50 things we’ve learnt during our 25 days in Cambodia. 

1. The border crossing of Thailand and Cambodia is not as scary as it is made out to be on Internet forums. 2. The staff at immigration won’t let you use their toilet if you don’t pay the ‘administration’ fee. 

3. Always have a pen!!!

4. Everyone at Poipet that has a motor on a set of wheels will offer you a taxi service to where ever you want. They will even drive on the wrong side of the road to offer this, for several hundred metres. 

5. They drive on the right hand side of the road. (Opposite side to Thailand, even though they share such similarities in other areas.)

6. There are several casinos in no-mans land. Apparently, one does not need a visa to visit them. 

7. The ATMs at Poipet don’t accept foreign cards. Bring extra dollars for your onwards journeys that day. 

8. Sparrows are sold as pets. At least we hope they were for pets. So too are pigeons. Swifts are trained to return to their cages once set free. 

9. Credit card machines produce three receipts. Two need to be signed, even though it was written not to sign them. 

10. Cantonese for ‘shit’ is the same word for ‘colour’ in Khmer. 

11. There are about 40 species of frog in Cambodia. Supposedly, all of them are edible, but the spawn of one of them is poisonous. 

12. There is an edible leaf in the jungle that tastes exactly like a Granny Smith apple. 

13. The prices are nearly exclusively in dollars. To pay in Riels you may lose some money on the exchange. However, if you buy local you save a fortune as they typically only deal in their own currency. 

14. Teak trees have a hole gouged in to them and a fire lit. Sap will gather in the hole for 24hrs for collection, to be used for a variety of purposes including lighter fuel and sealing boats. 

15. The traditional greeting is the Sompiah, a slight bow with hands together in front of your chest, fingers pointed up. It is the equivalent of a handshake in western society. 

16. It would appear that dog shit is set on fire with several combustibles added, rather than move it away from their shop premises. 

17. You feel like a hostage because of rain. It’s remarkable and scary all at the same time. 

18. There is a powder that the Cambodians use, apparently, that helps to make ice quicker. It is visible in the bottom of a glass when the ice melts. We have never seen it, but have been told about it. Can’t find it online either. 

19. 1 in 300 Cambodians are victim to a landmine. 

20.  It costs $5 to lay a mine and $500 to remove it. The old way to find and dismantle a land mine was with a stick and a pliers. 

21. The Falklands Islands have several mine fields after the war. They are now popular places for penguins (too light to trigger the mines) and this has led to ecotourism. Efforts are ongoing to prevent the removal of these mines. 

22. When exchanging money, it is courteous to use both hands. If that is not possible, then your left hand should be touching your right elbow as the transfer is made.

23. Cambodian drivers manoeuvre first, look second. 

24. HiSo (High Society) is a term used to describe the upper class women of Thailand. I think other SE Asian countries are trying to adopt this status. 

25. Prahok is a crushed, salted and fermented fish paste (usually of mudfish) that is used in cuisine as a seasoning or a condiment. If someone at your table orders it, do yourself a favour and don’t try it. It’s disgusting. 

26. Kralan is a typical Cambodia savoury snack. It consists of sticky rice cooked in coconut milk, with black eyed peas or beans stuffed inside a bamboo cane. The cooking of it is a long and fuel consuming process. It is one of the few guaranteed safe foods to eat from the side of the road. 

27. We saw several locals counting money on blood stained chopping boards. Use your hand sanitizer whenever you touch the notes! 

28. Lilly pads are sometimes used as an extra layer for a chopping board. Genius!

29. Luggage doesn’t need to fit in the mini van/bus! Strap a few ropes around the back door (open or closed) and stack up your motorbike and boxes on the back. It gives you more room for passengers inside.

30. You can fire a rocket launcher for $350, or machine guns for $1 a bullet. 

31. There are very few pigeons in Cambodia. In fact we only saw them outside the royal palace where locals feed them and take selfies. 

32. Apparently (hearsay and only 1 article on Google that remotely reference it), if a pig has 5 toes it isn’t killed and is sent to live with the monks at the temple. 

33. We reckon the schools along the Mekong teach swimming for half the year and soccer for the other half. The pitch was flooded to just below the goalpost crossbars.

34. We overheard a guide at the royal palace, Phnom Penh say that the colours of temple roof reflect the seasons of the year. I cannot, after extensive research, confirm this architectural feature. But, the colours are beautiful. 

35. ATMs can dispense fake money (US Dollars). Hold up your money to the camera when you make a withdrawal and go through them to check. 

36. There are two types of medicine in a pharmacy. Tourists should request the western medicine and not the Chinese medicine/brands.

37. Between 1975 and 1979, the Khmer Rouge were responsible for the deaths of nearly 2 million people. 

38. The bamboo train (called a norry/nori) was designed to be dismantled and moved if another bamboo train was on the line. The train with less goods and easier to dismantle had to give right of way. The process is really cool to see. 

39. Katherine is loving Cambodian cuisine – there is shed loads of ginger in every dish. 

40. The smoothies in this country are by far the worst we’ve ever had. 

41. The female toilets at the bus station in Phnom Penh were past the men’s urinals. This info is crucial to the next statement. We saw that they use pineapple chunks in the urinals instead of little blue sanitizer blocks. 

42. There’s a clear problem with tuk tuk drivers at the Sorya bus station (PP), as they have 2x staff and a barrier when buses arrive. People beware!

43. They sensibly use sticky ice packs on their babies to help keep them cool. 

44. In the Khmer alphabet, there are 23 dependent vowels, 13 independent vowels and 33 consonants. It takes children 3 years to leant it as it’s so complicated. There is also no breaks in the written sentences. 

45. Comedian Charlie Chaplin visited Cambodia in 1936. To this day, comedians in the country wear a fake or drawn on moustache like Charlot had. 

46. Weddings are a three day event. Yikes!

47. The higher the house is on stilts (or built higher) means you have more money. There is a funny story about a German man and a high storey house in the Mondulkiri region if anyone is ever interested. 

48. It is estimated that approximately 37.5 kg of fish is consumed annually per person. The figure is as high as 67 kg/person for those who reside around Tonle Sap Great Lake and Mekong River. 

49. The majority of rubbish bins around the country are made from old tyres. 

50. We saw a poster for blueberry Fanta at the beginning of our adventure in Cambodia. At the end of the trip I checked the internet. It looks like Coca-Cola don’t make it anymore. Sob!

Advertisements

Travelling – day 372

We’re notorious for getting up early on a day of travelling. Nervous of sleeping in and missing a bus/train/ferry/flight we prefer to be up and chatting or surfing Facebook than stressing about packing and running late. But, after a year of travelling, we should give ourselves a bit more credit. Washed, dressed and packed within the hour, we hit the street at 7bells to look for breakfast. We say look loosely, cause we knew we were going to make a beeline directly across the road to the bakery. Some pastries, donuts and cakes for the day (not just brekkie) and a wander through the market to look for loo roll (just in case) we were back in the room with plenty of time to kick back, relax and wait for the bus. The mini van turned up just as we were leaving the hotel lobby. Perfect timing! We were at the ticket office only a few minutes later to transfer to another bus. Well, they called it a bus because they fit 5 foreign adults in to the vehicle, but it was a small jeep. Katherine luckily had the front seat – advantages of being polite to the ticket office staff – and 4 of us got ‘familiar’ in the beak seat. The 40mins, typical Cambodian time, took 1hr20 to arrive at Sisophon. Half way to Siem Reap in a fraction of the time as he drove like a lunatic, we were now only 57km from Poipet. But, we had to wait for the main bus to arrive first. Almost an hour later we jumped on the bus, nestled our ass in the air-conditioned seats and chugged along to the border. We got through passport control and immigration without a hitch, but we did sigh a lot at the people taking photos and videos in areas where it said not to, and people managing to get to the front of the queue after 45mins waiting, to then stand aside and fill in their immigration form that they were presented before entering the building. WTF!!??

A small bit of a wait in the car park for everyone to get back on the bus, we had now safely traversed the notorious Poipet border crossing twice without hassle. A weird moment when military got on the bus and demanded to see passports was about the only bit of drama before we stopped at a nice garage with a 7 Eleven, shops, restaurants and sparkly clean bathrooms. Oh to be back in Thailand. We got off at the railway station, a more convenient stop than Khao San Rd where we were destined. As such, we built up an appetite by walking to our hostel. Dumped the bags and enjoyed noodles, curry and salad at our usual restaurant. We tried to watch a bit of telly, but every channel was showing the same piece on the Thai King. An unusual thing to do on tv, we were unable to check what that meant with the poor wifi in the room so we turned off the lights and passed out. Thursday 13th October 2016