Our Asia Trip Diary – Part Sixteen

Check out part fifteen here!

Monday was our last full day in Laos. We’re still at Don Det. We spend the day relaxing and eating. In the afternoon I really wanted to go tubing once again. Last time (in Vang Vieng), the tubing experience was quite disappointing. But this time it would be different! We rented two tubes and walked to the “port” where we started tubing. Port is a strong word, as it is just a few square meters of beach where boats come and go.

It’s all fun and we’re floating by all the restaurants we’ve been to the last few days. The island isn’t that big you know. Our goal is to reach a sandbank a few hundred meters on the other side of the island. Once reached, we roll in the sand and jump into the river when the sun starts to set. When it’s getting colder, we cross the river to go back to our hotel. 

Tuesday was a long travel day from Don Det, an island in the Mekong River, to Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia. Starting with a longtail ferry boat back to the mainland. There we had to wait for a shuttle bus that would bring us to the border. We passed the border ourselves and although we heard of a lot of scams, we get through it quite easily. Luckily, we were prepared and brought dollars with us! No dollars, no visa. 

After the border crossing, we get into another shuttle bus that brings us to some place where we could have lunch. First shocker of Cambodia… Damn, this is expensive! Prices for food are three times as what we’re used to. Then we get into a 15-person minivan with 17 people and luggage… You can imagine, not cool. We spend the eight-hour drive watching a new show. 

On Wednesday we woke up in a new country! We explored the neighbourhood and went to the central market. Not so special in our opinion. On the way, we also fixed a new sim card. After some planning, we spoiled ourselves with some food at the night market. This was very cosy. In the middle of all the food stalls, rugs were places where everyone enjoys their food.

 In the evening we watched ‘First they killed my father’ to introduce ourselves to the black history of Cambodia. In short: Between 1975 and 1979, less than fifty years ago, a national genocide took place in this country. The Khmer Rouge led by Pol Pot is responsible for the death of 3 million Cambodians. Those victims were tortured, enslaved, starved and murdered. All of the murders were brutal as the Khmer Rouge didn’t want to waste their precious ammunition.

Thursday was a heavy day. In the morning we went to the Killing fields. At this place, victims of the Khmer Rouge were murdered in brutal ways. Mass graves were found here together with other evidence of the genocide. An audio guide guided us through the killing fields and its history. We took our time and listen to everything, including the stories of survivors. 

In the afternoon we visited Tuol Sleng, better known as the S21 prison. The buildings used to be a school but the Khmer Rouge used them as their Security Prison. Twenty thousand imprisoned victims got tortured and executed at this site. The museum gives a picture of all horror that happened at that time. 

Friday we took a bus to Kep, a small beach town located in the south of Cambodia. This time it was a nice bus trip and we enjoy some lunch in Kep before heading to our accommodation. This time our hotel was located a bit outside the centre to save us some money. But this cheaper hotel included free bikes! 

So on Saturday, we biked around Kep. The big highlight was the Crab Market. We’ve seen tons of markets already, but this one really was special. Located right next to the beach they serve fresh seafood. But their speciality is crab, and we see the crab catches just a few meters into the sea. We also cycled through the town and realised it is quite small. We decided to continue our journey tomorrow to another nearby town, Kampot. 

So on Sunday, we took the bus to Kampot. After a small ride, we arrive in the city and walk towards our hotel. We took the afternoon to relax and have some video calls with the family. In the evening we explore the night markets in the town. Kampot has two-night markets and they are equally… disappointing. They have a few children’s attractions (small bumper cars etc), some clothing stalls and a few food shops that looked mostly closed. We find another local restaurant near the road and we ask for a noodle soup and some fried noodles. Safe choice? Well apparently not, as we received fish soup and fish noodles. Sometimes the food is a big gamble here and today we definitely lost. But for tomorrow we have some fun new activities planned, so we hope for a better day!