Well now that we are all back into real time and up to full speed with the blog, hopefully this means that when you guys ask questions on facebook we kinda remember what actually happened haha! (As a sidepoint tho we promise south east asia really isnt as fast paced as we make it sound, there is still plenty of time for strolling aimlessly along roadsides being harassed about this and that and all these different tourist site you apparently need to go to!
Because of this we may as well go through phrases your likely to hear in a few of the different locations we have travelled to so far.
Luang Prabang, Laos:
Mr Tuk Tuk: Tuk tuk tuk tuk tuk tuk tuk tuk tuk, tuk tuk waterfall? (they will also alternate with the word caves, just for good measure.)
Mrs Scary Local Food Lady: Booooiy, you want eat? (roughly translates to: you want to gamble with your life with some chicken i found defrosting on the roadside this morning?)
Hoi An, Vietnam:
Emma (look back to the Vietnam blog if you need an example of who this is): Sir, you need suit, you want look, no buy, just come in and emma will look after you (notice the use of talking about oneself in third person. If your looking for a trait map of her, think of a rather interesting combination of over the top gay designer, mixed with creepy cat lady that likes to throw things.)
Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam:
Scary, would-be-biker-if-my-scooter-did-over-30kph guy: Moto moto moto moto moto, Sir, you want motorbike? (to describe these bikes would require someone with a far more sound of bikes than myself, but just imagine the state of them after spending a lifetime in japan, then being shipped to a first world country for another life, then sent to vietnam, then some bright spark decideing that a kerosene blend didnt seem to make them spontaneously combust so must be good for it.
Phnom Penh, Cambodia:
Khmer Mr Tuk Tuk: Tuk tuk tuk tuk tuk tuk tuk tuk, you want killing fields? you want genocide museaum, killling fiielllds!!!!!! (yes aparently these are the only two tourist attractions worthy of being shouted to tourists hmmmmm.....)
So anyway, on with the show, and i believe we were up to the bus ride to phnom penh (not to worry, we had sufficient nightmares reminicent of our bus to luang prabang to reconsider, consider, send back, send forth, then buried under a tree for six months before finally deciding we were going to give the whole cheap bus experience another go.) Well, as with all our city changings we awoke bright eyed and bushy tailed at 6am, attempted to close the zippers once again (if you are ever planning on going overseas, just invest in a kathmandu bag, they are quite possibly the best investment you'll ever make...it is impossible to destroy the zips...so far.) Headed down to the ABC Bakery which also by chance sells New Zealand Natural Icecream (but not L & P, i asked almost everyone who worked in the store, thats 7 DIFFERENT people and they all had no idea what I was on grrr), got a few last minute supplies and jumped on the bus.
At this point there really was no words for just how amazing the bus was, we got free bottled mineral water, seats which both recline, and return to an upright position, and most importantly air con that worked! ahh this was the life, and I was more than happy to spend the next half day travelling to Phnom Penh (for those of you planning a trip this way, we used Kumho Samco Buslines). Not long before arriving at the border, our passports were taken for some unknown reason, and then asked for 25 USD to sort out the visas for us which were already firmly glued in... oh well had to fit in one last scam before we left the country. Went through customs at the border and got shot between the eyes with a laser...not really sure of the purpose there but looked like the customs guy was having fun.
Then it was back on the bus and rumbling our way towards our new home to the sound of Aqua, Backstreet Boys, and other one hit wonders from the 90's (yes singing along was involved much to the dislike of the others on the bus (a few australians joined in as well...somewhat ashamedly haha). Once we arrived and the tuk tuks were ready, full of fuel and ready to go, managed to get one to take us round a few places for $3 which ended up being pretty darned good, and we found a good place for $8 a night with private bathroom, twin beds and a window! (you'll notice the lack of a closing bathroom door once again, but that would just be being picky) It was on the third floor of a place with no lift (well get to regret that over the next few days about why we didnt settle for essentially an identical room on the first floor...once again we'll blame that stroke of genius on the heat) .
Then it was out into the city on foot, and we had a look around the area we were staying in and the first thing we noticed was how everything had changed since the last time we came here. (maybe it was just a case of seeing the city in a different light / from a different perspective) Things firstly seemed to be a lot more developed, and a clear attempt at building a real first world city was emerging. Like most developing cities in Asia, they all seemed to take their inspiration from the west being Las Vegas, and giant mega buildings like Nagaworld (we dont really have a western equivilent so you get to look that up for homework) and many more similar ones under construction. As far as cities go, this seems to be one which is really putting in the effort to become world class. But of course there is a downside to all this. The cheapest meal we have had so far is a $3 McDonalds immitation, with restaurants starting at around $4-6 for a decent meal and working their way up to a whopping $10 for my indian meal tonight (knew it was going to be expensive when I had to order rice seperately...and then specify which of the twelve types I wanted......oops.)
After getting our bearings we decided it was time for one of those laid back strolls along the riverfront, where we decided to take a break with a can of coke and some icecream, and just generally soak up the awesomeness that is being in Cambodia. As is fairly usual you get a few beggers coming up asking for money or food or both, and normally a generic no will send them on their merry way to the next tourist, but theres always one thats a tad more persistant.
This one guy seemed to take our bulk standard no fairly well but then just sort of stood their with his eyes kind of glazed over spotting an unprotected can of coke. Now why this can was unprotected is very simple. I had icecream, and there was no way on earth that anything was going to seperate me from my first icecream in weeks on a night thats over 30 degrees. Nothing. This may be why he just decided to pick the can up and then continue to look at us. At this point none of the three of us were quite sure who was most suprised, this guy with the fact he was now in posession of an ice cold coke...or us, still mid-swallow with icecream that this guy was holding my can. Nothing really changed from this point, and he sort of left when the fact that we were staring, saying such things as "dude, you cant be serious" - not quite sure how that would be understood in khmer, but no certainly wasnt getting across with him.
After feeling rather dumbstruck we made our way back the hotel to marinate overnight in our sweat (no air con here sadly), and the next day played out fairly plainly. Few things to note about changes in the past 14 months.:
Traffic lights now seem to be everywhere, and they are those cool, timed ones that give you a countdown until it turns green. Nothing cooler than having your tuk tuk rev next to 5 others in those final three seconds before you speed off at 15 kph as these poor bikes are now having to haul over 600kgs including the weight of the trailer, with no modifications to them except for a hinge on the back hooking you up! So all in all its been a fairly peaceful reintroduction to Cambodian culture, the people are still as friendly as always (though they do seem a little more westernised with bargaining, no longer is the case you pay 50% of what their starting price is and often the best you haggle for is a few cents, but that could all come down to a change in economics over the past year).
Thats actually probably the high points of the past couple of days, everything else has been more a case of trying to understand 3D maps and negotiating with tuk tuk drivers about a $4 charge to go to the shopping mall on the other side of town (we paid up...) but i guess thats mainly coz of our location essentially in the bottom right corner tucked behind nagaworld and the phnom penh post office.
Will update you all on our christmas tomorrow night!
Thats all folks!
(insert looney tunes theme song)