Sunrise over Angkor Wat was rather hazy and very crowded. Quite chilly on the tuktuk drive-in wearing only a T-shirt but perfectly cool when we started our temple tour ahead of our fellow tourists. It must have been a huge effort to move each stone from 45km away by elephant and boat. We enjoyed a few hours exploring and taking pictures but by midday the temples had begun to merge into one. All have the same features and stories: built by a king a thousand years ago, several libraries, a mixture of Buddhist and Hindu icons destroyed by the opposite side or the Khmer Rouge. We cooled down with a dip in the pool and the most amazing coconut ice cream. Yesterday morning another 5.30 start to continue our journey in the direction of Vietnam. We had booked a boat to Pnom Phen (the capital of Cambodia) the day before. 30 of us plus baggage were crammed into a 20 seater minibus and tipped-out at the boat dock. The vessel we were taken to didn’t at all resemble the comfortable boat we had seen on the pictures. Imagine a fibreglass skateboard with a V8 truck engine dangling out from the back. Again more people were crammed on that should be possible for the 8 hour journey downstream. As a concession the driver stopped 5 mins in to pick up some plastic chairs to fill the aisle. We made ourselves “comfortable” on the roof along with the luggage.
We started our 200km journey by crossing Cambodia’s central lake. The engine noise was deafening. Two hours later and the sun was high in the sky. The shore was dimly visible through the haze and finally we made it to the river mouth. Another unscheduled stop. This time to change to a larger, faster, equally noisy steel boat with fitted seats and a covered outside section. At last!
We spend the next 4 hours sitting up front, with a breeze and a great view of Cambodian river life. Floating villages interspersed with some form of floating crop. Fishermen with long, narrow punts and a Diesel engine connected to a 10ft pole with a propeller on the end. A great way to see the countryside.