Monday, 27 April 2009

Cambodia: thoughts on... 16 April, 2009

We arrived yesterday morning at the Laos/Cambodia border (15th April). And by 12 noon we were on the bus making our way to Ban Lung.

The first thing I noticed about Cambodia was the roads. The journey was bumpy, incedibly bumpy. In fact, I don't think I've ever been on a road that is quite so bumpy.

We arrived in Ban Lung 5 hours later than anticipated - I'd say it was a sign of things to come, but it wasn't really. Our arrival was welcomed with a lot of fully booked guest houses - it was Cambodian New Year! It took a while but we eventually found a room for the four of us and at a pretty good price too.

Once we had dumped our bags and spent a good ten minutes admiring the spectacularly large cockroach in our bathroom we headed to join in with the New Year Celebrations.

So there we were expecting a big ole party and we rocked up at the Cambodian equivalent of a summer fete. There were food stalls set up, games to play (popping balloons with darts - I was rubbish), and a bit of a disco tent which had a pinata. It was really busy with people and everyone was just enjoying themselves. We grabbed some dinner and a beer and headed to watch the pinata. I have to say, it did look a little dangerous, this pinata was not made from bog rolls and tissue paper... oh no, terra cotta pots... that shattered everywhere.

We had a nice walk round and people were really excited to see us there joining in with the fun. Some even dared to say "Hello" to us. We all instantly fell in love with the people.

Then, at 11pm, it all stopped. The music stopped, everyone started packing up, and everyone made their way out, it was over.

New Year in Cambodia is a bit confusing. Like in Laos and Thailand it's a three day event, and no one has been able to tell us when it's New Year's Day and when it's New Year's Eve. In a two day event you don't have this problem, but in a three day event it is a cause for confusion.

Today (16 April), we went to a Volcanic Lake and a couple of Waterfalls. It has been a brilliant day. Because of the New Year malarkey everyone has a public holiday so all the Cambodian families were out enjoying themselves at the Lake and Waterfalls too. It always adds a different element when you visit these beautiful places on a weekend or holiday. During the week they are normally quite quiet, but they really come to life at the weekend as the locals are out to enjoy themselves as well.

The people watching at the lake was briillliant. Everyone was on top form celebrating. Mums, dads, boys and girls, people of all ages bombing, diving and bellyflopping into the lake, fully clothed! The place was buzzing!

It was a great way to see the Cambodian people enjoying themselves. They loved it when we jumped into the lake and watched us swim with great fascination.

The Lake itself was a little disappointing, we expected to find a rough craggy volcano with steam, lava and everything. But this volcano was topped with green trees and bushes. But despite all that the day was awesome!

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