18.03.2015 - 01.04.2015
We enjoyed two great days with Abu and his daughter Farheen in Kuala Lumpur. We were treated to some great hospitality and really enjoyed our stayed at their apartment. The boys loved the pool which we enjoyed on both days we were there – Cameron still talks about going back to take one more swim!
From here we flew to Phnom Pehn, Cambodia. We’d been considering travelling longer in Malaysia, then heading over to Thailand, but decided against it due to the very hot uncomfortable weather that’s on the way. Looking ahead, weather is going to play a big part in where we go, as we’d like to go to Japan but want to get there in summer and not winter! Plus Ash’s Uncle, Gordon, is going to be in Cambodia for a few weeks now, so it’s a great chance to catch up with him. We landed in Phnom Penh on the 20 March 2015 and instantly warmed to the place. The people are very friendly and take a keen interest in the boys. We’d forgotten what it was like to be harassed about needing a tuk-tuk as soon as we step out the door, there was none of that in Singapore or Malaysia! We visited Wat Ounalom (the headquarters of Cambodian Buddhism), the Royal Palace and also Wat Phnom (a buddist temple on top of the only hill in Phnom Penh). The Royal Palace was fascinating, there is a Pagoda inside which has over 7 tonnes of silver in the tiles on the floor and a Buddha carved out of a solid piece of Emerald.
We stayed until the 23rd and then travelled south to Sihanoukville, which is a beach side town south of PP. We decided to take the trip in a taxi, rather than on one of the many bus companies, as the bus takes longer and the taxi is only a little bit more expensive. The drive down wasn’t too bad, comparatively, on the hair-raising meter. Everyone is quite happy to pass each other (the lines on the road are just there for decoration!) and the poor motorcycles get pushed off the road – hang on tight everyone!
We’re quite surprised (and maybe a bit disappointed) about how touristy it is here in Sihanoukville. There are a lot of Expats who live over here renting apartments for US$300-500 per month and generally living quite cheaply. There a few islands which get frequent backpacker visits and there are tourist boats that travel to and around the island. It is a big party place with lots of bars (especially down along the beaches) and there are no shortage of restaurants offering a good selection of western and Asian food. Having said that, there’s a great deal of poverty here. There’s such a huge contrast in living standards, obviously between the expats and the locals, but even between the locals themselves. The country still hasn’t recovered from the impacts of the Khmer Rouge, they totally decimated the place during the four years that they had control. We’ve learnt a little bit about it, but decided against taking the boys to the Genocide Museum and the Killing Fields for obvious reasons! By all accounts, the country has changed a lot, for the better or worse is up to the individual, over the past five years. Life is still very much a struggle for a lot of the people here.
We managed to find a really great hotel (Reef Resort) run by a British Expat family. After initially booking for 3 days we extended our stay to 3 weeks (yeah, it’s that good). There is a great pool (which is totally awesome because it’s getting very hot and sticky now) and a pool table (found in every bar around here as well). We’re fully expecting Lachlan to become a pool shark by the end of the stay!
We're continuing on with the homeschooling with the boys, considering the constant change in location they're actually doing really well with adjusting! We've found a bit of a routine here in Sihanoukville, since we're here for much longer. Breakfast, school in the morning, swim, lunch, swim. Awesome!
So given we can have a good mix of both we decided to stay a bit longer and then move on to Vietnam. We’ll miss the Northern part of Cambodia, where Siem Reap and Angkor Wat is, but we fully intend to come back and do this part of Cambodia when the weather gets better!
We’ve been travelling for 7 weeks now, but it actually seems longer than that. We’ve done so much already! During our travels, we’ve come to appreciate the smaller things in life, like: toilet paper, a shower separate to the toilet, mozzie spray, a pool, air conditioning and rooms that don’t smell. It’s amazing how your perspective on what’s important can change!