A Travellerspoint blog

Eeskha the bike's tyre is in flames!

Ahh yes, there arent too many moments in a young mans life similar to being in the middle of nowhere with a burst bike tyre, and watching the locals take to the rubber armed with blowtorches and hand applying superglue (it even included one of those fancy warnings about making sure that you dont make contact with the glue for any reason). Unfortunately for us however this was not the green goblin (thats what we named our latest motorbike if your keeping up to date) that had decided to throw a tantrum, but in fact was one of its most primitive ancestors that didnt have an engine, and had a seat that had essentially been carved out of the highest quality Dead Sea sandpaper available. Now theres quite a story working up to this so we'll let you in on a few other thinks first before spontaneously climaxing (I've been told not to refer to Saigon at this point) with our little bicycle adventure.

So todays little blog is sponsored by both the Green Goblin, and the letter G (for you sesame street fans).Police over here, are somewhat amusing both by how official they can look (think Mr Plod from Noddy, but in puke green) and then watching them try and harness the power of a scooter while talking on the phone, minus a helmet of course. Setting an awe inspiring example for the locals and makes me sure that the next english phrase to be transliterated into khmai will be "do as I say, not as I do." Now our next little piece of wisdom comes from none other than Chris at NFC explaining how taxes work over here. Now Ive told you before about the $10 tax for foreign business and so on, but everyone seems to take things into their own hands with regards to making a buck. In the west we would call it something like corruption, but over here it works like a very effective tax system. IN NZ for example you pay your taxes, they go to the Government, which then pays for the police, with all the departments taking their cuts along the way. In Cambodia things run a bit differently and a bit more simply. Police go out and collect money from whomever, they take their cut, and then pass the surplus onto the next person up the chain slowly working its way up to the top of the food chain where the big boss guy will see less than 50 riel from your $1.25 fine for having your lights on during the day.

So to put this all into context, you can imagine us racing down Monivong Boulivard at 50kph under the assumption that we were bullet proof, at least 50% of us were wearing helmets (the now legal minimum) and our lights werent on during the day, so as far as we knew we were bullet proof to the law. Rather enjoying this newfound freedom with all 100cc to lug close to 200kgs in total around the city, we decided to test the limits a bit. Nothing too major, just small things like driving down the wrong side of the road to get to a shop, driving on the occasional footpath etc etc until we got to a red light. Now over here traffic lights are at best an advisory, and in fact will often send two lines of traffic into head on collisions with each other(your supposed to weave your way through the opposing traffic). So when the light turns red and informs us we have 72 seconds to wait, we arent all too thrilled about the idea and try yet another trick of hiding in the turning traffic until the last moment then diving off to the direction we wanted.Well. Either Mr Plod needed to feed his family, or the day was just dragging a bit too much for him, but he was not a happy chappy (he actually was, in fact he rather cheerfully waddled out into the road and put his hand up (im assuming he wanted us to stop). However the one thing we have been taught by local barang is that you never stop for police. Ever. They just arent the sorta people you can sweet talk your way out of a $1.50 fine and are usually pretty determined about that sort of thing, so in order to save your wallet, if the police wave you down, give them a sympathtic decelleration and then hit those 100cc's with as much gas as they can handle and get out of there. And so, Mr plod shuffled his way back to his sidewalk.

Right then so on with our bicycle story. Admittedly I can be rather complacent with regards to riding a bike. Honestly I dont know where to start with the bike I rode. The fact that the gear cable was hanging off the handle bar (and in no way attached to anything), or the fact I had almost one half of one brake available for use. Shock absorbers weren't quite invented when the dinosaurs carved this piece of artwork, but as i mentioned before, sandpaper clearly had been.Now I think me describing the roads in Phnom Penh as the person in control of both a motorcycle and bicycle to you isn't possible (similar to the terms khmai use in bargaining with barang.."no'h possibow) I could try and whinge all night but you still wouldnt quite get it. Traffic travels in all directions imaginable, and some that arent. However one thing im willing to emphasise is the potholes. In fact it would be easier to talk about how much pavement there was as comparatively it was tiny to the amount of potholes. Rather impressive actually. Now you can possibly understand that I was slightly less than dissapointed when I blew one of my tyres (not that I noticed - plastic bags popping sound rather similar?!) - and then proceeded to drive on it for another kilometre. This meant that we got to spend 30 minutes at a rather charming little village (I fell in love with the place when the repair guy started looking like he couldnt do anything and we might have to go back). But somehow he managed to find enough excess rubber around the village to melt it together and create a patch for the tyre, which I especially found rather impressive considering that he was normally the town hairdresser.

Meanwhile we took the opportunity to play santa with the kids at the school, and we headed over to give out stickers (in the process, starting world war 3). So in all, we headed out over a bridge into what we would consider the wop-wops, the middle of nowhere, Timbuktu, or Hamilton. Nice change of pace.

All in all though it was good fun, and the fact I survived biking here is no small miracle and one I will definately remember forever (Remember Chris' whinging included - but cest la vie (also a song I have played waay to much in the past 2 weeks).

Thats all Folks!

C :)

Posted by carl.adams 18:19 Comments (0)

Happy Genocide Day! Whos up for Winking Murder?

Now for those of you in the audience tonight who haven't heard of penguin logic, a quick lesson (those who have, feel free to skip ahead). Penguin logic derives from the logic that a penguin is black and white and (when this saying was invented) TV's are black and white, and therefore a penguin is a TV. Now this all gets rather interesting and we use this concept a lot in this blog so feel free to keep an eye out for it. Firstly (just so we don't leaving you hanging) we must talk about the tuk tuk/moto drivers over here. Since we have a new motorbike (herein referred to as the green goblin (yes that is a sci fi reference you Spiderman fans) one would think that we would therefore no longer require the services of these fine men (as yet haven't found a female tuk tuk/moto driver (just an interesting observation). But they seem to disagree, for example we can be racing down Monivong Blvd on the green goblin (I have used hyperbole for the word racing, the green goblin would be more fitting of a term like hopping/spontaneously combust than racing but anyway) and we can be shouted at from across the street asking whether we want a tuk tuk (and I don't think it was just being condescending and this will happen maybe 10 times on a 30 minute drive). But penguin logic isn't only limited to them as you'll find out as we go along.

So from what I remember, we were heading back to a place called Bassac Guesthouse last time I spoke to you, but that relationship all turned very sour when they tried to charge us extra for hot water and say we couldn't bring our own fan back in (we had a light bulb in our head go on when walking through central market to buy a 2nd fan as the first one sounded like it was snoring at night. So anyhow, after meeting with Chris from NFC (we will explain the acronym shortly) he was able to help us find an apartment for $130 per month which is incredibly good value, keeping the accountants happy at less than $5 per night (with air con if we want it – we pay for our own electricity), and is run by the most awesome Khmer family, though the building is apparently owned by the German Development something, or at least that's what it says on our contract. Geographically speaking we are now living in the north of Phnom Penh (above Wat Phnom) and pretty close to the lake (that's now being slowly filled in with sand (big heart wrenching stories there, but you'll have to Google it so I can save on words – see I told you I was going to try and cut down). This does mean however that we are still very close to the backpacker food places which is great on a small budget, and should mean that the diahorrea tablets can stay firmly locked away in our bags (not that that's really worked – and not that you really needed to know that ha-ha).

Right y-all NFC, stands for New Future for Children and has pretty much been the redeeming feature of Phnom Penh so far. I mean we do love the city and all, but only seeing the poverty and uneducated side of things doesn't leave much room for a good impression no matter how hard you try. Chris and the team at NFC (he's the only Barang there same as Falang was in Laos – foreigner) are so passionate about all of these kids succeeding in building themselves, not to be able to just fit into local society once they leave but to be able to lead it, and actually have the means to give back to those around them. Especially at a time in Cambodia when rote learning and do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do is the norm, its great to see kids with a fresh outlook, and that really does come down to Chris and the team at the orphanage. Now intentionally we aren't gonna name any of the kids in the blog, just to keep their privacy and all, but essentially they are all as amazing as each other, all quirky in their own kinda way and for all the teachers/parents out there, we have the same sorta warm fuzzy feeling inside when they grab our hands when we see them each day (some melodramatic piano piece would be great here if you have some).

Now today is Victory Over Genocide Day up here (still not sure what we are supposed to say to everyone, "Happy Genocide Day" seems a bit odd, and with the 35 degree heat we are too lazy for "Happy Victory Over Genocide Day!") so we headed down to NFC to play a few games with the kids, but first a bit of background. Lucky Mart (our local supermarkets) all for some reason decided to close a day early for todays celebrations (Penguin Logic) which meant we couldnt get all the things we wanted for today in advance and left us racing round at the last minute to pull something together. So after gathering a few straws, cornflour, water and tape(yes I did the science experiment where you make an explosive out of those 4 things too, but they werent used for the same game) we headed down on the green goblin, gear changes and all. Games like winking murder (yes we get that you may be crying bad taste and all but this was probs one of the kids favourite games) and then we headed to the big event the straw challenge.

For anyone who has ever taken peer support or done a BP Technology Challenge, you wont find this original in the slightest, but we were all rather proud of ourselves coming up the idea, and you not taking that away from us. So the version we did was to get the kids to build the tallest possible tower with 250 straws and tape (yes I know the official rules call for pins but for anyone who has given a packet of pins to a 5 year old and said have fun, you'll know where we are coming from when we decided to go with tape). With the kids working together amazingly well, we were able to pretty much be completely hands off with the instructional side of how to do things (like build a tower – no penguin logic here) and the kids had towers over 2m within the hour, freestanding wasn't quite as high on their lists as using all the straws and ideas like top heavy are still to come in their teachings (they did however comply with cambodian building standards) - the kids loved it, didn't feel the need for judging, scores, math's that require calculators and a big trophy saying winner on it, they were simply ecstatic with their achievements and loved counting down the seconds that they have left – kiwi schools take note, these kids know how to revel in achievements and they don't need shiny certificates!

So thats all the latest goss from the Cambodian corner, 28 days till we are back in Kiwiland this thing is all going insanely quick for us.

And just for a slight change of pace, to take us out lets have the classic Thomas the Tank Engine theme – just for an educational twist.

C :)

Posted by carl.adams 07:18 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)

(Entries 6 - 10 of 21) « Page 1 [2] 3 4 5 »