Sunday 26th Feb
We travelled from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh by VIP Coach, price per ticket $11 (£7 approx), distance 314 km, journey time 6 hours. We left on time and weaved our way our way through the tuk tuks and the hundreds of motorbikes on the highway N6. Once out of the city the traffic eased and the roads seemed good. I thought things were looking up. 148 km and 2 hours later we made our first stop. No tuk tuk drivers, just people trying to sell fruit, food and a pick-a-mix of 4 different types of cooked insects (all with chilli) . 1/2 hour later we hit the road again. We’d been informed that the countryside was pretty flat and no breathtaking views. How right they were! We travelled through small towns and many villages, dodging the cattle, other vehicles and the occasional child taking their life in their little hands.
The villages we travelled through were mostly poor country folk trying to earn a living growing rice, fruit or chopping wood. We saw hundreds/thousands of ponds, every home/shack no matter how poor had one. It’s strange, wherever abject poverty exists in the world, the newest and best buildings are banks, petrol stations and places of religion, here its is Buddhist temples (Wats).
Anyway, back to the journey, after 200+ km, we entered the Cambodian Peak District! Well in fact it was 2 hills, not very big, in fact they both had quarries on them eating into the hill. I guess they may have been spoiling someone’s view.
Our hopes were dashed of arriving early. It soon became evident that major roadworks were taking place. Unlike other countries who would start and complete a section, here they decided to dig up and take down bridges over a 50 km stretch of road. Finally we arrived on a toll road, dual carriage way and entered Phnom Penh only 1 hour late.
Phnom Penh was a pleasant surprise, cleaner than Siem Reap, not many tourist attractions unless you feel like visiting the “Killing Fields”. Here over 20,000 mass graves containing 1.36 million Cambodians killed by the Khmer Rouge between 1975 and 1979. You can see thousands of skulls on display of those who were killed.