A Travellerspoint blog

Cambodia

Illegal taxi's, police escorts and losing my passport..

So the story starts where it always does Phnom Penh, Cambodia, much to nobody's surprise. The past few weeks have been chaotic, but rewarding.

Here's some statistics for the mathematically inclined on our past month in Phnom Penh:

Motorbike: 600km per week on average
Evading capture by police: 3 times
Caught by police: 1 time
Batoned by police: 1 time
Offered illicit drugs: 27 times
Offered boom-boom rooms: lost count
Paying bribes: 2 times
Fatal accidents witnessed: 3

In all honesty, it sounds worse than it was, the police beating didn't particularly hurt (only one bruise that's still here 3 weeks later), and bribes never exceeded $1.25!

So we start the story, once again at the place we both love, NFC. For the past month this place has been like a second home to us and we've felt totally welcome and met some awesome people - kids and staff. Focusing in particular on the computer class we've helped to create a curriculum and an interactive teaching style, something that has been both challenging and rewarding. The concept of interactive is near non-existent in Cambodian schools, as is common sense. Rote-learning is the standard..and so is paying off teachers and cheating in exams. But after 3 weeks all the kids went from thinking the mouse is something you eat, to being able to explain indentment, alignment, tables...and even apply it constructively to their own projects! So that has been totally rewarding, and so has seeing the teacher come alive with enthusiasm and really encourage the kids - it makes all the difference.

We notice that a lot of volunteers love to visit, to have photos with the kids and play games. The kids are great at both, and they've had a lot of practice. So we decided to do something different. Scouring the markets and streets of Phnom Penh, we created a couple of technology challenges. Building a 2m bridge to support 500 grams of weight rolled over the bridge, made simply out of paper, tape and 2 meters of string. With some creative thought and application, along with a male-female face-off, the girls won with a bridge that could support my weight (and no I haven't become "Asian size"). Another, dropping an egg from 5 meters in the air, supported by a basic contraption of their invention so the egg doesn't break, worked well - with 3 safe eggs used for the next meal, and the broken one fed to the dogs, or some kid outside?!

A movie night with baguettes filled with condensed milk (a Cambodian treat), and Cambodian jokes that get completely lost in translation have been awesome.
We have purchased and installed 5 new computers, doubling the size of the computer lab, and covered the rent of the organisation for a month (3 buildings, on 2700sqm). We've made some cool friends, who of course have facebook and gmail too. But NFC really does give the kids a real future. The kids all have aspirations of their own, and families to support back home - their motivation and resolve is huge and I'm sure they will be participants in transforming Cambodia for the better.

Twas an emotional break-up, sort of like a funeral, but not. And it felt like my birthday with awesome gifts the kids had made. I'm sure I will return, as persists my obsession with Cambodia (surprise, surprise)

So, the rest of Cambodia was interesting, and in Cambodia there's never a dull moment. Chris left to Thailand on the 22nd, and I stayed on until the 27th, which involved getting a visa extension and bribing by way to the front of the 2hr visa queue, and then getting caught by cops on the way home "No license Kampuchea", so after being asked how much I wanted to pay ($1) and being told it was less than what he and the other 10 cops wanted me to pay ($5, or .50c each), me pulling out my cellphone and him settling for 5000reils ($1.25), and I could proceeds once again without my Kampuchea license, to the Myanmar embassy to collect my passport. On arrival there was a "noh possibow", and 'passport gone'..."Good to know", "Can you find it please". To most government workers at 5pm on a Friday afternoon this would be slightly annoying, but they get "overtime", so all was good. Two hours passed which involved me having to salute the Myanmar Ambassador to Cambodia, whilst waiting for the fat visa lady to come back from what quite probably was the longest lunch ever, I got my passport back, visa and all. With a moto-ride with an off-duty policeman back to the apartment.

The 27th rolled around with a 6am, and 12 hour bus-ride from Phnom Penh to Bangkok which involved crossing at the infamous Poipet border (Poipet town is also a hole, and is a Khmer Rouge hideout, for those who haven't heard of Khmer Rouge, google 'Genocide') , me using offensive Khmer words to persistent touts, all the while fire was exchanged between Thai and Cambodian troops 100km north at Preah Vihear temple on the border. An illegal taxi in Bangkok who didn't have a clue how to drive, have any directional sense, speak a word of english...oh I lie, he did speak english, throwing in "falang" (foreigner), and "Son of a b..." in the same sentence, before finally discovering heaven (it's called All Seasons Hotel Huamark), and finding Chris, after paying a shouting taxi driver lass than he wanted.

So I guess you can tell, I am more or less obsessed about Cambodia, so prepare yourself for my return, and buy some airplugs - I'm back on the 4th!
The Union of Myanmar, should be interesting, tune in to hear the latest!

Ciao,
Carl

Posted by carl.adams 22:15 Archived in Cambodia Comments (0)

Hamiltron - City of the future since 1896

As you can probably guess from a rather unrelated title (it's just something I pondered as we hurtled towards NFC this morning at 70kph - thats 3x time speed limit for those of you with multiplication and division charts) I'm rather tired to be thinking up witty titles, so your stuck with leftovers from today. In order to stave off the people attempting to claim my life insurance at the moment, I guess that now would be a good time to write another installment into the old blog. Ill even try to refrain to boring you all to sleep. So tonight's feature presentation revolves around a little area called Boeung Kak Lake, which youve heard me mention around these parts quite a bit, but as it is now a regular part of our days travels and adventures, I figure we can let you in on a few secrets.

Firstly, if you do by chance happen to do drugs (kids dont do it - they make you spontaneously combust during the night, and not only that but you will have Jim Hickey, John Campbell, and half the cast of Shortland Street stalking you for the rest of your life) then BK (note the abbreviation - its Boeung Kak, for those, like the person who is sitting next to me, haven't quite got to joining the dots yet), is inevitably your homeland. In fact im pretty sure that there hasn't actually been a time after 6pm that we have walked around the area that we havent been offered your favourite variation of ice, weed, or cocaine, and for those adventurous types a happy mix of all three. Now mix that in with the tuk-tuk drivers who now no longer offer Genocide Museums and Killing Fields but will more than happily, in fact they really do insist on taking you out to a local boom boom house (For those born in the 90's the song "Boom boom boom boom, I want you in my room, We'll spend the night together, for now and then forever" - your pretty much spot on with the concept). And in fact for anyone from World Vision here, you may wish to avert your eyes but underage boom boom houses are also widely advertised - and who in their cocaine-infused mind would disagree with the tuk-tuk drivers determined to make a buck!

We also now have a local Indian place there who pretty much treat us like deities and for around $3 each you can pretty much eat till you explode (though i dont really reccomend that option - instad go for the masala. v v v good). And around this area we also have many, many so called travel agents. Now these people, well, im not entirely too sure what they do. If you by chance happen to want to fly to Bangkok from here you would go and see these people who would be sitting at a desk in their office with some pad and a cellphone, they'll write down your request and then give someone a call who has internet access who will then call back in 10 minutes when they find something (to save on cellphone credit) who will then give the information, your newest travel agent friend (who by now is trying to convince you to book another flight back home with another airline because "oowee your airline very bad") will then relay the information and call back to say your interested and will then try and organise a mutually benificial price that is likely to be around 150% of what you could easily buy on the internet.

Needless to say we are finding alternate means to Bangkok, regardless of what roads we have to travel on and which countries may or may not be fighting at the border (for those who have requested some shrapnel from the Thai/Khmer conflict going on at the moment, ill do my best, but travel insurance will only cover me so far (not that thats stopped me before hahahahaha).

But in all honesty the lake area is very small, and in fact is becoming increasingly small - as I think I have mentioned to you all before they are filling in the lake now with sand and other bits and pieces they can find. For anyone who has taken geography and learnt that you just really shouldn't be going and taking megatons of sand from beaches and river inlets, they could do with your help up here telling them that but i'm sure they'll work that out in 20 years when Sihanoukville disappears (6th form Geo teacher would be so proud of me right now). This has basically meant that there is a slow movement of guesthouses transferring to the riverfront (tho there are still around 20 guesthouses by the lake) more recently but with any luck they'll make something of the area thats going to be filled in and bring the tourists back to the area (at the moment its a sort of seedy backpacker paradise).

Now there are a few other 'in brief' points that you may mind interesting but we just seem to find fairly run of the mill nowadays (not even joking here!). Elephants. Turns out they are as much of a tourist drawcard here as in the rest of Asia, but without those pesky animal rights people who will stop you from doing things like taking elephants into restaurants and for strolls down the main streets of the city. Often you'll find the pair of them meandering around Wat Phnom with a pair of 50+ XXL sized guys (who im sure if you asked would say they are ahem "life partners" to be PC) giggling like school girls about how they're on an elephant taking photo's of themselves throwing their weight around poor ele (I've become rather attached to elephants as you can tell, and as soon as Uncle Key says I can have one as a pet back home, theyll be on the next plane).

And to finish off with a few more brief notes from NFC (for those who havent kept up, this is the orphanage), the kids are coming along amazingly well and some of them have just sat their first computer studies exam (that admittedly was written rather hastily but oh well) and have made massive leaps and bounds, and the teacher who we are training as well is making even bigger steps forward and quite probably doing better than many of our own teachers back in NZ, so we'll see how he goes as we take the reigns off over the next couple of weeks. Also the library is coming along well, unfortunately with the classes and everything we havent been able to give as much time as we would have liked to it, but there are another couple of volunteers who are helping out (and are pretty much going for gold on it) and thats coming along really well (now we have found some decent wood to use as shelves). But thats it from the NFC front, oh and we are doing a few BP Technology challenges with them tomorrow (kids you'll remember these) and were actually not sure who is more excited, us or them!

Thats all folks!

Oooh except for the fact I am now in posession of a Myanmar visa...aint I fancy eh?

Posted by carl.adams 08:32 Archived in Cambodia Comments (0)

Drunken rampages through Russian mafia territory..

Woah there easy daisy! Now before you all go and sit in shock and awe for a few hours after reading this blog, we need to make a small apology with the lack of updates this past week, and for your information neither of us was the Australian guy that got killed in Sihanoukville in the past week (for one we're not Australian, but since when has that stopped a panic attack haha!) So this will be one of those nice elongated blogs that you get to sit down with your cup of tea and scones and generally splutter your way through, however, we get to the orphanages tomorrow and promise to be on our best behaviour from then...maybe....this is quite a bit of fun!

Anywho, for those of you with a short attention span and all, i'll try to write this somewhat like a news article, putting in all the juicy bits at the start and leaving those boring reassuring things till the end when most of you will either have choked to death on your scone (don't say we didn't warn you) or have walked off in disbelief..ahh feel much better now so lets get on with New Years Eve (well fill in the blanks with the rest of our time down there afterwards).

Anywhoodle our plans for new years eve started off somewhat early with us booking accomodation in the city around 4 nights beforehand in order to make sure we were 'right there' amongst all the action and general goings-on, so we found another place that seemed to have a fair amount of patronage much like our place in Saigon, with a door that we didn't even use the key for once; it was actually easier to break and enter than go through the hassle of finding the key...so much for double locks eh?

But, nightime soon rolled around and we had dinner at an Aussie place involving crazy amounts of western food and drink, torturing some of the bar staff (if you ever get the chance, when speaking to someone who doesn't speak English particularly well, try to create a subplot within the conversation, our one involved one of our ten pet elephants contracting cancer and dying, leaving me almost teary-eyed and the poor girl not entirely sure what was going on). This is where we became a bit lost (for the first of many times that evening) with the signs around the bar saying things like "our girls are hostess only" and "no exceptions" but being rather lassez faire about the whole event at the time we thought nothing of it, remaining blissfully unaware of the night to come.

So our first stop on the trip was a bar called Utopia (the trip there did involve another insane motorbike ride with missing foot-pedals and near collisions with government vehicles (that's probably the worst thing you could do - like you could get drunk, have some herbs, shoot up a bar, and then take home a series of underage girls here and your punishment wouldn't even come close to you giving a govt car a bit of a nudge) and we got there, had a bit of a look around before deciding that the clientele were not quite the party animals we are (and the bar staff seemed to be spending more time on the tables drinking themselves than serving anyone - you can work as a westerner in a bar on new years, you don't get paid but the alcohol is free flowing and you can pretty much drink yourself into a coma)

Now what we are going to do here for a second is to introduce a third character to the story, for the adults out there, feel free to think of this character as possibly ONE of us(I've been told to remove the phrase "possibly one of us" but this is way too much fun, and i'll keep referring to this phase so when certain re-editing takes place it'll become rather obvious...hahahaha), and for the kids out there and the kids at heart, lets just think of think of this little critter as a pixie we found in our travels and aptly called him Fred, who the story will largely centre around tonight. (The person in this story who isn't a light-headed, naughty little pixie, had a rather subdued and sober night, allowing him to recall all of the nights events in much detail, much to the disdain of Mr Pixie, who we all know now as Fred.)

OK, so off we wandered down to the beach, seeing everybody get into the spirit of New Years with police throwing tom-thumbs and other fireworks long banned in New Zealand, but you will be pleased to know that New Zealand isn't "ahead of the curve" with regards to generally acting like dorks around fireworks, in fact the Australian barman at dinner recounted seeing police officers lighting tom-thumbs and throwing them down each other's pants...so that gives you an idea of how serious these guys are usually.

Then as you get down to the beach, the fireworks are already going off with people sending "skyrockets" into the air off the beach, and not just one or two, but there was a constant stream heading up into the air, with often over 100 going off at any one time. Now, just a quick word on safety here (and it will be quick as it really is non existent here) but kids, pointing skyrockets at each other is not something that we recommend, and nor is holding fireworks that are currently going off, and now, with a clean conscience we can continue.

So the area where everything happened is on the mean beach of Sihanoukville (called Occhuateal...or something similar) and the beach was literally full with makeshift bars, often created or 'sponsored' by bars up on the main street (ie they basically moved to the sand for the night). The first bar down on the sand we hit up was all very pleasant and everything and in fact was where we met our pixie friend Fred (who may or may not be one of us). So after collecting our free shots on the waters edge and being scared stiff by all these kids holding skyrockets and aiming them for trees, buildings, or other people etc we high tailed it indoors (to the outdoor, makeshift bar) and found the dance-floor. This is where we met our first of many 'friends' of the night, and for the people who are regularly on facebook and have seen our status updates this is the time to recall one that says "Sihanoukville makes our brothel in Saigon look like sunday school". At this point we started becoming slightly aware of the going's-on down here as girls aged (apparently) anywhere from 25-45 essentially threw themselves at any foreigner they saw, and made a certain person in this story head to the bar (or at least join the 20 min queue to get to it) and is where he left the evening and our pixie friend called Fred enters the story, stage left.

Upon returning mid dance holding what is called a "Mekong bucket" (don't bother googling it, we tried to find out exactly what was in it these past few days, and its now just assumed that its whatever either the barman thinks looks nice, mixed with whatever the barman thinks looks strong, thrown in a 1.5 litre coke bottle and handed back all for the rather handsome price of $2). Now a quick word on this bottle, they had cut the very top of this bottle off, not really to limit the amount you could get from one 'bucket' but to essentially speed up the inevitable process and allowing you to drink as much as possible as quick as possible (or to possibly aid in sharing, they gave each bucket around 10 straws) now normally, for most people this would be shared around an equal amount of people with a straw to person ratio of 1:1, and thus ten straws, should in theory mean 10 people at the ends of them. But this was not the case for our friend Fred, who apart from sharing one small sip with one of his new local 'friends' (re-read the "Sihanouville makes our brothel in Saigon look like sunday school" quote whenever we introduce the word friend in this blog) he was rather enjoying his own personal bucket, which while making him less useful as a pixie, will aid in explaining the title of the blog very soon.

After making small talk with all of his new friends (you could only really spend around 5 minutes with each one before they wanted some sort of commitment from you), it was decided that Fred needed some air and so we headed off down the beach. Now a small fun fact for all of you out there that what we thought was actually just a local mafia with not much power behind them was in fact a rather large Russian mafia, and happened to own quite a bit of land in and around town (in fact one of their popular umm for lack of a better term "capture points" was located on the road that we had been told not to drive on at night, that we already had. Twice, before finding this out). SO, off we wandered down the beach, and Fred began trampled a rather large sign that had fallen down off a building (who would have thought these signs couldn't hold an 80kg pixie before their metal buckling - apparently not Fred)...and then our dear pixie friend picked a route to the other side of the beach that involved walking through numerous fireworks and wouldn't have required much work from the locals to aim for him...but needless to say we corrected his path, and as far as we know, Fred doesn't have any firework burns from that night.

But, eventually we did find a nice bar sponsored by Monkey Republic (one of the nicer bars in town) and set ourselves up for the evening, where Fred continued to crank out his singing ability, along with moves that a cross-bred robot/jelly hybrid would have thought were jaw-dropping Now in order to play nice, we are going to simply blur over the rest of the night, needless to say good fun was had by all, Fred went off on his merry way. So that was new years eve for us, and 2010 came with a hiss and a roar and we are back in Phnom Penh again, back in the relative safety of our guesthouse.

But a few extra points. Firstly there is the reasoning behind why we changed hotels, well the ants didn't stop. And as nice as the beachfront is, after 4 days of non stop biting from the red fire ants, there really isn't any way for it to redeem itself as hard as we did try. We also found out a few little things about Cambodia and its people that we will try to spoon feed you over the next few weeks as well as more random goings on that we haven't mentioned in the blog so far, as believe it or not we are pretty much half way there...eeeshkkaaa! SO the next little update that we do will involve some info about the orphanage we are at, might try and get a few kids to write some stuff I can throw up here for you guys to all read, as well as more updates...and the usual random ramblings from us hehe!

Anywho off for dinner time!
Hello to my Mummy and Daddy back in New Zealand - hope you had a great New Year (yes I still call them that...so sue me haha..and no way could I forget...and now its all public with over 300 people reading each individual blog so i'm thinking extra points for that should be in order)

That's all folks!

C :)

Posted by carl.adams 01:43 Archived in Cambodia Tagged backpacking Comments (2)

The Itchy and Scratchy Show!

Righty Ho,

Well this is day three in Sihanoukville and so far we have managed to do as little as possible, so hopefully this blog wont be too long and then with all best intentions, we'll try and update you all on New Years Eve and then once we get back to Phnom Penh so a bit of housekeeping, but lets go through how our last couple of days have panned out and how karma has got its vengeance once again after gloating how amazing everything was a couple of days ago.

Turns out there are a lot of mosquitoes here, or sand-flies, or potentially even fire ants out on some vindictive mission to take over the world, or just generally unleash their full five star pain. And now I know that some people use fancy numbers with lots of zeroes on the end in order to emphasize their point (for example I would choose to say that I have over 300 bites on myself currently), but being as pedantic as I am, I know for a fact that as i was rubbing tiger balm into my skin an hour ago, the real total was 314 and I think that sounds far more painful than 300 any day. So, turning back our clock to a couple of days ago (yes time travel will be required for yet another blog) we were off to have coconuts and watch the sunset on the beach with a perfect view.

This all started off fairly well and we found a nice place right down the other end of the beach for dinner only very slightly off put but the fact the woman who was running the restaurant had one of those electric fly torture contraptions that look just like a tennis racquet, and inflict no less pain when you come into high speed contact with it (i would know). Now back home these things would be used to chase a singular fly around the room by some person hell bent on killing this one little guy. Here the story is slightly different, she would simply wave the racquet around the hammock she was lying in and the thing zapped about 56 (note the use of non-zero numbers) times in one swoop with an equal number of insects dropping to the ground. All in all over the hour or so we were there, probably close to 1112 insects perished on that evening, and wouldn't be returning for dinner the next night. Now we weren't phased by this, not one bit as we strolled back to our bungalow in the sand admiring how quiet everything was.

The next morning was rather a different story as it turned out not only were these little critters not affected by the insect repellent (DEET) (and yes I know I've told you all this before but this is a separate occasion from the last blog - so i'm not completely loosing my mind) but they actually seemed to feed off of it which took my total amount of current bites up to the whopping 312 that we were talking about earlier in the piece, and making me finally decide that I was going to need something to take away that itch after a night sleeping in a hot, humid bed that was full of sand and ants that made their pilgrimage to the other side of the room.

Right, so now I've covered just how many insect bites I am covered in (why its just us two I'm not sure, but even the locals are looking as us a bit weird as if we have caught some sort of new strain of ant flu (now how cool would that be) and almost hesitant to serve us. Now its on to the other small bit of news we have which would be the red scooter that's staring us in the face at the moment. This is our newest temporary addition to the family and will be with us for the next couple of days, allowing us to get from our beach to town and back again relatively cheaply and to any other places we want to go.

Now in booking one of these little guys, you surrender your passport which you get back on its safe return, and just generally hope that leaving a motorcycle outside your bungalow is safe enough (otherwise its a small 2,000USD fee to replace it, as insurance hasn't quite got this far across the pacific yet) so after paying our $6 per day and heading off, we soon realised that we had been doing a steady 0/kph for quite a while now, and also that according to our odometer we had traveled less than a kilometre. Now anywhere in the west this would almost certainly be a cause for concern (especially given that we had been given one helmet to share between us - we figured that if we ever needed it in a crash we would simply split it haha....) but here in Cambodia this is simply the norm and we continued on our merry way. In all honesty though, it would be a death-wish to exceed 30kph on Cambodian roads, so it's pretty safe we figure!

Then there's the small issue of the road with the giant potholes, and you soon have even more respect for those motorbike taxi drivers with how they navigate over them (you can probably tell we have been rather unsuccessful with that so far) but apart from that its all been a rather pleasant relationship thus far.

So that's pretty much been the latest new bits in our journey, we headed down to the local movie place this morning and got a private lounge for $4 which was rather cool to watch movies in, and then this afternoon has resulted in us applying tiger-balm and lazing around (man that stuff heats up!) and thus we are back in the same internet cafe licking our wounds (not actually, tiger-balm knows how to cause discomfort around the eyes, and if anyone EVER suggests using it for sunburn, they deserve a public execution).
Anywho will catch up again in another couple of days!

Ciao, and long live the little red scooter!

Posted by carl.adams 01:54 Archived in Cambodia Tagged backpacking Comments (1)

Christmas at Lucky Burger and Coconut Sunsets

So before we set off on another wild adventure, Ive decided to dedicate this blog to all those people back in NZ, generally acting like beached whales and having ham and pavlova on Christmas day. We will hunt you down, and are expecting our portion on the 4th of feb, no matter how moldy, rotten or bad it smells. Or Else.
And with today's threat out of the way, lets continue on with how our Christmas panned out and first impressions of Sihanoukville, Cambodia's beach resort town. We left off late on Christmas eve, when Santa was still hitting the snooze button on the alarm clock, somewhat doom and gloomy about what our Christmas day was going to involve exactly.

Anyway, so we woke up on Christmas morning and generally decided today was going to be one of our less productive days, choosing to instead of getting out and about and generally enjoying Christmas, sulk in the hotel room watching Mythbusters blow things up (hows that for a mega guilt trip?) But the calls back home to all the family somewhat committed us to actually making something of the day and so we headed out into the city once again to find something semi-Christmassy. Now here is probably a good time to point out exactly how Christmas is celebrated in Cambodia. In many ways its a lot like New Zealand with music belting out from any speaker that worked, and the idea of Christmas trees covered in tinsel wasn't lost on anyone, with most shops having at least one small tree at least hiding in the corner next to Buddha (who probably wasn't entirely sure what this supposedly buddhist country was doing, but he seemed to let this one slide). After putting in a reasonable amount of effort looking for a 'real' Christmas meal, it was decided upon that we weren't going to find anything under the $70 mark, which in NZ might be ok, but over here where most meals cost between 3-4, even Santa would have a hard time justifying that to the accountants. And so we settled on a place called 'Lucky Burger', which would be the local equivalent of just about any fast food place in New Zealand (it had pizza, burgers, fried chicken, and sandwiches so they were pretty much sorted with regards to flooding the market). And so, we sat down to our Christmas luncheon, with the only thing really coming close to christmas being one of those awesome deep fried apple pies that you find at Mc Donalds in New Zealand....then it was to making more calls to home, packing up our bits to head to Sihanoukville the next day, and then just generally sulking about Christmas back home (note the continued guilt trip). Next we had to decided on dinner, and not wanting to repeat the price tag of the night before at a certain indian place, it was decided that a local Vietnamese place would do the job, and with our waiter who had an overbite that made him look like a distant camel relative, we signed off from Christmas day and prepared for our bus trip down to Sihanoukville the next day.

Once again, somewhat predictably it was up at 6am for our minibus to pick us up at 7am (this point was emphasized specifically to us when we bought the last two tickets on the bus a few days prior). By 7:20 we were starting to get a bit worried about the whole experience given that our bus left the middle of town at 7:45 and we were still get to see any sign of our minibus. 5 phone calls later, and after being hung up on 4 times (think we scared them with speaking english) it was concluded that the minibus was on its way to pick us up sometime in the near future. It all worked out in the end however, and we arrived down in Sihanoukville 5 hours later for what would be a rather odd experience.

Down here is somewhat expat territory (similar to how Bali is now basically an Australian state) and so the moment we got off the bus, not only did we have 40 tuk tuk, moto and taxi drivers but we now had another 20 expats throwing various flyers at us for different hostels and nightclubs, and after a considerable amount of haggling we decided that we would be catching motorbikes with our now 20kg backpacks around 20km out of town to an isolated little beach called Otheros. Now when we say isolated we mean that completely literally unlike NZ where we gloat about how isolated areas like Piha and Waiheke are, this place was pretty much 8km west of the middle of nowhere, then down a dirt path, turn left at the anorexic cows, and head down another track for 5km and that's where this beach called Otheros lies.

We eventually found a nice little bungalow that was 5m from the water and on some pretty decent sand with hammocks, with the only problem being that there was only power after 4pm when the generator was switched on, and even then you got the rather impossible choice of whether you wanted to use the fan, or the light (the 12V battery outside wasn't capable of much more than that....not that it mattered come nightfall anyway, the main generator for the area broke down which meant what was a nice isolated middle of nowhere place, was now a nice, dark middle of nowhere place with mosquitoes that have actually developed a taste for DEET (industrial grade insect repellent).

So apart from eating lots of REALLY western food over the past 2 days including Weetbix this morning and lazing around in the sand there's not all that much to do in Otheros, and in fact we had to come back into the main part of town just to be able to write this blog! (no internet in our beach at all) But there is a possibility of hiring a couple of kayaks tomorrow and going and seeing a couple of the nearby islands, and the expats down here are really awesome, people who have that sorta persona that there actually is nothing bigger than the beach they live on and their life revolves around the sand and the surf....very cool people regardless, where we also learnt a few things about owning a business down here including how to pay tax for everything (yes there are some things you cant escape) but when you own a business down here its set at a rate of $10 per month payable in cash whenever the police guy turns up, and the fact you can only own land if your a local, AND you have worked for the government (nice little self preservation act the govt has going for them).

Anywho wont hog the the computers for any more,
Off to drink another whole coconut on the beach (take that all you Takapuna people :P),

C :)

Posted by carl.adams 20:55 Archived in Cambodia Comments (0)

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