We weren't really unhappy to leave Sihanoukville the next morning. Bus back to Pnomh Penh, Cambodia's capital, with only 1.5 million inhabitants - and still it feels incredibly crowded, so many cars, tuk-tuks, mopeds and bikes on the streets...
Isabel felt a little ill, so we didn't do too much. A city tour and and a closer inspection of the local market was everything we fitted into our stay, before we left for Siem Reap - the tourist capital.
Siem Reap is known for its huge temples - the largest ones in the world! Built in the 13th century by the Khmer (Cambodians), they were discovered in the late 19th century by some French dudes, who started to free those spectacular, from the jungle overgrown monuments in the beginning of the last century. Nowadays, the jungle is gone, there are streets and pathways and signs and shops and restaurants... and loads of tourists. Even though you pay 20US$ for a one-day-entry, nobody visiting this region wants to miss out on these impressive structures.
Currently, the temples are rebuilt and renovated. Each temple is supported by another country - so India, China, Germany, France and others spend a few dollars at a time to employ some Khmer guys, who sit around on the stone walls, trying unsuccessfully to look busy. But especially the russian-sponsored temple shows some signs of work - the only place, where we actually saw those blokes working.
We enjoyed some good sightseeing and some expensive shopping, and went back tired after a long day on the tuk-tuk. Maybe too long: Isabel had infected me 2 days earlier, and so I suffered from fever, headache and a sore throat, while Isabel was on her way to recover, but still went to the toilet alarmingly often. We're both getting better day after day, but are still wearing our scarfs (shawls) and lying in bed very long hours.
Siem Reap was crowded with tourists, we had to visit at least 10 guest houses, before we found an empty room, which suited our budget. Because of our bad health, we didn't do more than explore the market and that temple-tour - until New Year's Eve.
For New Year's Eve, we were pretty happy, that there were so many Christians around, for the Muslim & the Chinese New Year don't match with our celebrations day. But because of all the tourists, we could enjoy a big street party, with western-style party music and loads of jumping & screaming chics & chicos around us. Last thing we did last year was having Indian dinner and a Cornetto ice-cream. :-)
So - now it is over my first year in which I haven't seen any of my family at all. Pretty sad, on the one hand, but if you take into account, what I have seen... well... that's not too bad, I reckon - sorry, Dad, Mum, Kniven & Dulli. *g*
Isabel and I decided to spend New Year's Day traveling - on our way back to Thailand, and then off to Northern Thailand.
It took us 14 hours to get from Siem Reap to Bangkok, first in a crowded minibus and then in a comfy air-con bus. One hour in Bangkok was enough to have some dinner and organize a train-ticket to Chiang Mai, which is the second-largest city in Thailand. All good? Well... the sleeper-wagon was fully booked, for that night and the following - so were 1st and 2nd class. We booked in 3rd class - and a pretty painful 15-hour-journey, until we reached our destiny. Our backs ached almost as much as our bums, and we hadn't really slept... But that's all right. I read "Miracle in the Andes", the true story about a rugby-team, which survives 72 days in the Andes, after a plane crash. 11 000 feet high, they have to eat the flesh from their dead mates to survive, and the hero finally walks over 100 miles, passing one of the highest peaks in the Andes (over 17 000 feet), just in his rugby-boots, drinking melted snow, until he reaches some small farm. Incredible. I decided not to complain about that train...
So now we're in Chiang Mai, not exactly sure what we want to do. The night bazaar is beautiful, and we spent a lot of Baht in shopping. we probably won't go trekking, cause Isabel's Mum told us, those trips were far too touristic, and are much nicer over in Laos. Maybe I book in for a bungee jump - who knows?
Life is good, a little cold up here (700km north of Bangkok), but we're right.
One last thing to say, especially to everyone I haven't reached yet via Email: Happy New Year! And, please, don't forget those good-intent-things. At least not for the first week, aye?
P.S.: Sorry, no pictures at all this time - the computer does not accept USB. Damn it!