Sunday 4th October
We’re in a new country!! Today, Cambodia! So, new currency (although the U.S. $ is King here), new cigarettes, and new beer!!!! Our six hour bus journey saw us across the border ok. However, as usual, a very dodgy bus company, and the rear 2/3 of the bus were ram packed with goods from Vietnam that the drivers were bringing back, so only the first 1/3 of seats available! And it was blatantly obvious at the border that the drivers paid the border staff not to search the bus!! So far we’ve only been to our hotel in Phnom Penh, and we’re relaxing at the rooftop pool for a couple of hours before we go and explore.
The second day of the Mekong Delta trip was also brilliant, including a good bike ride to see an old VC stronghold, and an incredible market selling everything possible! Most of it still alive!
We met some great people on the trip, especially our two new lovely Israeli friends Li-Or and Liraz, two sisters travelling in Cambodia and Vietnam. And also a father and son from Holland. The father had just retired and they were having a trip together. He was a really interesting guy, cool as anything, and had spent his life as a music composer and arranger having qualified from the Conservatoire! I had a really nice talk with him about Big Band stuff, which I used to play in. Heady stuff!!
Yesterday we did another trip, to the Cu Chi Tunnels, the tunnel system used by the Viet Cong during the war. Absolutely amazing. The tunnels stretched for hundreds of miles, but were so incredibly tiny it was awful. We managed to do a 20m stretch before having to get out. Many people couldn’t even fit in! In the afternoon we visited the Independent Palace, and the War Remnants Museum which fully depicted the horror of the war. It’s fair to say that I came away from there with an even lower opinion of American Politics than I already had…… How a country can claim to be the “police force” of the world, when only 40 years ago they covered an entire country with Agent Orange chemical weapons is beyond me. The effects of those chemicals are still being felt now, with an abnormally high rate of children born with severe deformities. I know war is war, but the USA just seems a tad hypocritical to me…..
Last night we had a great night out drinking with Li-Or and Liraz. Lovely girls, a lot of fun! They’d told their mum about us, and she was worried about us and our decision to sell up and travel!! It just seems like a way of life to us now, and we’ve no doubt whatsoever that it’s not going to be our last time! As usual we had a brilliant time out for less than a fiver! On the way back to our hotel we stopped off at Crazy Girl to say goodbye to Jonnie and Sanne. All nice people! And it made my day when the receptionist girl at the hotel insisted on carrying Charlotte’s bag for her saying, “But I am young!”, meaning Charlotte isn’t!!! Very funny!
So, our time in Vietnam is over, sadly. It’s been a superb time for us, and one of the highlights of our trip. The people there are incredibly friendly, and to me (maybe in ignorant bliss) it’s seemed one of the safest places we’ve visited. We wouldn’t hesitate to return.
Let’s see what Cambodia brings…….
Finally, huge congratulations to our beautiful friend Shelley, who yesterday ran the 35 mile Ripon Round event. Brilliant work Shell! Well done! Find us another long one to do together next year!!