoo 02:06 Archived in Laos

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