Phnom Tamao and the vicious gibbon.

After the previous night’s exploits we were up early again, this time to go to a wildlife conservation park called Phnom Tamao. Simon our tuk tuk driver picked us up at 8am and we spent the next two hours travelling along broken roads past beautiful countryside and large mounds of rubbish.

I had done quite a bit of research on the park as we didn’t want to go somewhere that treated the animals poorly. It was recommended in the lonely planet guide I have and trip advisor reviews were pretty good.

Once we turned off the main road we were on a dirt track with all the bumps and dips that come with it, but Simon is a pretty good driver and managed to avoid most of them. We went past a few beggars and Leia gave them a bit of money.

Once we arrived all the reviews of the place went out of my head, it looked atrocious. There was no one else there, a load of abandoned looking restaurants and some dodgy looking cages that were a bit dilapidated.

Once we got closer the enclosures were large, about the same size as Chester zoo if not bigger. Leia stood on a hole crawling with termites and jumped about a foot in the air, it was hilarious.

The first area had all manner of birds such as sea eagles, owls, kites and….chickens. They all looked well groomed and the sea eagle was huge!

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We wandered through and just about saw a leopard cat hiding in the trees of one enclosure, a slow loris curled up in a ball, otters running about playing, and a civet, an animal I’ve not come across before. As we stood and tried to entice the civet closer with some roots Liam had bought earlier, we heard a noise. There was a monkey sat behind us!

It was kinda cute but I’m not a big monkey lover, Liam enjoyed feeding it though and a couple more appeared wanting food. The civet gave them a good warning hiss to keep away from the cage too.

It was fun having these monkeys come up cheekily asking for food, but once the roots were packed up they paid us no attention.

We continued our wanderings and fed porcupines, saw how good crocodiles are at camouflage, and saw some very cute deer.

We walked through a gate near the crocodiles to view the water birds and Leia was convinced we were going into the croc pen, it was hilarious how jumpy she was, thinking that at any moment a croc would come shooting out of the undergrowth or water and get her.

The water birds turned out to be some herons, a staple of the British countryside. So we stopped for a drink at one of the many stalls dotted about and continued on.

There was an area for pangolins, the small armadillo like creature, but sadly none were there. We passed a gibbon enclosure and read that he had cataracts and was blind, Liam held out a piece of root and he took it, then he held our hands. It was adorable and such a great moment.

We then arrived at the sun bear enclosure, which contained loads of information about why they’re captured, only it was quite similar to the place in Laos. However we got to feed them from a high vantage spot and one bear made a sound like he was laughing hysterically, Β it was so much fun.

There were a couple of lions but they were lying in the sun a bit too far away, about 8 huge pythons and some gibbon enclosures. The first one we got to there was a really cute baby one with two adults, they took some root but as Liam was stood by the cage one reached out and smacked him on the head!

It was quite funny and we didn’t think much of it as we moved on, reaching another gibbon cage, but as I held my hand out with some root the gibbon scratched down my hand and drew blood! It was a good reminder that however cute the animals looked they’re wild and untamed!

We avoided future gibbon enclosures and saw some jackals in the distance, tigers who had displayed unsettling behaviour of walking to and fro on the same path, it was the only time I felt sad. I don’t know if they had experienced trauma or whether it was am extended stay in the zoo that caused it.

We went to see the elephants, the final area but when we got there it was closed off. I realised it’s for people who make $150 donations and they get to meet the elephants, feed and wash them. One elephant lost it’s foot in a poacher trap but they made it a prosthetic foot! We did see her from a distance but it was a bit disappointing they weren’t closer.

With that we had walked in the sun for 4 hours and were ready to feel the breeze of a 2 hour tuk tuk journey back to Phnom Penh.

Arriving back we wanted food, and ended up in an Indian of all places they both had curries but I stuck with the tried and tested papaya salad.

It was all really good but we now had 5 hours to wait for our night bus to siem reap. We ended up walking through a park by the palace where loads of people were out playing, eating and drinking. It was lovely, Leia and Liam got coconut and green tea ice cream and we walked back to walkabout, a bar near the hotel.

Feeling drained we just had waters and Liam had a beer and we whiled away the time watching the goings on of Cambodian women and old fat westerners. It seemed like an eternity but we finally got into our tuk tuk to the bus.

On reading reviews we had decided on giant ibis as it had sleeping bunks, water, WiFi and power outlets. Only problem was that it was freezing! The air con was right above me and the thin blanket we got didn’t give us much cover. We were gutted and spent the next 6 hours or so shivering and trying to get some sleep, but I think we managed about 2 hours in total. The air con above me was broken so I couldn’t even turn it off.

We then arrived in Siem Reap with the usual sea of tuk tuks ready to whisk us off to our hotels at an inflated price.

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