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Loose in Cambodia

Heading North

CAMBODIA | Sunday, 17 February 2008 | Views [563]


It’s time to leave Phnom Penh behind and embrace the rural provinces to the North – destination Kampong Thom. Somin and Sophavid picked me up in the Fred Hollows four-wheel-drive and we firstly went to breakfast on the outskirts of the city. The roads are still busy out this way but the majority of vehicles are either motorcycles or heavy trucks packed with as many humans that can fit. The only problem is that the roads are smaller so overtaking can be a hairy experience!

We piled back into the car to continue the journey and made various stops en route to Kampong Thom. The first was to pick up ‘lettuce flower’ to eat. This was a quick stop with exchanges made from the driver’s window (since the cars are right-hand-drive but they drive on the right-hand-side of the road –a tad confusing!) The next stop was for longer as we browsed a local market. I was then reminded of my promise to try spider and before I knew it, I was whisked back up into the car armed with a bag of deep-fried things – spiders, cicadas and other unidentified bugs.

Fresh and full from a feast of insects and arachnids (which tasted like soy sauce) we drove for another 20 km or so to reach a remote temple called Phnom Santuk. This active wat was nestled on top of a mountain with over 800 steps leading up to it. At the base of the mountain there was a rest area with bamboo huts and hammocks. We rested while Sophavid helped a local family cook us a lunch of chicken and fish. Suddenly all attention was diverted to a young man riding into the reserve on his bicycle. We invited him to have lunch with us and we later found out his name was Hans and he was from Holland. He had already ridden 4500 kilometres throughout South East Asia and would continue for another week or so en route back to Thailand. This guy was hungry. We didn’t have to worry about having left-overs with Hans on ‘Mission Feed Me’! All that riding made him a ravenous beast!

After lunch we embarked on our journey to climb up to the wat. The humidity made sure we felt every one of the 800-an- something steps! However, the climb was worth it for the view and the cheeky monkeys who followed us around at the top. In the main temple a fortune teller was predicting our futures and gave us holy water to pour over our heads. My fortune was along the lines of if I have lost something, pray to Buddha and I will find it again. I had a sudden freak out about where I had put my passport...

We returned to Kampong Thom for some dinner and then to the hotel for much needed rest and the reassurance that my passport was still where I left it.

Tags: On the Road

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