Sun Bears and Blackouts

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Phnom Penh, Cambodia

We met Davy and our driver at around 8am to drive 1.5 hours out to Phnom Chisor, a temple on top of a hill which offered amazing views of the countryside. Whilst Georgia felt well when we left, she started to feel car sick quite soon after we left, and was unwell for part of the trip. She felt better in the fresh air and counted 272 steps to the temple as we went up the women's path.

You could see for miles from the top, and Davy told us a little of the history of the temple which was built around the same time as Angkor Wat and faces in the direction of Ankgor Wat. It was almost deserted except for a few monks and caretakers on the site.

I entered the temple and an old man said a blessing and gave us incense to burn whilst we prayed to Vishnu and the multiple Buddhas settled in the temple.

We clambered over the ruins for a while, enjoying the tranquillity of the site, then headed back down a different route with around 280 steps down as we descended on the men's path.

From there we headed off to the Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Centre. It was a long, dusty road in, and we were pleased to arrive at the zoo. First off we wandered through the deer enclosure where the resident deer and the monkeys fought over the bags of food that we had bought to feed them. One of the deer took a liking to Georgia, but Jonno handed his food over to Simon as he didn't like being attacked by the deer and monkeys who were determined to get the food as quickly as possible.

We saw many Siamese crocodiles resting by their pools, then walked on to see the sun and moon bears, which have been rescued and treated by the Centre.

The sun bears and moon bears are native to Cambodia and many have been rescued. We read some of their stories on how they were rescued.

We then moved on to see the tiger pacing in its cage. He didn't seem to appreciate getting his photo taken and expressed his displeasure loudly.

We saw gibbons and elephants, then stopped for lunch. We waited on mats on the raised platforms whilst the cooks made chicken soup and chicken stirfry from whole chickens that they cut in front of us. Unfortunately, this meant chop chop chicken that was chock full of bones and cut so that you had no idea what part of the chicken you were eating - except for the feet and neck which were still readily identifiable. We spent a lot of time picking the meat off the bones.

After lunch we returned to the hotel to rest, shower and relax. Then we lost power, which meant that we lost the wi fi connection - so the kids didn't have as many options to relax over! The whole area was without power, and the room was getting quite warm, so we decided to head off to dinner. The internet had gone down in the midst of my research, but I had managed to identify one restaurant close to the hotel, Domrei Kitchen, that sounded ideal.

We wandered a few narrow streets, where people were out kicking balls and sitting in candle light but there was power around the main road and the rest of the walk. The restaurant was set in a garden space with trickling water from the water features as background music. We selected dishes that we hadn't tried before including chive pancakes, natang (a pork minced based dish served with baguettes), a crispy crepe dish that we ate with lettuce leaves, a chicken curry in palm sugar which was delicious and a beef and noodle dish. Jonno kept saying "this is different to anything we have ever eaten before". A great experience.

Another early start tomorrow as we head off to Battambang.