Sunday, 3 June 2012

Day 71 - Petrol pumps, happy fields and difficult decisions. (Cambodia)

We spent today driving from Kratie, where we stayed last night, to Banlung, in the North East of Cambodia. A lot of what we drove through was pretty deserted, reminding us a bit of driving through the centre of Australia - except for the bright green fields, the puddles and the lots of pretty big foliage. It was really the first time since we've been in Asia though that we experienced somewhere so unpopulated.

Luckily we had made the smart decision of filling up with petrol before leaving Kratie in the morning - even though the trend has been that it's cheaper in the countryside than in the cities and towns. We did pass a couple of petrol stations in the 300 km between Kratie and Banlung, but these establishments consisted of a couple of small plastic canisters (sometimes bottles) with a handmade pump attached, usually at the front of somebody's house. Not exactly what we want to be piling into Trevor if we can avoid it, and I highly doubt they have the 50 litres necessary to fill up our tank. I'm sure it's only a matter of time until we really have to deal with one of these places, but for now, we have once again succeeded on buying proper petrol.

There was some very interesting scenery to observe on our drive today, not least of all about 100 kilometres of marijuana fields. When we first realised what it was we were all pretty excited and of course got out to take some photos. And then we realised it just kept going and going and going. One theory is that these plants are harvested for hemp, but really we're not sure. I tried smoking some only to be informed by the boys that I had chosen the one pine tree in the area and I was trying to smoke the bark.

When we arrived in Banlung we did our usual quick look in Lonely Planet for some guidelines as to which areas to look for accommodation in. Then usually we split up and walk around, congregating after a while to compare options and make a decision. The decision making normally comes down to a vote, often involving lots of toing and froing, everybody getting frustrated and way too much wasted time. The last few places where we've split, it's been into Teams Eilidh/Tunkles and Denner/Ben, and each time Team Eilidh/Tunkles finds the best place, so we've sort of become the dream team. We did this usual dance of pros and cons with our options in Banlung - $5 (2 people) in a basic room at a nice hotel with good parking but nowhere cool to hang out; $7 at the same hotel but in a really posh room; or $7 for a wooden building (so fly nets around the beds), basic but cool jungly type room, and a nice place to hang out with a good view. We were so torn that the usual voting system just didn't cut it and we resorted to a coin flip (awkward when you're in a country that only has paper currency, but we found one none the less), which we then ended up voting against anyway, choosing the third option. And so here we are sitting in a wooden hut overlooking the valley we're on the side of.

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