Saturday, 14 January 2017

Beaches are beckoning (Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville by train AGAIN)

4:30 am  
I wake up again when the alarm clock rings even though I already had coffee after waking up at 3 am.  More than enough sleep this night, but then it takes sleep for the body to do whatever it does when you force it to re-activate or rebuild muscles that haven't been used in quite  a while.

I am going to miss the serene lightscape of the other bank of the Tonle Sap before dawn.  
6 am.  As expected, there is not a soul in reception.  The front door of the hotel is still pseudo-locked from the inside (i.e. the arch of the padlock inserted through loops but not locked). So we just leave the key and sneak out, leaving the doors with the appearance of still being locked when viewed from the street.
Monastery with morning Full Moon

We're not the only ones awake at this hour

We reach the Phnom Penh Railway Station with the full moon still poised above it.

The old and the new. A confrontation seen more and more in Asia, but the old doesn't really have a chance unless it can serve as a tourist money magnet.

6:57 am.
I am writing this ON-BOARD the Royal Express Train.   Not only did they exchange the rickety cars I traveled in during last November for newly renovated ones, they ALSO fixed the internet issue, so that Cambodian Railways offers now FREE FUNCTIONING WiFi on its train.  And while the new cars offer taller westerners a chance to fall asleep on their comfy benches, I do miss the old knee-bumping ones just because of the two meter gap between the cars that was bridged by a metal walkway and safety chains.  Now the cars are internally connected.  No adventure left ;-(

After one hour, all the novelty of the train journey is gone.  Only 6 hours more to bear ;-(

2:15 pm. FINALLY, the train has arrived in Sihanoukville.  Even though we already walked 3 km to the train station this morning, I NEED to move, so we brave the onslaught of Tuk-Tuk, motorbike and taxi offers and start walking.  

After about 2 minutes of that I realize several things:  This was probably not a good idea because it is far, busy, hot,and I'm old.

For the first kilometer we're MUCH faster than cars and tuk-tuks, because we can squeeze through the tight spots ;-)
The ONLY way to stay off the road and get ahead at the same time

When we finally reach the guesthouse (Thank You, Google Maps, for directing us to the LOCKED REAR gate of the property), my clothes are drenched with sweat.  NO, I'm being serious here, they are DRENCHED. I almost slide of the toilet seat when I sit on one a few minutes later !~!~!

After a cold instant coffee (no water kettle) and a shower (right next to the toilet that refuses to flush properly), we remember the priorities.

I have started to very much notice that ALL I have been eating ALL DAY since 3 am this morning is peanuts and dried banana chips.  I NEED some REAL food NOW.

I decide to trust Google Maps again, which sends us even further UPHILL.  Still exhausted and hungry, we don't even care that this seems to take us into the girly bar section of Sihanoukville.

But we find a bar with a decent menu:

Couscous with Merguez sausage.  The restaurant is only 500 meters uphill from the hotel and as soon as we sit down those dark clouds that I had noticed hanging over the hills show what they can do. Unimaginable the luggage carnage this would have caused if this downpour had started 40 minutes earlier.

Back at the guest house after eating (all of a 5 minute walk) it starts pouring AGAIN. 

Enough of this day!  SLEEP !

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