I have been trying to update as I go along like you wouldn’t believe! But trying to find the time, facilities or the energy to sit and write even a paragraph over the last few days has been a mission within itself!
I’ve been battling against lack of internet, battery power, socialising, and sheer exhaustion each time I even attempt to write something on here.
But today, I seem to have stolen a small amount of time to be able to stop and get a few words down.
So what have I been up to? Well let me just start with my day today – it started off nice and early (5.30am I believe our alarms were set for), to be picked up from our guesthouse in Siem Reap to be taken to the local coach station for our onward journey to 4000 islands, Laos. Not so bad, it was quite nice being up early and seeing the day before it had fully risen and set to work.
At 7.30am our coach arrived. Now, when I say coach, what I mean to say is small cramped-out minibus with barely working air-conditioning, probably about 20 years of age with zero comfort and absolutely no room to manoeuvre whatsoever when fully loaded – which, of course, it eventually was!
“This, is guna be a long day”, I muttered to Lisa.
Not only did we have this unexpected and unwelcome surprise mode of transport to deliver us to our destination, 10 hours away, but we then had the joy of driving around Siem Reap for an hour and forty five minutes whilst the driver chased down, who we can only suppose were his friends, to join us on our already ‘knees in face’ cramped minibus!
Needless to say we were all getting a little impatient!
But – as always, what could we do. They have their ways of doing things and approaching a situation, and we, we needed to get to 4000 islands. And this coach was the only one headed in that direction. So, we all swallowed it!
This was a bit of a grumpy start to the day. But, as the day continued and we met more and more people, I started to get that feeling again of ‘this is all just part and parcel’. By the time we got to the border crossing, we were all sat discussing our visas and laughing at how they will just charge whatever they feel like charging on that day – today we paid US$40 for the visa (should normally be $35) and $2 for an exit and $2 for an entrance stamp…which some how added up to $45! Go figure. But honestly, who has the time or energy to dispute it.
We sat around for an hour or so, talking and getting to know each other. Sharing travel stories, as well as where we’re from and what brought us to this particular place in the world at this particular moment in time. There were some French (oo la la, there is something about a French accent I have to say!), Swedish, Swiss, Dutch, American and a couple more Brits. I just love to listen to peoples travel history, where they’ve been, what they’ve loved and what they haven’t so much. It’s a buzz to share in their enthusiasm. That being said, there are the odd folk that you just want to slap a strip of masking tape across their mouth coz they just won’t shut the hell up! We had one of those today on our minibus – I won’t tell you which nationality it was!
So night time had fallen by now, and we were all ushured to walk up and through the border crossing to then load up onto another minibus for our final half hour drive to the boat that would take us across to Don Det in 4000 islands.
This last bit to me was just all the things that I love about travelling and being on the road and not having an itinerary planned. You just stumble across little gems that you could never pre-empt. We stopped off at, what I guess can be called a small docking port – now when I say small, I mean a plank of wood to walk us from the muddy edge of the Mekong onto some more planks which was tied up to a small wooden boat that, on one side would sit ten cramped backpackers (that would be us) and on the otherside, our backpacks, that would take us the small trip across the water.
The water was still and dark, the stars were out in all their might, and the only noises to be heard were the deafening sounds of the crickets and bugs, toads and geckos all happily chirping away. A short while later and we had reached our final destination.
I’ve only been here a few hours but what I can make of it already is that it has a very chilled and laid back vibe, perfect for me. We had dinner and a beer in a local bar across the way from our guesthouse, and carried on having fun the way that you do when you have little to no cares in the world (even if its only for a small short few hours).
Tomorrow I think we will be hiring a bicycle to cycle around the island, and over to a neighbouring island that has waterfalls and supposedly some river dolphins. I’ve also been told that the sunsets here are not to be missed – so I’ll let you know how it goes (hopefully – if I can steal another hour to myself tomorrow)