Trip Start Oct 15, 2007
58Trip End May 01, 2008
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We got our packs and set out to find a place to stay. Our guide book said that most of the places were along the Mekong and that the bus station was 1.5 km away. A long walk with heavy packs, but Frits said we could do it. It actually wasn't that long of a walk and we saw some interesting things along the way.
We found a place to stay that was reasonably priced and went out to find lunch. At the Mekong Crossing, we had our first amok (Cambodian curry). I have never tasted anything so good. I asked what it was and the owner showed me the freshly pounded paste of different herbs and spices that goes into making it. It was terrific.
After cooling off, we decided to make the most of our time and rent a motorbike from our hotel. There is a temple just outside of town and a Khmer ruin 10 km south and wanted to check them out.
The temple turned out to be a bit of Alice in Wonderland.
From the temple, we went out to the Khmer ruin. When we arrived there, Frits parked the bike under a tree and the next thing I knew he's flinging his shoe and shaking his legs. It turned out he stepped on a red and nest. They are nasty big ants and they bite. It was hard to get them out of his shoes and off his legs. I had one on my finger and couldn't get it off. It bit too.
With that sorted, we walked towards the ruins. There was a police officer there. He made Frits fill out a tourist form and told him it would cost $2 per person to get in. We told him that we didn't want to go in that badly as we were going to Angkor and went to get back on the bike. Then he said that it was $1 to get in. We still said no. Eventually, he got on his bike and as he drove away, he told us we could go in for free.
As we went in, we were greeted with little kids begging for money or candy. They followed us through the whole temple and were whiny and naggy the whole time. Taiwanese kids, and adults for that matter, could give them a lesson on whining though so it didn't really phase us.
This Khmer temple was rebuilt and thee is a new temple amongst the ruined old temple. We saw some monks and were candidly taking photos of them. We knew we were caught when one of them came up to us and asked if he could take a photo of us. Oops.
We still had a lot of time before getting the bike back so we decided to have a look around the area. Here we had our introduction to public transit in Cambodia.
We got back just in time for sunset on the Mekong and spent the evening relaxing and enjoying the stillness of Kampong Cham.
We talked to the owner of the Mekong Crossing the next day, we had already decided that we would stay another day, about what to do in the area. He told us of a scenic drive through rubber plantations to a temple on the river. He gave us clear directions and even drew us a map. We were to look for tree markings, two white and three black stripes, and that would be our turn off to Maha Leap Temple.
So we crossed the Mekong via the new bridge, and continued to the village where the first turn was.
We made the first turn ok and then kept our eyes open for the rubber plantation. Once in the rubber plantation, we had to watch for the tree markings after the bend in the road and just after the hill (as per the directions). Soon we were past the rubber plantation and had gone too far. I wasn't sure about the markings as they look the same but thought I may have seen the one that we need. We turned around and followed the path into the plantation. Soon we were in the cool shade of the rubber trees.
Three hours later and the plantation well explored and new villages discovered, we were still lost and no closer to the temple. We asked people but none of them knew what we were talking about but did their best to point us in the direction of Kampong Cham. One of the paths in the rubber plantation led to a paved road. We followed it and came to an intersection where we asked for directions. I don't know what we got but somehow we were on the right road. We stopped infront of a temple and hoped that we had arrived. We had some sugar cane juice at a stand, and asked for directions once more. Many locals came out into the hot sun to have a look and laugh at us.
Suddenly, we were lost again and had to find somewhere or someone to ask. Then we drove past an English school. It was surprising to see it there in the middle of nowhere. We stopped to ask and all the students came running out to say hello to us. Their teacher spoke perfect English, knew exactly where we were going, and pointed us in the right direction. His students were well impressed that he was having a converstation with us and I'm sure are studying harder now.
We arrived at Maha Leap temple and were greeted by some hyper boys playing on the stones being dredged from the river. What else is there to do on a hot day? They followed us around the temple and posed for every picture. They were really funny.
The drive back was so much easier. We just followed the paved road all the way to the highway and back to Kampong Cham.