On the road to somewhere

Cambodia -Part 6(?) – a capital idea

Leaving Siem Reap is hard. It’s a lovely place and, even ignoring Angkor and its treasures, it’s my kind of place. Just the right size, friendly and a big KFC!. 

We come to a bridge dating from the Angkor period. It’s in a picturesque setting in a small town but the river that runs beneath it is a dodgy browny -green colour. I don’t know if there are any fish in there because I simply can’t see in its murky depths. 

The bridge seems to be in good shape but I don’t know how heavily restored it is. What I do know is that, at one end there is a multi headed Naja statue under which a little Chinese lad is being forced to pose by his inanely grinning parents. The lad is of a sensitive disposition and they insist on seating him beside a tray upon which reposes a severed pigs head!. Everytime he sits down he accidentally bumps the tray and the pigs head slides towards him whereupon he gives a bleat of terror and tries to leave the scene only to be dragged back again!. 

The village is very much of the crafty type with some very fine furniture on display but it looks incredibly heavy and I wonder who buys it and how it’s transported to its destination. I certainly wouldn’t want to be carrying it about and trying to move it if I’d set it down in the wrong place. 

Cambodia passes by in a blur of rice fields and greenery. It’s wonderfully pleasant. A green and pleasant land if you will. It’s very peaceful and people move with a purpose as if they’ve got somewhere to go and something to do. It’s all rather lovely. 

Lunch is taken in the middle of nowhere. Seriously I have no idea where am I bar that it seems to be a hotel miles from anywhere. It’s called the Sambor Village and, again, sorry, it’s really rather lovely!. It has a shallow inviting pool and a number of small chalets dotted around flower enriched gardens. It’s all a bit idyllic. 

Lunch is very good. Pumpkin soup (and I dislike pumpkin) of passable quality followed by meat, two veg and mashed potato!. Yes, mash. Makes a change from the obligatory rice. Dessert is fruit. Melon I think, of various varieties and some pineapple. 

As we are talking about food we should mention the fried spiders of Skuon!. Tarantulas are widely eaten in Cambodia and we make a roadside stop to take a closer look at the delicacies on offer. Our guide warns us against eating anything because some of the offerings look somewhat the worse for wear and we don’t know how fresh they are. To be honest the spiders look a bit inoffensive, not the huge hairy beasts of myth. There are also a variety of insects and bugs of differing sizes and calorific content but I pass as my guide suggests. I do note however, that he munches happily on a bug or two. If he’s sick  tomorrow then we all know why!. 

We arrive in Phnom Penh to find our hotel is situated right opposite the US Embassy. I could have strung up a zip line and been across in a few seconds. From our vantage point we are able to watch people coming and going and moped crashes with alarming regularity as we seem to be right on top of one of Phnom Penhs accident hotspots. They don’t crash into each other, they just slide around the corner and then tip over throwing driver and passenger into the road. Nobody stops to help, they just get up, brush themselves down and set off again. 

And it’s back to food again. Descending to dinner we find juicy rib eye steaks, garlic mash, broccoli, sticky, gooey spare ribs and a barrel load of chocolate Italian ice cream!!. And it’s all mine. God that meal was so good it makes me salivate just thinking about it. 

Our day ends with drinks in the bar (make mind a coke), a good chill session with convivial travelling companions and the embarrassing sight of our English tour leader walking out of the bar and refusing to settle his bill because the Cambodian waitress whose English is absolutely fine, is belittled in a “I can’t understand what you’re saying” way. A deeply shameful act which we can only partially redeem by settling the bill with a generous tip. 

Some people eh ?. 

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