1st Sep 2011 - 4500 miles by land - SE Asia
'It's September, and I'm sweating slightly'
Tomorrow, we bid farewell to the hecticness of Cambodia and flee the country to Thailand for our last week of adventure. Having spent most of our time since China in small towns where you can happily amble down the middle of the road, confident in the hope that the motos will drive around you rather than into you, we're both feeling slightly nervous about the prospect of showing up in a city of 7.7 million people tomorrow evening. The most preparation we've had is a few days in Phnom Penh. The city's one skyscraper (built by China, who else..) was enough to make us stand in the street feeling very small, and for a while we were seriously considering the option of getting a tuk-tuk to take us across roads rather than taking our lives into our own hands and braving the onslaught of traffic. Siem Reap presented us with some slight traffic panic as we were cycling back from a day at Angkor; we managed to discover the one place in the whole of South East Asia that has a one-way traffic system by cycling the wrong way up it (I swear there were no signs suggesting that there might be a one-way system, and it works on the basis of 'Well it's OBVIOUSLY like this, it's intuitive'). Although maybe things like which side of the road to drive on will be a bit less open to interpretation in Bangkok?
The other day in Siem Reap we met an American couple who were on a 3-week blast through Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand. Having met a various people/headcases (delete as applicable) since Shanghai who were cycling across Asia/travelling for several years/on a mission to cycle up every mountain they came across, we'd gotten used to being the people in a conversation who listen in awe to other people's tales and chip in with 'Oooo' or 'I wish I could do that'. So it felt almost like travel karma when the Americans asked us where we've been, and we were able to tell them all about starting in Shanghai and travelling all the way down by bus and train, having no plan other than to be in Bangkok in time to fly home. The joy of being able to sound like the wild and adventurous ones!
And so off into our fourth and final country. I'm going to miss Cambodia - it's a very easy place to spend time in, and it's been a lot of fun pottering around the place. By the sounds of it, it's going to be a very different country in a few years time - according to a man we were talking to in Phnom Penh, the government's buying land off Cambodians for $150 per meter squared, and selling the same land on to foreign developers (Russian money launderers or Chinese developers) for $1500 per meter squared. I don't think much of the money makes it back into the community. Be an interesting thing to follow..
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