Really good pastries and fashion crises.

May 21, 2013 - Phnom Penh, Cambodia

The morning we left Saigon we had to be up really early. I have to say, Saigon is quite pleasant at 6 am. It's cool and quiet and we enjoyed mooching past the badminton players in the park on our way to breakfast. We found the best brekkie we've had since we've been away! Real coffee and real pastries!

Before we went away we did our malaria research and found that anti malarials weren't advised in any of the places we were going to as they were all low risk. However, having been bitten around 20 times in the first few days of being away (despite wearing deet!) I've been feeling much less brave. We were passing through a higher risk area on the bus, so i stepped out of the bathroom after my morning shower in my sad traveller trousers, socks, a vest and a long sleeved shirt I can button all the way to the top if needs be. Rachel burst out laughing, continuously took the mick and was embarrassed to be seen with me. But frankly, I don't care! I'm officially malaria paranoid and a nightmare to live with. Sorry Rach!

Border control was relatively smooth and I have a new visa in my passport. And I didn't get bitten! Woohoo!

Cambodia is surprisingly different to Vietnam. The scenery is very similar, if not slightly more lush here, but the government seem to have more money to spend on things like pavements and roads. Having said this, we've seen way more poverty here too. Come to think of it, I don't remember seeing a single homeless person in Vietnam. Whereas here you pass lots of women lying on the streets next to newborn babies.

It's a lot quieter here and easier to cross the road too. The strangest thing is that the Cambodian currency (riel) is used interchangeably with the US dollar. The cash machines give us dollars, and we get our change from restaurants in a mixture of the two currencies. Bizarre. The written language is massively different too. Cambodian looks almost Arabic whereas Vietnamese has a Latin alphabet following its time as a French colony.

We've only had one full day in Phom Penh but managed to pack in a lot despite the heat. When I thought to check at 4pm, it was 36 degrees. So it must have been bordering on 40 when we were out. The fact we're so far inland without any breeze means it's pretty stifling. Whilst looking around the museum today we started to feel a bit overwhelmed. We sat down and nailed a litre and a half of water very quickly. It's so easy to get dehydrated.

We visited the museum kind of by accident. We were heading for the palace, but were told it was closed for a couple of hours, so we had some time to kill. The museum turned out to be quite useful though - we're going to see the Angkor temples at the weekend and this served as some background knowledge.

When we finally got to the palace, Kingy was in and meeting with friend's so we weren't allowed near. We had a peek into the silver pagoda next to the palace which was impressive. However, they weren't letting anyone in there either and the famous silver tiles are covered with a rug. Booooo! They don't tell you any of this before you pay your entrance fee. Anyway, the gardens were absolutely beautiful and there were at least 20 gardeners tending to the part we were allowed into. The buildings themselves were amazing too so it was definitely worth a visit.

The heat and humidity were starting to get to us so we took a tuk tuk home. The driver was a total dude and had his own sound system installed on the tuk tuk, blaring out reggae remixes. He also told us he's travelled for a month to Vietnam and goes to the coast all the time for parties. How he manages all of this on a tuk tuk driver wage I don't know.

We've just had a top banana dinner in a fancy restaurant which trains up underprivileged street kids. The waiters were all very sweet and Rach couldn't stop raving about the place. I think she was quite moved.

We've just packed our rucksacks and we're back on the bus early tomorrow to go to Siem Reap. And yes I'll be dressing like a clown.


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