Saturday, January 31, 2009

Cambodia

Sorry for the lack of updates - been a very busy first week and a half - and having an amazing time!


Jan 22

Just arrived in town and decided to go out exploring. It seems like there is a massage place on every corner, some very nice like a spa and other...well, I don't think I will be visiting them. I walk around the town and explore, and decide to grab a drink on the main strip of restaurants and bars. I quickly meet an Australian and some of his local Cambodian friends, hanging out and shooting pool...with us running the table. Next thing I know, one of the "girls" starts talking to me...and I am quickly told by the Aussie that it is a lady-boy! The first of many I have seen on the trip, but I have to tell you, no one could have guessed that "she" was a boy. Really did look like a girl...weird.


Jan 23

I wake up to pounding on my Guesthouse door, only to realize I have overslept my morning moto ride around the temples (I guess a little bit of jet lag had set in). I quickly get ready, the bathroom wreaks so I rush on out of there. I paid the driver $10 for a day of taking me around to all of the temples. I start off at Ankor Wat, which is the largest and most impressive of the temples. You really have to see it to believe the scope of it, absolutely huge and very detailed. I believe it took 25,000 people 37 years to build it (this needs to be verified). The details on the walls which were chiseled and totally perfect 800-900 years later is amazing.

We jump on the dusty and heavily polluted roads to continue our adventure, and arrive at Bayon/Ankor Thom after a very good Thai lunch (gosh - I really love Thai food)! This temple is not as big, but still very majestic with huge faces.

Next I visit Ta Prohm, and really like it. It is like I was in an Indiana Jones movie with the jungle literally growing up through the temple (they have decided to let it grow wild). It is so cool and I really like it. I then hiked up a mountain to Phnom Bakheng to watch the sun set over the temples, fun but slightly overrated and touristy.

I then set up my next day with the tuk-tuk driver to go see the floating fishing villages, but I feel like he is telling me it costs too much and rip me off, I will research prices. I go get a foot/leg massage (for $4) to help my legs recover from a strenuous day of hiking. I ate dinner at The Temple Club and watched a traditional dance show - pretty neat and great atmosphere in the open air restaurant.


Jan 24

I talked to other tuk-tuk drivers and found a ride to the lake and ride should be $10 less than what my originally driver quoted me. I meet him in the morning (b/c I owe him $3 more) and tell him I am not going with him. He gets very angry, tells me I owe him for the day b/c I booked him and he reserved a boat and I owe him for that. I tell him not a chance, I will give him $2 extra for inconvenience. Lets just say he got very, VERY angry at me, but I did not back down. I bet it is not the first time there has been a fight with a tuk-tuk driver!

I went and met up with my new moto driver for the day, and he took me around for the day for $5. First we started at the floating fishing villages. They were really amazing to see, and sad to see the way these extremely poor people have to live. To top it off, tourists like me go in loud, polluting boats to look at the way they live...making them deal with the heavy pollution and noise all day long (I saw one in a hammock trying to rest - not sure how he could in this environment). It really was amazing to see their life, they even had floating boats with basketball and volleyball for the kids! Next we visited a few more spots, and I asked my driver (Som) if I could see his village. He took me up to his local village, about 45 min outside of town. What a great experience. You could not take a car up the road, and at one point the path was flooded and he had to drive the moto through the water. I am able to see many villages along the way, and lots of poverty in the countryside. Som used to work in a hotel for $30/month (24 hours a day), and over 5 years he saved up enough money to buy his used moto (scooter) for $700. Now his earnings potential is much higher as a guide, making $5-10 per day, giving a lot of that money back to his family. We got to his house, and it was a 2 level home with the cooking/eating area on the main level, and sleeping upstairs with a sheet dividing into 2 rooms. They have car batteries that power a few lights in the evening. They offered me food (which I should not have accepted), and i had a few bites of it and all the rice. The local people of Cambodia put the entire chicken (meat and bones) in their food, and it is just not very good. We enjoyed some time together. His family thought I was only 18-20 years old, which we all got a good laugh out of when I told them I was 30!! We then went out to a lake to relax and chill out, it had hammocks on the beach and was really nice and relaxing. I played cards with Som and a few of his friends, good times. I shared my iPod shuffle with him during cards, and he thought it was so amazing and cool. We had a great day, lots of fun hanging out. Som dropped me of at 6pm,, and then invited me to a Chinese NewYear party at 7pm. I couldn't pass up this opportunity, so I obliged. I had so much fun with his family and his uncle (the host of the party). they served warm beer, and I was afraid to use the ice cubes, so I sucked it with the warm beer. I think they thought I was really weird to drink warm beer - oh well!! They prepared a great feast, and we really enjoyed the night. I also got a 4 hands massage before the night was over...pretty amazing!

Jan 25
I wake up and get another good cheese omelette. Som picked me up at 8am, which is feeling pretty early in the morning right now! I head over to his house for my second Chinese New Year celebration (I ate first so I could just pick through the food!). My big backpack was riding on the scooter with us, making me quite nervous!! We took his Uncle's Jeep to tour the countryside and visit the poor market. On the way, we filled up with gas out of blass bottles from a small store on the side of the road! We have a meal, better than yesterday and a few things I eat, and then go upstairs in their home for their celebration and prayer. Before leaving, I received a New Years present from Som's brother, very nice and thoughtful. We then rush to get to the airport, and I arrive 50 min prior to departure...I always seem to have a tough time getting to the airport on time. Off to Bangkok.

Thoughts on Cambodia:
- friendly people
- cheap good food
- dusty roads
- people trying to rip off tourists (especially the tuk-tuk drivers)
- crazy driving - nearly died 1- times I think
- love the open air restaurants

5 Comments:

At 12:45 PM, Blogger Corrie said...

I forgot to tell you in my last comment regarding Bali - if you do decide to venture out to the Gili islands - try to take a speed boat (but they book up quick so plan ahead) straight to Gili Trawangan. If you fly, you will land on Lombok and then have to travel across it on tuk tuks and such - an adventure to be sure, but you'll really get ripped off by "taxes". Once you reach the other side of Lombok you will hop into a fishing boat with locals to get to Gili T.
Speed boat is fastest. But whichever way you go, you'll get a little wet on the boat ride over.

Have fun!

 
At 11:52 PM, Blogger Christy said...

Tuk-tuk - We are going to need more frequent postings here or you may loose your following on this blog!!! That is hilarious about the lady-boy.. you'll have to take a picture for us.

 
At 11:36 AM, Blogger Jeff said...

Tuk-Tuk...getting massages from ladies with Adam's Apples. Watch out!

 
At 4:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

DON'T DRINK anything with ICE in it as ice melts in the warm beer or water leaving all sorts of nasty things which float right into your intestines. Dad drank an iced drink and got TAPE WORM...stick to drinks with no ice!

 
At 5:16 PM, Blogger Chris & Sara said...

ah, the entire chicken in the pot... sounds like Trinidad. You haven't lived until you are served chicken with feathers attached and cooked. Yum.

 

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