We have now been here for a couple of days and are settling into the way of life here, whilst now working in a single currency, rather than the dual currency of Cambodia. The enormous denominations of money are taking some getting used to. On our arrival, we immediately cashed $100 AUD into Kip, I must admit Money Changers are plentiful around where we are staying, the current rate is 1 AUD = 6000 Kip.
Typically a large beer is 15,000 Kip, a meal ranges from 25,,000 to 50,000 Kip and a pastry from the bakery to go with my afternoon coffee, costs 10,000 Kip.
So, with our pockets filled with notes totalling in the millions, we get out and about.
Coffee is not as good as a Cambodian brew, but we have had a couple of nice ones and will keep trying as many as we can. I am confident that if I try enough coffees at enough different cafes, based on the law of averages, I will eventually get a good one. Today's morning coffee was at a new coffee shop, with an iced Mocha order by Mrs Wombat and hot Lao coffee with fresh milk (not sweet milk) for me. We sat and watched the boats travel across the mighty Mekong River, not something you do every day.
Our host at the guest house is fantastic, it's the little things that are so nice, like when we arrive back to our room early in the afternoon after a morning out, there is a knock at the door shortly thereafter and there are 2 fresh pineapple juices for us. The guest house puts on a lovely breakfast each morning, there is endless tea and coffee, the rooms are made each day with fresh towels and are beautifully cleaned and presented, no wonder the guest house has a 2017 Trip Advisor award on the wall.
Each morning we are awoken by the gong from the temple right beside us, calling the Monks to prayer. 5am is a bit early to wake, so back to sleep for an hour or so. We are aware of a great deal of activity and chatter at the front of the guest house, as this is where the wet market is set up and it runs all along the road at the front and into adjoining lane ways. Fruit, veggies, fish, chicken and any other freshly killed meat are all just laid out on mats on each side of the road. It puts shopping at Coles in a whole other category!!
I take a wander, while Mrs Wombat curls up in her burrow for a little longer and I buy a hand of bananas and a dragon fruit or two. I then check out the enormous river fish, thinking how I would love to BBQ one of these and then I go for a wander up the road. It is quiet at this hour, I can walk along the road without getting run over, in fact there is hardly a vehicle. A toddler rides her trike up the road, people are heading to a boat to cross the river with produce, ladies are sweeping the foot paths in front of their homes and guest houses and the city slowly comes to life as it wakes up.
Today for a change, I have not had to fight off a dozen tuk tuk drivers, but I did decline two boat trips along the river, we will save that for another day.
Mrs Wombat has woken on my return and a cup of tea is calling, followed by breakfast.
Our day then follows a familiar routine; we head out for a walk after breakfast to explore a new area of town, somewhere along the way we find a place for a coffee, we don't rush, we occasionally have a chat with other tourists, where we compare stories and then we go on our way. Once it has become too hot and humid, we head back to our Guest House to chill out, either in the room or in the breakfast garden.
Sometimes in the afternoon I will make a dripped coffee, perhaps have a pastry and an afternoon chat with our host. Our host is from Vietnam and today after noticing my afternoon coffee ritual, he offers me a Vietnamese grown coffee blend to sample, very nice.
We eventually head out for the evening, slowly walking through the market and have some dinner at one of the many great restaurants on offer.
Our host is always there to greet us, morning, noon and night, we have been so spoilt at this guest house as we just feel so well looked after, it has been a wonderful stay.
Our mornings and afternoons now include a form of 'giving back', something we had been planning to do for some time. Mrs Wombat will talk about Big Brother Mouse in another chapter.