3AM: Lee wakes up to watch last half of World Cup finals. Goes back to sleep happy for Italy and wishing bad, bad things for Zidane.
6:30AM: Wake up and pack.
7:05AM: Go to front desk to check out and order breakfast to go. Find only one worker- a bar keep. Order is placed as kitchen shows no signs of life.
7:15AM: Take bags to front desk... Food is being cooked slowly, checkout process begins, slowly. Feel anxiety about catching 7:45am bus.
7:35AM: Breakfast is done, but no takeaway containers. Must wait for someone to run next door. tick-tock tic-tock. Finally board the backs of two motorcycles (motos) for the bus station. Board bus with little fanfare.
8:15AM: Cambodian karaoke plays on the bus TV and sound system.
11:15AM: While arriving in Phnom Penh, Sachi notices a large stream of ants traveling up and down the window on her left as the woman beside me utilizes a third bus-supplied barf bag. Sachi feels thankful for motion patch.
11:55AM: Arrive at first bus station in Phnom Penh only to reboard same bus to go to main terminal to catch new bus for 6 hour ride to Siem Reap. Our bus to Siem Reap is full. Walk to other bus companies, find another 12:30 bus to Siem Reap for US$7 per person.
12:48PM: Depart Phnom Penh for Siem Reap with an ETA of 5:30pm. We'll see.
1:48PM: This bus smells like urine and the AC doesn't keep the sweat away.
3:35PM: Lee commences all out assault on bus toilet door, which swings open incessantly just feet from his seat. After closing it for the 12th time, resolves to find a solution. The urine smell will be defeated!
4:17PM: Lee breaks a new sweat with each close of the toilet door. No one seems to appreciate the effort.
5:43PM: Lee continues to be mocked by the bathroom door and it's rank smells. Despite fastening a canvas strap supplied by the bus people (a victorious solution), a steady flow of fellow passengers fail to recognize our plight and the door remains open for most of the time. Grrrrr. Lee admits defeat in the final moments.
6:10PM: Arrive in Siem Reap and into the typical SE Asian madhouse of tuk-tuk drivers, bags emerging from the belly of the bus and astounding inefficiency. We take a tuk-tuk to our hotel and retire for the evening after spending 10 hours on Cambodian busses.
I sometimes feel like we're talking a bit too much about our activities and not so much about our experience, if you know what I mean. We aim to change that a bit, but for now, an experience we had yesterday deserves a little publication.
Don is a friendly Irish ex-pat that runs Coaster's Bungalows where we're staying in Sihanoukville. Yesterday, Don saw me on our balcony and said, in his Irish accent "Hey! Are you leaving today? We're going out to the waterfall, if you wanna go, meet us at the bar in 30." Waterfall? We had not heard about the waterfall! Upon looking at the guidebooks (Footprint and Rough Guide), no waterfall is mentioned.
As it turned out, we got to follow along on a waterfall trip with Don and his family (wife Carrie and daughter Anna). After driving for about 30 minutes (including a "shortcut" through barely passable roads") we went down a long dirt road that ended at some shacks and a washed out bridge. After being ferried over the river we came upon a waterfall, or actually a set of waterfalls that were certainly among the best I've ever seen. Given a little more care and infrastructure, the falls have the potential to become a national landmark- they are that impressive.
Situated at the convergence of two rivers, the water falls fall into a basin that appears to have dropped about 10 meters all at once, creating a valley where you are surrounded by waterfalls from two rivers. Stunning.
The highlight is a set of falls that flow off an outcropping, enabling people to climb behind it in short ledges. What a weird feeling. It's a bit like the first time you snorkle and your body has to learn that it can, indeed, breathe underwater. With water flowing over your eyes and mouth and crashing over your head, threatening to grab you and slam you on the rocks below, the experience is a more than a bit breathtaking.
Water rushing by overhead...
Don, our guide for the day...
If you want to visit the Kabal Chai falls, ask about it at the guesthouses in Sihanoukville. It is best in the rainy season for obvious reasons and the rivers dwindle to a trickle in the dry season.