Finally our bus rocked up (a local one- so much for paying $7 for a VIP (!) bus with air con)
. Instead we got a cramped local bus (people carrier) where I had one bum cheek hanging off the seat as I was sharing a two-seater with two Cambodian girls who just giggled at me and James the whole journey (I clearly pulled - James). Luckily the journey was two and a half hours shorter than we initially thought (mainly because the driver ragged us all the way there on slippy/bumpy dirt roads). Anyway we arrived in one piece and got dropped off at Lakeside Lodge and checked in. Our room wasn't the best ($4) but we headed straight out for dinner. When we got back to our room I started to realise how much it looked like a bathroom...the floor and walls were tiled and it was really grubby (a bathroom or a mental institution) - (I think Hev removing my belt and shoelaces was slightly over the top! - James) . The next day we headed out to look for our original choice which was gorgeous ($8) so we checked out..after a few questions from the manager (We did a rehearsed "Got to meet some friends." line! - James) and an offer to see another room! Thanks trampy traveller!!
Weather was grim so we chilled and walked around the small town (Due to the lack of backpackers in this region we achieved celebrity status, with Heather gaining considerable admiration from the local 'lad' population. - James). We organised a motobike for the next day to visit the three waterfalls (two were awesome to swim in/behind and one was fairly pantos - James) and and lake (which is a volcanic crater) - (which is also amazing - you'd think you weren't in Cambodia, more like Switzerland minus the Nazi gold and creamy chocolate!- James)
. Unfortunately when we had a test drive of the motobike the next day we felt a little unsafe so then switched for drivers, which was a relief as the roads were really bad, it felt like a computer game - chickens, cows, bikes, small children running out in the road etc.(Clearly not a great computer game ;-) - James). I also attempted to eat a fried cricket which took about 15 minutes and then I only bit it in half and spat it out to the amusement of those in the vicinity. They eat crickets like I eat Haribo jellies so they looked at me as if I were strange acting like that over their delicacy. By the way it just tasted salty, there was no chance I was going to sink my teeth in to it though!
We then decided to do a two day jungle trek organised by a guy called Chico (I can hear you singing it's Chico time!). There was another couple- a Canadian and a Italian girl with us too. Chico was accompanied by the ranger - an indiginous guy who lived in rice fields in the jungle (we visited his farm too where he cooked our final meal and fed us 'jarwine' an indiginous alcohol made of rice and water). He cooked a mean pork stir fry! He made all our meals which were just fantastic! Bamboo was very efficient in the jungle...the indiginous guy (he was called Knife- spelling different but same pronunciation) made us walking sticks out it, little cups out of it, storage for the 'rice wine' a Cambodian alcohol made out of rice- it tastes different to 'jar wine' though
. He heated water in bamboo to make us tea which was just a chunk of aniseed smelling tree and made a bamboo curry type meal which was delicious. The area where are hammocks were hung was built with bamboo. Sleeping in a hammmock in the jungle was a bit weird, however James fell asleep within seconds (snoring all night to my embarrassment) (At least I wasn't weeing all night eh Hevski! - James). Yeah that wasn't good as it's really dark and bugs get attracted to your torch! Eeeek. We arrived back in one piece although the second day was much hotter and very humid.
Heather and James
So we left Si Phan Don to cross the Laos/Cambodian border which took about an hour as it included some daylight robbery with the $1 / $2 dollars here and there (health screening/filling in the same form 3 times?!?!?!?). The sleeping bus we got on was taking us direct to Ban Lung which I thought was slightly strange as everyone on the bus was heading for Siem Reap. As my gut feeling told me...yup we got dropped off around Stung Treng area at a random restuarant and told the bus to Ban Lung would come and get us in and hour or so! After getting plenty of glances and being laughed at I finally asked someone what time the bus was coming and was told 3pm...that was two and a half hours time!!! So we sat and waited, I hate waiting! A bus turned up and I got chatting to an English guy who had just been to Ban Lung, he recommended a place to stay that was cheap and nice. So we thought we would head there instead of our lonely planet choice as it would be dark when we arrived.