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Checking out of Cambodia

sunny 29 °C

We left Cambodia today with a heartfelt farewell. After one month in the place I've become extremely fond of it despite its many faults. We spent the last three days around Koh Kong, an area of extreme natural beauty and in hindsight the most geographically diverse of all the regions we visited. It has it all - mountains, sea and lots of other stuff to boot. Whilst it was only meant to be a stopover on the way in to Thailand we could have easily spent much longer in the area. On our first day in Koh Kong City I bumped into an Irish guy who has spent the last eleven years - on and off - in SE Asia and most of that in Cambodia. He was on a slow journey back to Phnom Penh to get himself a job. He recommended getting out to the countryside so we took his advice. We took a tuk-tuk out to the Tatai waterfall the following day and then headed on to the mangrove forests on the coast - spectacular stuff by any standards. On our last day in Cambodia we checked into Rainbow Lodge, an eco resort just outside Koh Kong. It's set along the Tatai River in the jungle and it was an inspired move. The kids spent the day tubing and kayaking in the river and then we took a sunset cruise down the river towards the sea. We took in the sunset with a Cambodia beer in hand. It was a great way to spend our last night. After the cruise we returned for a sumptuous buffet dinner in the company of a French family, an English couple, a Swiss lady and the management of the resort - an English guy and his Welsh girlfriend. They were quite delightful company, well not the French family as they just went to bed straight after dinner!

Today we crossed the border, a pretty simple affair as it turns out, and hopped on a minibus to Trat in Thailand. Once again we had little expectation about the place but it turns out to be quite a delightful place. We're staying in the Ban Jai Dee Guesthouse which is run by a French guy and his Thai wife. He's a walking information bureau on both Trat and the nearby islands. He's been living here for about thirty years and is a great ambassador for the place. Following his recommendation we've booked ourselves into a place on Koh Kood Island tomorrow. He arranged the accommodation and transport even though it means we'll be staying one less night in his place. A true gent.

Having been in Cambodia for a month it makes a very pleasant change to have the variety of food in Thailand. I don't mean western food either. The markets in Thailand are truly wonderful. This evening we had starters, mains and desserts for six people at the market stalls and it came to less than seven euro for the six of us. The range and quality of food available is amazing. Even Joe and Paddy found something to eat. I had the most amazing Pad Thai for about 70cent. The pace of the place is also a welcome respite from the onslaught of Cambodian life. There were no tuk-tuk drivers in our face when we got off the minibus, instead it was a quite orderly affair to get into Trat and find somewhere to stay. We lucked out with the guesthouse which is costing about 12 euro for two rooms and is in a beautiful wooden building down a quiet sidestreet in the town. The town also has the most beautiful old shophouses that I've come across on our travels. Reading the guidebooks you'd be led to believe that Trat has nothing to offer the traveller but as wit Koh Kong it is a bit of an undiscovered gem.

Tomorrow morning we take the boat to Koh Kood. Things were a bit up in the air as it's the Queen of Thailands birthday today and a public holiday tomorrow. This weekend and New Years are apparently the busiest times on the islands as the hordes of Thais descend on them for these two holidays. Here in Trat there's been fireworks and most of the bars are closed around the town. A guy on a nearby sidestreet has set up an outdoor cinema and is using an oldstyle projector to show a dubbed version of Judge Dredd starring Sylvester Stallone. I passed by about half an hour ago and he's the only one watching. In fairness it was crap in English so it's no wonder really.

We've just one week left on our travels. I expected Thailand to be a bit of a letdown for our last week but now I'm really looking forward to our last few days here, its capacity to surprise and entertain is quite unbelievable. We'll look forward to our few days of island life and then a couple of days in Bangkok before our return home. Three months sounded like a long time three months ago but it truly has flown. It's been delightful and testing in equal measures - just like life I suppose.

Posted by goldenmaverick 08:58 Archived in Thailand

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I must check out Trat too now, I seem to have missed out a few places when I was there and now have to go back to see if you are correct ;-)

Keep up the good work. I would love your impressions on being back home, always seems hard to us to come back to Europe, whereas arriving in Asia is no bother.

by Richie

Belated birthday greetings to Harry and Ciaran, had no phone while on hols! Looking forward to seeing you all. Caroline how is your hair so perfect in all the pics, I had to do with out a hair dryer for a wk and I look like Miss Frizz 2012 in all my pics. Have a safe journey home, Sam looking forward to having the boys over for a slp over where they can entertain him with their stories of their travels. Lots of love Carol-Ann

by Carol-Ann

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