A great sleep at the Reasmey Cheanich Hotel (Fan, $8). It’s in a quiet part of town so no early morning prayers from loud speakers (or crows from roosters) to be heard. Despite having multiple reviews on TripAdvisor it’s a brand new hotel and actually, not even officially open. That comes on Dec 27.
I spend the day visiting two of the local attractions. First up, the old French lookout tower. I’m surprised to find that it’s free, although it’s a precarious structure and climb to the top, steep stairs and no additional safety features. Half the stairs have two railings to cling on to, the other half have one and you find yourself gripping the steps in front of you for support.
After the tower I make my way to the bamboo bridge. It’s an amazing structure that provides access in the dry season to what looks like a sandbar on a map but is actually a sizable island with plenty of houses, shops, fields of crops and fruit, a school and a wat. In the wet season the river washes it away and access is only possible by boat. When the river drops again, the bridge is rebuilt using bamboo and bits metal wire to keep things together.
The island itself is an amazing place to explore, and even better if you get off the main roads and look for the smaller tracks. I had a great time exploring, taking photos and yes, interacting with the locals. Today’s highlight was a group of children playing marbles. Their version was to pick up your marble, place it on a finger, bend the figure back and catapult it into another’s marble. It looked fun enough but I told them I knew a thing or two about marbles and asked them to pay attention. I carved a circle into the dirt and moved ten paces away marking the distance with another line in the dirt. “Here’s how it works” I said. “You take your marble and you throw it towards the circle trying to get as close to it as possible”. Not speaking any English it really was a case of actions speaking louder than words. “Then, you use you thumb to hold back a finger and try and flick your marble into the circle. Lowest score wins. Ready? Let’s do this”. We played a few games, increased the distance to the ‘hole’ and played a few more. I’d like to think they were grateful for the instruction, and that they will now go around and teach the other kids on the island this strange new game, referencing the strange man from Oar-stra-lee who made them laugh by repeatedly, at the youngest one’s request, reenacting how the scabs on knees came from falling off the bike complete with screaming in agony. This bit was the funniest.
They showed me a large beehive and then said they had to go.
A nice day for a ride.