I left Kampot on Friday morning, spending most of the day travelling on the unique transport that is Cambodia’s bus network. There was the usual late departure, long stops en route for apparently no reason, and general chaos at every possible moment. I had to change buses in Phnom Penh, which was an experience. Many people with official looking passes, but noone with any information about where I would find my bus. Luckily I had met a Scottish woman called Lorraine in Kampot who was travelling all the way to Kampong Cham, too, so she stayed with the bags while I periodically wandered along the line of buses asking if one of them was mine. Eventually, it arrived and almost left without us. Late, naturally.
Having done a spot of moaning, I must admit that the bus journeys are always an experience and they are a great way to see the country. For that reason, I never feel like I am ‘wasting’ a day when I take a long bus trip.
I got to Kampong Cham late afternoon. It’s a town on the Mekong River. It used to be Cambodia’s third city, but Siem Reap and Sihanoukville have usurped it. I found it to have a special laid back charm. I have been feeling a little tired over the last few days – part travel fatigue, part due to the heat, and also probably because I picked up a bit of a stomach bug a couple of days ago. Nothing serious. But enough to make me feel a little lethargic. I decided to check myself into the most expensive room (river-view balcony) of allegedly the ‘smartest’ hotel in town. A relative term of course… I met someone on the bus back to Phnom Penh yesterday who had also stayed there and hilariously we had both taken photos of our beds because they were rather grand affairs – exhibit A:
I also had a TV in my room and decided to check out BBC World. It stayed on for about 10 minutes before I could bear it no longer. If I hear one more story about horse meat…. And I decided it’s not essential I know anything about the wars, disease, meteors, or murders that are going on in the world. After all, there is very little I can do about them when I am equipped with little more than a pair of MC Hammer traveller pants.
I did very little in Kompong Cham. There wasn’t that much to see or do anyway, but I decided that sleep, reading, people watching and day dreaming were more important than activity. At least for a couple of days. I generally think these passtimes, along with idling, are much underrated and get a very bad press.
At dusk I watched a group of bonkers Cambodians line dancing under the main bridge across the Mekong River. Apparently it’s a daily ritual. It all looked very dance flash mob to me, but they seemed to be taking it seriously. I didn’t get any photos as I was having a long phone call with an old friend. I’m sure readers can conjure the image for themselves.
I had to revise my travel plans – I was hoping to catch a bus to Sen Monorom but there is only one bus per day that doesn’t leave until midday, arriving at 4pm (by which what the timetable really means is arriving after dark). As I was only going to have a couple of days there, I decided to ditch it in favour of coming back to Phnom Penh – there were a couple of things I missed first time around because of the King’s cremation. So they have now been re-scheduled and I have booked myself into a Khmer cooking course for my last day.