Same, same, but different

The border crossing went off without a hitch, I was stamped out of Vietnam and rode over to Cambodia. I went inside for visa processing only to find I was the only person crossing the border, and iI mean the ONLY one, and yet i waited. I am not exactly sure what for, there was plenty of paperwork getting shuffled around the desk, long phone calls to be had. The very stern paper shuffling official looks at me and states “visa”.  I shake my head, followed by more waiting and finally he points to the counter way over the otherside, of course no one was there. So I wander over and wait. Finally visa guy arrives, money paid, including $5 queue jump money, yes i was ripped off. And back to paper shuffler for a little more waiting and then an endless flurry of stamps. I get to ride off into Cambodia, around the boom gate because the guard is sleeping, and that is what I call going to plan.

The difference between Vietnam and Cambodia was obvious straight away,  less traffic and way less beeping, less people and less rubbish.  I loved the Khmer slat houses on stilts, mostly painted the same blue, the families congreagating underneath to get out of the stifling heat. The school girls no longer where the beautiful Ao Dai, they instead wear a long black skirt with a white shirt, they still ride bicycles to school. Gone is the Non la, the conical Vietnamese hats the farmers wore, they now wear a krama, a khmer traditional scarf wrapped around their head.

DSC00298
This a mansion by Khmer standards, this is a restuarant at the La Plantation pepper farm.

The road rules are the same, there aren’t many, or any, more of a system to avoid collisions. The people seem poorer, the schools not as maintained, but its more expensive here, food costs more, the US$ is widely used and everything seems rounded up to suit. Maybe i am just paying tourist prices.  The Cambodians arent up at 5.00am like the Vietnamese, the village alarm clock goes off at 5.00am followed by the announcements and a call to the party faithful to get out of bed and work for a strong country,  I was up at 5.00am this morning for an early start and nothing much was happening so I went back to bed, no early morning Banh Mi for me.

I spent the day sightseeing, I hired a scooter to give my butt and legs a well earned rest and rode up to Bokor Hill Station, what a strange place, a little eerie. Mist covered mountain with abandoned buildings.  A monstruous resort, which is operating, with only one tour bus in the expansive car park. It seems doomed to be the next abandoned  building. Its so cool up on the mountain, I would have thought it was a perfect escape from the heat.


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