Saturday, 7 July 2007

Keeping it Riel

Can't remember the name of this waterfall but it was Northeast Cambodia. And there was lots of water. This photo is from behind it by the way.

Different waterfall this time, a couple of children fishing in it.

We went to see the Irrawaddy dolphins (endangered species) but the photos I got look like amorphous, fat, grey blobs so here's a fat beardy blob instead.

Nick prefers to look at the world through pink laced curtains

Up close and personal with a water buffalo

Is there a better name for a whisky?

These blogs have been lacking wanky, artsy sunset shots recently so here you go

You may think the population of a small Cambodian village surrounds this car but no, that's who was riding in it. They got stuck. A few times.

Don Det was not what you might call a party island so god knows why menu item no. 14 is quite as chemically enhanced as it is. You could also make any item on the menu "happy" and you just had to specify how "happy" you wanted it...

Sorry to disappoint you but nothing much has happened today. We've had a 10+ hour coach journey from Kratie to Siem Reap and I managed to nap throughout much of it. So, there you go, nothing to see here, go on, go and do whatever it is you were meant to be doing before you thought ""hmmm lets see what Mark et al have been up to..."

Ha! As if I wouldn't have anything to tell you about. Imagine! The mere thought that in over a week since the last blog nothing would have happened is just silly. For a start we're in Cambodia now, we crossed the Laos-Cambodia border about 4 or 5 days ago. The passport office was essentially a wooden shed in the woods, down a dodgy back road but we got through with a minimum of "administration fees"(read: bribes), only a dollar or two each side of the border.

The last place we visited in Laos was in the far South, an area called the Four Thousand Islands. Of the four thousand, we stayed on one called Don Det. Not a great deal happens on the islands, which is undoubtedly the main attraction of them for many people. Including ourselves. It's quite easy to do nothing when your room has a balcony with several hammocks and overlooks a large expanse of the Mekong River. Most expanses of the Mekong river tend to be large actually. And quite swirly. Oh and while we were there, Tom "accidentally"milked a stray dog. Psh, "accidentally".

From the border crossing we headed North East to an area called Ratankiri where you go see/swim in a few big waterfalls and swim in a volcanic crater lake. Not many backpackers make the journey this way during the wet season (i.e. now) because it is a bit of a trek at the best of times. This proved to be the case. Not so much on the way there but certainly on the way back as we had to get out a couple of times to help out other vehicles that had gotten stuck in the mud roads that service this area of Cambodia and were therefore blocking the path of our bus. By this time I felt experienced in the field of getting vehicles unstuck as we had helped a large Cambodian family get out of the mud the previous day. I mention this because I had to leap into the back of a pick up truck at fairly high speed.

Such death-defying recklessness came about as me and Nick had chosen to jump up and down on the back fender of a pick-up truck to give it better grip on the mud. (This seemed the intelligent choice as opposed to pushing and getting liberally spattered with mud). SO, the truck gets the grip it needs and starts to speed up. The both of us think we'll just hang on until the driver stops. But he's decided he wants to be well clear of the mud and proceeds to bounce the truck over the mud track quite fast. Anyway, the upshot of this rambling is that I had to dive, kind of head first, with Nick pulling one arm, into the back of the truck as I would otherwise have been thrown off the back. Those watching from behind just saw my legs as they dangled gracefully about off the back of the truck until the driver decided it might be time to stop. Arnie himself would have been proud of such an action scene. I'm not sure what that gives me on the "I could have died" stories count but if you don't come back with at least a couple, other backpackers will shun you and offer to buy you a white wine spritzer. Oh the shame.

Finally for this week, I was talking to a couple of Dutch girls who were on our boat trip to look at the Irrawaddy dolphins yesterday. One of them asked if Tom, Nick and myself had become hippies while we were travelling, or always looked like this! Whilst making a kind of hand motion gesture that described our long hair and general beardiness. I'm sure it was a compliment although I couldn't tell as one of them, as I had earlier pointed out, had the kind of face that wouldn't seem out of place in the Gestapo.

And quote of the week comes from Tom: "I don't fancy Danny Grewcock, I just love him" (For those not into their rugby, Danny Grewcock is a player who would get more games if he weren't generally suspended for maiming other players. Tom should never be allowed near him for the safety of all involved.)

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