Archive for the ‘Cambodia’ Category

Cambodia and Laos Updates

Wednesday, June 13th, 2007

Every time we switch countries, we have to go through a major process to find stuff for Jessica to eat and drink. Drinks became a major issue in Cambodia because Jess refuses to drink water no matter HOW hot and thirsty she gets, and the “Twister” drink that became her favorite in Vietnam was no longer available. She was refusing to drink ANYTHING and it was making us crazy. When it’s over 40 degrees out and you’re walking around outdoors for hours you start to get a bit worried when your kid won’t drink anything! Everywhere we went, we’d buy some new can of something from some vendor or another for her to try – she’d have a few sips and then say she didn’t like it. ARRGGHH. Finally we hit on iced lemon tea and diet coke. Not exactly the best fluids for a three year old, but we’d exhausted most other options! With a few popsicles thrown in for good measure, we managed to keep her hydrated.

Our third day in Cambodia we were templed out. We took a tuk tuk to Lao Airways (Saturday morning) to pay for our flight out of Cambodia – tickets have to be issued at least one day in advance. They are closed. The sign says they are open, but nope gate is locked and they aren’t open Sundays and we’re leaving Monday afternoon!!!! The tuk tuk driver had a cell that he let me use to call them and the guy said come in Monday at 8am. Of course, I’ve heard all the nightmare stories about booking with this airline – cancelled flights, etc. (let’s not even talk about their unpublished safety record…that I hadn’t mentioned to Grant yet) So, I’m freaking out wondering if we’ll make it out of Cambodia on schedule.

We head to the Blue Pumpkin Café for lunch and, while we’re waiting for the food, I took off to try to call the airline. I called the office in Thailand and it was like something out of a Monty Python film. Bad, echoing, delayed, connection and two people speaking two different languages trying to sort out a ten digit alpha-numeric confirmation number that has repeating digits. We do that for about five minutes and she’s still getting it wrong. I hang up. Instead, I emailed the France office. (Never get a response.) Finally, I decided to just chill about it and we’ll stay in Cambodia for an extra week and skip Laos entirely if necessary!

We did some shopping and some swimming and ate at the Blue Pumpkin twice in one day. It’s lovely and cool and air-conditioned and they have good food AND ice cream! They also had free wireless, so I figured I’d bring my laptop the following day.  We spent the afternoon looking all over town for the ‘perfect’ sandstone carving – finally went back to the first one we found for $120 at the really expensive shop and Grant argued them down to $60! (Worth about $30 in the markets maximum, but hey we like it and it’s hard to feel bad about leaving extra money in Cambodia!)

Cambodia is a bit of a heartbreaking place to travel. Everywhere you look there are land mine victims and other cripples and beggars. (My wallet was a lot lighter on the way out of there!) Our hotel was located right beside the Children’s Hospital and we had to pass the long queue of sick kids every time we went into town. There was a big sign outside the hospital asking for blood donations to help combat a recent outbreak of Hemorrhagic Dengue Fever …listing MY blood type as one that was desperately needed. This made me feel totally guilty that I didn’t have the guts to donate blood in a country where I wasn’t 100 percent sure of the medical facilities. Not to mention the fact that I was concerned about Jessica coming down with Dengue and winding up in the hospital! (We’re well past the incubation period now Grandma she’s OK) I found out later that I wouldn’t have been able to donate blood because of the malaria meds we’re taking, but it didn’t stop me from torturing myself every time we saw that line of sick babies.

Sunday morning I headed back to the Blue Pumpkin for brekkie and wireless chat with mom and Grant and Jess met up with me a bit later on. That day was MORE shopping and swimming and our hottest day yet at 42 degrees in the shade – the pool hit 34 degrees which was like swimming in soup. Our hotel was lacquering the floor in the room next door and the smell was making everyone sick. It took some doing to get them to open the window due to security issues, even though we were on the second floor facing into the courtyard. We had a very nice Indian dinner in town (Note to self – when your tummy is feeling bad, do NOT go for Indian food no matter how yummy) and stayed out late down on bar street which is closed off to traffic and really nice atmosphere at night. (And…ahem…some MORE shopping…) We were feeling pretty melancholy about the prospect of leaving Cambodia in the morning, and I was half-hoping we wouldn’t sort out the plane tickets in time!

Grant was still feeling the pain of his recent encounter with the dishonest taxi driver in Bangkok. He’s getting terribly cheap with tuk tuks and is VERY gun-shy about getting ripped off by drivers now!!! Jessica, however, is bargaining like a champ!

Up early Monday and I’m still feeling really sick from the Indian food and lacquer smell. Grant did most of the packing the previous night because I wasn’t feeling well. They had offered to move us, but the open window before dinner had helped and we had thought they were finished all the coats – not so much. They did another coat right before we went to bed which really did my head in.

I dashed out early to get the plane tickets and mail some stuff with DHL. I managed to get the tickets sorted out which took ages as the guy had to write them all out by hand, and there were three flight segments to deal with. What cracks me up is they’ll be all ready for e-ticketing in the next few months, meaning they’ll go straight from hand written to e-tickets! Bizarre. Hope the ticket writing guy still has his job. Afterwards, my tuk tuk driver couldn’t find DHL, and after driving round aimlessly for half an hour, I decided not to ship the stuff and just carry it onboard our flight.

I got back to the hotel still feeling quite ill, and it was time to take our Malaria meds. Joy. Jessica flatly refused to take hers and no amount of coercion or cajoling would work. Threatening didn’t work either and eventually I had to hold her down and force it down her throat. She spit some of it back up and gagged like crazy and both of us were in tears by the end of it.  Grant and I were devastated because she had previously taken them so well and we had weeks and weeks left on these meds…not looking forward to that at all. I was so upset after the rodeo with Jessica that I gagged and threw up in the sink taking mine. God, I hate this medication! I ended up taking another half a pill myself that evening to make sure I had the right dose, but I don’t think Jess got the right dose at all – another thing for Mommy to worry about.  There was no way I was going to risk an overdose by giving her any more, though. Luckily there weren’t too many mosquitoes around because of the heat.

(Since then Jessica has been really good taking hers and we have wised up and started taking them after dinner to minimize “grumpy time” and things are definitely looking up for Mondays! Funny, though, we’ve taught our daughter to hate Monday long before work or school came into play: “Oh man, is it MONDAY today Mommy?”)

We said a fond goodbye to our driver Johnny at the airport – what a nice guy! He even had a little speech prepared that he’d obviously been working on to get his English just right to say how much he’d enjoyed our company and wished us well in our travels, etc. Very heartfelt and sincere, and it increased our sadness at leaving Cambodia before we’d really had much more than a taste of it. We were early for our flights so waited in the lobby for ages before checking in. I was pretty nervous about flying with Lao Airways but keeping it to myself because at that point I still hadn’t confessed anything about their safety record to Grant. I mean, just because it’s not PUBLISHED doesn’t necessarily mean it’s BAD right??

The plane was tiny and we had to walk out to the plane and climb the steps, which was pretty cool. But we were also lugging tons of stuff because I hadn’t been able to ship any of our shopping home. Jessica hadn’t eaten much (no big surprise there) and was a bit grouchy. The plane was so small I gave her travel meds and she fell asleep through two take-offs and landings. Grant thought we were crashing when the plane landed the first time – he didn’t realize (or, more accurately, didn’t pay attention to me when I told him) we were scheduled to land in Paske. Scared the crap out of him! We got to Luang Prabang and discovered the security tags cut off Grant’s bag where we couldn’t lock it – annoyed, but nothing seemed missing. The driver wasn’t there to pick us up, so fearing the worst we headed off to our guest house.

During the dry season, farmers in Laos burn down large sections of the forest to make room for more farming. This results in permanent haze of smoke hanging over the city that burns the eyes and irritates the lungs – not to mention ruins any hope of taking good photos of the spectacular landscape. Obviously, the first thing we noticed about Luang Prabang was the air quality and the surreal smog hanging over everything creating sort of an eerie twilight effect.

The guest house was on a lovely quiet street and they did have our reservation. Turns out that the driver was just heading out to pick us up but our plane had been early. Oops. Oh well, the taxi was only a few dollars. The lady at the front desk spoke wonderful English (amidst several other languages) and she instantly hauled out her new puppy for Jessica to play with. The puppy’s name was “short knee” because he’s got such little legs, and Jessica fell in love with him instantly. The room was big with four beds and a tiny TV and wooden floors that echoed. There were signs everywhere saying “be careful with your feet.” Jessica made an unholy amount of noise running round on the wooden floor – it’s the only time I’ve ever ASKED her to tiptoe! Of course, this is the ONLY time in her life where she doesn’t!!

Before I go on, a word about the toilet in our room; the bane of Grant’s existence for six days. (For those of you familiar with Grant’s toilet “issues” bear this in mind…) first of all, it leaked out the back every time we flushed it. But that was OK because we’re pretty sure it was clean water leaking out and the toilet was right in the shower anyways! Generally the seat was always wet from somebody’s recent shower and you certainly didn’t want to use up all the toilet paper just to dry the seat. There wasn’t enough water pressure (when the water was even working) to flush down even the most minute portion of toilet paper so we’d have to use the high pressure hose next to the toilet to break up the paper and help the toilet flush. (Note: DO NOT use this hose as substitute for toilet paper) Eventually we developed a little ritual for anything remotely “serious:”

1)      Poo

2)      Flush

3)      Wipe

4)      Spray

5)      Flush

6)      Pray

7)      Wait for toilet to fill up again

8)      Spray

9)      Flush and spray

10)  Repeat steps 4-9 as necessary

Of course, every time you flush the toilet everyone in the hotel loses ALL shower pressure!!

We fell completely in love with Laos. The people are wonderful and the atmosphere is laid back and life just moves at a wonderfully slow pace. Laos is so laid back and mellow that we didn’t really care about all the things that went wrong. In Canada we would have been livid at some of the problems with the hotel: the toilet issue, the shower was temperamental at the best of times, the pillows were rocky and the bed uncomfortable and had the odd flea. Breakfast was barely adequate. They made the beds and hosed down the bathroom (we figure with the toilet hose thingy) and that passed for “clean.”

On the plus side there were no rats and no cockroaches and the people were unbelievably nice. The man running the guest house spent ages showing Jessica how to fish with a bamboo pole and there was a big lawn for her to run around on and, of course, the puppy to play with! The place felt homey and secure even though the door barely locked. My laptop wasn’t locked up and, amazingly enough, I wasn’t worried at all when we went out. They destroyed some of Jess’s knickers and pjs in the laundry which was hilarious because Grant INSISTED we pay the extra money to have the guest house do our laundry because he didn’t trust the folks next door! The lady at the guest house wouldn’t feed us chicken because of the bird flu scare, but there were omelets on the breakfast menu and chickens running through the yard – so go figure! I spent half my time trying to make sure Jessica didn’t pick up any feathers off the ground. Thankfully, she hasn’t felt the need to pet the chickens anywhere yet.

Food in Luang Prabang wasn’t very good overall, but we eventually found one or two restaurants that we kept going back to. Jessica made friends with the little boy at one of them and there was a fish pond where they let her feed the fish so we ended up going there quite a bit. Grant even took a cooking course, which, unfortunately, put him off eating full stop after he saw the state of things in the kitchen! Jessica still wasn’t eating much at all but she started drinking milk again which was a relief for Mommy. We managed to find some more of the sweetened long life milk that she had been drinking in Vietnam.

It was cool compared to Cambodia – I never thought I’d ever hear myself say: “Hey, it’s only 34 degrees out let’s walk into town!” Not really much to see because of the forest fires so we decided not to do an elephant ride or trip to the waterfalls or caves. Turns out it was a good decision because everyone we spoke with said the waterfalls were pretty dry in that season and the views were mostly obscured by smoke on the elephant ride. So, with nothing but time on our hands, we spent most of it shopping and getting fabulously cheap massages! Jessica is becoming quite the foot massage addict and the ladies at “our” spa adored her. She wanted a body massage but we wouldn’t let her get one. Internet was also really cheap so I spent a lot of time online catching up with friends.

It rained a bit one of the mornings which cleared away some of the smoke so we headed up the hill to the golden pagoda to take some pictures. It was something like 400 stairs and Grant carried Jessica up all of them again, but it was worth it as the view was spectacular. We watched some farmers unload some massive pigs into the river and made them swim to shore which was hilarious, and caught a photo exhibition. We also discovered that their New Year’s was just round the corner because, similar to Fiji, the kids sprayed everyone with water guns and some even tossed buckets full. I caught a bucket full of water on my walk back to the guest house one evening; poetic justice because I’d been laughing at some other tourists who’d gotten pretty soaked.

We loved the night market and shopped our hearts out buying silk products and paper lanterns. The entire main street in town shut down every night at about 5pm until 10pm and whole families would bring in their wares for sale. Each family would spread out a blanket and hook up a light above it and sometimes a frame to hang lanterns or silk from. Babies tumbled everywhere and fell asleep in piles of cotton or silk. Yummy smells wafted through the air from the food vendors selling hot pancakes, or submarine sandwiches, fresh baked muffins, etc. The textiles were amazing; in the course of six days, I developed a serious woven silk addiction. It was such a great market, nobody hassled us to buy and everyone was amiable during bargaining.

Once the market was over, however, the town completely shut DOWN. Grant went out one evening at about 10pm to get some cold drinks for us and he literally could not see his hand in front of his face because there was no light whatsoever on the street. Our guest house was on a quiet street, true, but you’d think there’d be some light from either street lights or from the windows of neighboring houses. Nope. Also, the smoke obscured any moonlight that might have helped light the way. Our guest house was set back from the street and so the only available light on the street was the weak bulb illuminating the tiny storefront a few doors away so he had to kind of stumble his way there and try to remember to bring a flashlight next time!

We felt totally comfortable letting Jessica run around (within our sight, of course.) and play. There was a surprising amount of kids traveling in Laos; it’s a really good place to take kids – safe, cheap, and fun and absolutely no real hassles. It would have been nice if we could have taken the elephant rides, but we passed on them because we had one planned for the following week anyways. The only – and primary – concern was the lack of adequate medical care which is why we only stayed for a few days. I could have stayed there a lot longer, it’s just so relaxing. (ooohhhh….and did I mention the SILK?)

Temples of Angkor

Saturday, May 26th, 2007

We had decided to catch a plane to Siem Reap instead of taking a long boat or bus ride. It turned out to be a VERY good decision, if a bit more expensive. The flight was really short – just over ½ hour, service was superb, and they fed us a nice snack. We grabbed a cab from the airport, got chatting with our driver Johnny and booked him for the next two days to see the temples. Johnny also found us a fantastic guide for the next morning, impressive considering it was already 7pm. We paid $25 for each of them and I’m quite sure it was a bargain compared to what the hotel would have charged. Worth every penny as well!


7am came back-breakingly early, but the morning was comparatively cool (30 degrees instead of 40) There are simply no words adequate to describe the temples of Angkor. Get a plane ticket and go see them for yourself. Get a guide for at least the major sights on your first day so you know what you’re looking at. Our guide certainly added to our appreciation of this amazing place. I was taking a million photos, and Grant was super-Daddy and carried Jessica through the temples and up about a million stairs! My hero!! We spent three hours touring temples before it got too hot to move anymore. Thankful for our air-conditioned car and rock-star temple-to-temple service, we made our way back to the hotel to have a swim and some food.


Grant took Jessica to the pool while I caught up on some work (yes, WORK – I am the travel agent here!!) They only lasted a short while before Jessica pooped in the pool (thankfully wearing a swim diaper, which we don’t often use anymore) and yelled: “Daddy I POO-ED” across the pool at Grant. He beat a hasty retreat back to the room and was too embarrassed to go back to the pool that afternoon!!


Our driver and guide showed up again at 2pm and we toured some more amazing temples. Jessica had a pony ride around the lake in front of Angkor Wat, which gave Daddy’s back a break for a bit. Angkor Wat is certainly the premier attraction and our guide was wonderfully adept at avoiding tour groups so I got some good photo ops. Photos just don’t do it justice though.


Jessica was much more awake in the afternoon and at one point was skipping though Angkor Wat singing: “Cambodia is GREAT!!” I think she’s enjoying herself on this trip. True, she spent more time digging in the loose dirt between ancient temple flagstones and exterminating ants than looking at the artwork on the walls, but – hey – as long as she’s enjoying herself! There WAS one notable moment of ‘art appreciation’, though, when I turned around and caught her investigating the nipples of one of the stone apsara dancers carved into the side of the temple. I have no idea why she was doing this, but I got a picture of it to embarrass her with later!


We took an elephant ride up the hill for sunset. Our very first elephant ride and we all loved it, although I will say that it is NOT a comfortable mode of transportation. Three of us were crammed onto a small platform balanced atop the elephant’s shoulders. It swayed and lurched with each step the ellie took and we were also going uphill which tipped us backwards too. An exciting ride, though, if not a comfy one!!  We hung around at the top of the hill and checked out the view. The sunset didn’t look all that amazing so we decided to get back to the hotel because we had dinner and a show booked and we were all in desperate need of a shower.  Of course, the instant we get to the bottom of the hill, the sunset becomes absolutely spectacular and we end up having Johnny pull over to the side of the road so we could take some pics.


We had enjoyed our guide so much that we’d decided to book him for another day. But, he had school and he’d already cut classes to guide us for the first day, so we ended up not bothering with a guide on our second day there. (at some point, I will dig out his card and give the guide’s name and contact info because he was AWESOME) So, we contented ourselves with booking Johnny and his mobile air-conditioning for the following day.


We made a quick dash back to our hotel for a MUCH needed shower before catching the evening Apsara dance performance at the hotel. We really should have gone into town –  it would have been much cheaper than the $90 we paid for the three of us. But, the stage was set outside in the hotel gardens, our table was right next to the stage, the dancing was wonderful, and the meal was nothing short of spectacular.  All in all a fantastic and long day and we hit our pillows hard.


Morning came early again and we met Johnny downstairs at 7am. Turns out that Johnny was almost as good a guide as the other guy, and although he couldn’t be onsite with us, he gave us enough of a rundown before we entered each place that we had a reasonable idea of what we were looking at.


The previous day we’d hit all the ‘major’ sites and this day was devoted to picking and choosing amongst the remaining zillion ‘lesser’ temples. Although these weren’t on scale with the grandeur of Angkor Wat, we had just as much fun exploring some of these sites. They were comparatively deserted, and we’d often go ten minutes or so without seeing another person. We felt like Indiana Jones clambering through these deserted, overgrown ruins. It was wonderful! TONS of photo ops, and we were exhausted again by the end of the day.


My GOD is it hot in Cambodia at this time of year! The locals don’t go anywhere or do anything from about 10am to 2pm and we swiftly learned to follow suit. We met a few hardy explorers who decided to tour all the temples during this time because there was nobody around. Good in theory, but bad light for photos and I wasn’t about to put Jessica or ourselves through that kind of hell. We retired to the pool during that time of day. It was bad enough as it was. We were relatively comfortable until 8am. Then, as the sun climbed in the sky, so did the temperature….to around 42 degrees or so. The POOL was 34 degrees – like swimming in soup! By 8:10am we were all completely drenched in sweat, Jessica was generally passed out in Grant’s arms and he was carrying her up and down a million stairs. The only way to keep sane was to hire an air conditioned car (yay for Johnny!) to drive between temples and to do it in short bursts. We decided that, even though the temples were absolutely spectacular and there was definitely more to see, two days was enough. Grant could barely walk after carrying Jessica so much and we were templed out.

Out of time again…….

One night in Bangkok and one in Phnom Penh…

Wednesday, May 9th, 2007

Well. I’ve fallen so far behind on this blog; I almost don’t know where to start anymore! For the record, we’re just having too much fun to take the time to write!

The night before we left Vietnam, Jessica realizes that we’re about to leave for another country….where they speak YET ANOTHER language. She’s quite distraught and insists that I immediately look up how to say hello so she can talk to people when we get there. Over the course of the evening, she made me tell her several times so that she’d remember. I didn’t have the heart to tell her we’ll only be in Thailand less than 24 hours as we were passing through Bangkok on our way to Cambodia! This is to become a theme on our trip – every time we hit an airport she’s asking how do you say hello HERE then? I’m quite proud that she’s so interested in learning a bit of the language and customs of each country!

We arrive in Bangkok in the late afternoon and wait ages for our baggage. We’re both super grumpy from taking Larium and Jess is extremely hyper. This has proven to be our typical reaction to the medication. Both Grant and I get really impatient and snappy, and Jessica becomes a hyper-spastic little monster…for about 24 hours. This is followed by a poor night’s sleep because of the weird and wonderful dreams that come with the Larium.

Just for fun, it turns out that most of our traveling is done on a Monday. THIS Monday was especially bad as we were due to fly into Bangkok for only a few hours before catching a really early morning flight out for Phnom Penh. NOT the best day to be short on patience and traveling with a small child. I’m also annoyed because we have this stupid layover only because I had to have flights booked out of Vietnam before we got our visas and I couldn’t book any of the easy, direct flights from outside the country…but I digress. Suffice it to say NOBODY is in a really great mood.

We grabbed a taxi into town that took almost an hour to get there and cost 450 baht. Thankfully we were booked into a really nice hotel with a lovely dinner buffet which is expensive, but worth every penny. Two big comfy beds and a big, quiet room – the perfect place to catch a few winks before we have to fly out. Also, free wireless!! Hooray!! We have to be out of the hotel by about 4am in order to make it to the airport in plenty of time to check in. Ugly. Grant decides not to sleep at all and it takes forever to get Jessica to sleep. So, in the end, none of us gets much sleep and Grant stays up all night surfing the web and wandering around the hotel.

Our cab arrives on schedule and quotes us a 600 baht price to get to the airport. Grant says no way I’ll pay you 450 like I paid to get here.  He’s still a little gun shy with cabs because taxi scams are a way of life in Hanoi, where we’ve just come from! There’s NO traffic, and the guy is going 140 km/hr down the freeway. Yikes! Jess falls asleep in the cab but otherwise she’s a pretty cheerful bean for being up at that hour. She’s a pretty mellow traveler most of the time (except for Mondays…) which is fantastic.

In the cab, Grant insists that he’s going to “deal with” the cab driver. He is expecting (as might happen in Vietnam) that the driver will try to change the agreed upon price once we get there. Lately, I’d been handling the arguing with the drivers and he wasn’t pleased with how often (in his opinion) I got ripped off. So, he’s primed for argument before we even get out of the car.

We get to the airport and Grant is rummaging around in his wallet for cash. He asks me if I have any money and I tell him I don’t have anything smaller than a 1000 bill. (Roughly $30 US) He takes the bill from me, adds in some from his wallet and I figure maybe the guy doesn’t have the right change so Grant is trying to help him out. Grant pays 4000 for the taxi and thinks he’s gotten a sweet deal because the guy originally wanted 6000. The driver smiles and is out of there like a shot and I’m thinking – hey, that was easy no big argument maybe Grant should handle all the taxis. Then I ask him: “HOW MUCH did you just pay that man?”

The look of shocked comprehension on his face as Grant realizes he’s actually paid TEN TIMES the going rate for a taxi is hilarious. I wish I’d had a camera!! It really probably didn’t help that I completely peed my pants laughing at him…but after enduring all his recent rants about how I “let myself get walked on by taxi drivers” and how “he’s going to handle it from now on….” OMG funny!!

The guy at the taxi stand is seriously angry when we complain to him, but we didn’t get the driver’s number. He calls the Sheraton and hands us the phone – Grant remembers the driver’s first name, and we’re pretty sure they have cameras everywhere in the hotel. Within an hour they have emailed me saying they’ve gotten our money back for us, and we can pick it up on our way back through Bangkok. (Which we subsequently did with no hassle whatsoever) THIS is a most pleasant change from Vietnam where nobody would have been at all indignant on our behalf, much less done something to get our money back!! Grant was starting to see the funny side of this – especially now that we knew our money would be returned to us. I, of course, will never let him live it down!

The new international airport in Bangkok is really nice. Check in was smooth and the flight uneventful and fairly short, but we’re exhausted by the time we hit Phnom Penh. Jessica has by now realized that we’re in a THIRD country and is still pestering me for words. She also remembers the candies they had at customs in Singapore and now asks all customs officers for candy, much to Mommy’s dismay when we happen to get a particularly crusty customs officer!

They have a sign in the airport in Cambodia that I loved. “We apologize for all delays that may be caused by the new computer system!” Classic! I need one of those! Visa processing is REALLY fast and we were totally impressed by the service. I had honestly expected a wait of up to several hours and was NOT looking forward to hanging around in the airport that long. But, we were whizzed right through – I think we got visas and cleared customs (two separate processes) FASTER than it generally takes us to re-enter Canada.

We check into the California 2 guest house in Phnom Penh. The place is clean enough, but the street sounds are LOUD and there’s only one double bed for the three of us and it’s lumpy and springy…not to mention the flea bites we end up with. BUT they have our reservation and we can check in really early. We’re only there overnight so we get our tons of laundry done first thing – it arrives back early the same afternoon all perfectly clean and dry and folded, for a stupidly cheap price. NICE! The ladies at the guest house are so fantastic that Jess wants to stay with them when it comes time to leave the following day: “I want a new mommy and daddy you guys are getting old!” The food is really good and cheap too. We wish we were staying longer than one night even though the bed is truly awful. They have air-con and hot water and satellite TV for $18 a night, including brekkie!

The morning of our arrival we didn’t do much just napped and watched TV. I made everyone get up at 3pm so we could see something of the town. I went out and bought raid for the room because of mosquitoes. The smell when we got back was pretty awful, but nobody got bit! (Aside from the fleas, of course) We saw the local museum and then had a yummy dinner. Grant bought a guidebook on the street for $2 that became his bible for the next week. He’s become a lonely planet convert, and keeps exclaiming over how USEFUL guidebooks are! Looks like my ability to dazzle him with my vast quantities of knowledge are coming to an end…

The next morning, Grant went to the Tuol Sleng Museum on his own while I let Jessica sleep in and got us mostly packed up. I didn’t want Jessica to see all the photos of torture victims of the Khmer Rouge, so we decided to let Daddy go on his own. When he got back we ate our yummy free breakfast, checked out, locked up our bags and hit the Russian market. Grant promptly lost his mind upon seeing all the $1 cds and I bought two silk bedspreads for Jessica and some pretty pillow covers in raw silk. It was getting hot and sticky and we still had the silver pagoda to see before our flight so we got out of there. Too bad, because there were many deals to be had and it was the best market we’d seen so far. Had lunch at the hotel – really yummy and cheap again. The ladies played with Jess again, much to her delight! Then we had a quick dash around the Royal Palace to see the silver pagoda, etc. They had the most AMAZING Buddha covered in diamonds and the floor was tiled completely in silver.

We were really sad to leave Phnom Penh so soon and in hindsight we should have stayed another day or so. Originally the plan had been to be there for two nights, but the flights didn’t work out properly. Oh well…on to the main attraction in Siem Reap!