Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Good Morning...


But this blog will be about Cambodia.

So, since the last blog post I've been to Southern Cambodia, specifically this place called Sihanoukville.  At this location I had my fair share of "story worthy" things happen, but I'll give two.

Rented scooter/mopeds with another backpacker for one of the days we were there, we figured it would give us the freedom to roam around the city.  We did for a while, he would rip up and down parking lots (his moto was better than mine), and it did give us a certain amount of freedom.  We went down to one of the beaches and walked around there for a while, then when we got back to the bikes I couldn't get mine to start!  So I borrowed his (while he hung out on the beach) and drove back to the hostel we rented them from, and had them come back (only to tell me that I needed to click the kickstand in WHILE holding in the brakes while pressing the starter... embarrassing.  

Anyways, we drove back to the hostel where we met up with a group of other backpackers and decided to go "out" that evening.  They all took Tuk-Tuks, but I figured since we had rented the mopeds for the day, I'd just use it to get to where we were going to get a full days worth out of it!  I borrowed the other one because it was better (and I enjoyed riding it more when I had to go back to the hostel).  We were down by the beach until maybe... 1:30am when I decided that I should go back since I had a island snorkelling tour booked the next day.  So I'm putting my way along back to the hostel and I am halfway up the big main hill in the city when all of a sudden... putt putt putt... dead.  
Out of Gas.

So I coast back down the hill, then push back up another one, then push along the road trying to get to where there is a gas station which, of course, is shut for the night.  Finally I was able to get a local to grab me some gas from somewhere (in coke bottles) for $5.  I'm sure it was more than it was worth, but what else was I to do?  It got me back to the hostel alright though, so that was good.  But boy... I'm not having the best luck with vehicles this trip!

A few days later I went out on a Scuba trip to this Island called Koh Rong.  The diving itself was pretty cool, saw seahorses and other cool crabs, lots and lots of coral at this one site, and even a barracuda.  When we got back to "the island" I had the option to either go back to the mainland (2hr boat ride) or stay on the island in one of the bungalo guesthouses that were built along the beach.  I decided to stay, and then heard that there was a bunch of bungalos on the west side of the island that were really excluded and quiet.  I can understand why, as they were a hour long hike over the ridge of the island to get there.  The hike was a long sweaty one just by itself, but I was also wearing ALL of my bags (50-60 pounds?).   Boy... was I ever regretting it halfway through haha, especially as some parts of the descent were very steep and tricky, requiring ropes as you went from rock to rock.  Saw a little red snake about the size of a pencil on the way over, don't know what kind it was though.  Apparently the island has King Cobras on it.  Didn't see any of those.

Got to the bungalos and they definitely were excluded, a little bit run down too.  Met up with some other people I had met earlier that morning on the boat ride over and hung out with them for the evening.  Watched the sunset (my real reason for choosing the west side) and swam in the water after dark to see the fluorescent plankton, which was pretty cool to see.  Like fairy dust in the water every time you moved and made a current.

Got back to my bungalo (in which I was the only person sleeping) to find that while I was out, rats had chewed through my bag...  dang.   So that put a damper on the whole experience.  Also, nightfall brought "the spiders".  Big suckers.  There was no electricity save for my headlamp, so everytime I'd look their way some of those eight eyes would catch the light.  I fell asleep knowing that the walls and grass roof above me were covered with glowing eyed eight legged freaks.  Needless to say I was happy there was a provided mosquito net, which I tucked WELL under the mattress on the ground and lay as tightly as I could away from the net's walls (afraid I might untuck it in the night and welcome in guests).

Minutes after turning off my lamp I could hear the rats scuttling around me.  I was thankful when morning came haha.

Hiked back the next day, not as bad since I knew what to expect, and then just hung out on the east beaches of paradise waiting for the 4pm shuttle bus back to the mainland.

Getting to vietnam had it's fair share of troubles too, with busses first not having communicated that I had transfer tickets, then the border crossing bus dropping me off 1.5hr walk away from the hostel area of Siagon (Ho Chi Minh).  Even the bus I took from Saigon to Da Lat (where I am now) dropped me off at a distant (main) bus station at 5am with no clear way of where to go.

It's all figured out now though, I'm staying in the "Peace Cafe Hotel" which is actually really nice.  I have my own room which only cost $8 a night, it even has two beds which since I'm alone acts as a nice place to spread out my stuff and organize myself a bit for my many bus rides to come.  I foolishly booked onwards bus tickets through my last hostel and realized after it was non-refundably too late that the company they booked with is notoriously the sleaziest and worst one in Vietnam haha, but it was only $29 for getting me halfway up Vietnam, so I will suck it up for one more trip so I get at least HALF of my moneys worth out of it, but then forsake the last two tickets and go with the company that has good rating.

There we go blog! Post 201!
  I haven't forgotten about you yet.  Our 200th was not so long ago... let's make it to another 200.

Also had really weird vivid dreams while on the bus last night... but this blog is already long, so I won't go into any introspective details about those... this time haha.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

200th Post!

Happy 200th post blog!

Crazy stuff.  This blog has seen me through ups, downs, University, YWAM, multiple world trips, all sorts of events, fires, plays, races, you name it.  I've been slacking a bit recently... but reading that is nothing new, you'll see that statement scattered all over the place in those 200 posts.  Pretty cool though.

But thank YOU, the reader.  I know that you are out there, blogger sends me a little stat every once and a while telling me how often my page is checked, so I know that someone out there is reading haha, and I thank you.  I'll make sure the road to 300 is kept exciting!

Leave a comment if you've ever read one of my 200 posts! (trick question)

So today was pretty eventful!

Woke up and went to this temple that was wayyy far away, about 30-45min Tuk-Tuk ride away.  I split the $30 charge with another backpacker, some Aussie girl from Melbourne, and we went to Beng Mealea temple.  Very cool, it  was totally overgrown and pretty big.  I think those are my favorite temples, the ones where the forest has won.

We were offered to check out the flooded forest/floating villages on the way back, but the person I was splitting the ride with didn't seem too interested... too bad.  Next time!  On the ride home we crashed.


It was really sudden, the tuk-tuk lost control and began to skid then swerved off the side of the road down a short embankment.  It stopped when it hit a tree and jackknifed.  Everyone was okay, the bike got beat up pretty badly though, and had to be disconnected from the carriage and hauled up separately.  The surrounding people were really helpful and the driver was really embarrassed.  Poor guy.  We still paid him, he said the money would go towards repairs (we realized when we were dropped off that the front wheel was messed up).

Aso ate some sticky rice with soy beans in a bamboo chute, it's sold on roadsides, Cambodian/Thai snack, very good!

Got back into town and I rode my bike out to the Angkor Watt again.  Rode around, walked around some temples, and joined some other travelers in walking up the "elephant path" to the top of this hill where the sunset view is supposed to be nice.  It would be if it weren't for all the smog... this heat in Cambodia is something else indeed.  Saw elephants, fed a monkey a banana, rode back to "pub street" and had an awesome meal and a few drinks for a great price, then had a good cup of coffee while watching a philosophy speaker on youtube.  This place is right up my alley, I will come back with anyone who wants to go!  Haha, I'm really looking forward to seeing more old things tomorrow!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Talk...

Well Blog, we need to talk...

You've definitely been neglected... Video blog is younger and more vibrant.  We've had some good times but....

 I don't know... things have changed... I'VE changed, it's not you blog, it's me...

You are... What's that?  You think we could give it another go?  Should we dare?

Okay, you've convinced me.  You're right, we've had too much history just to give up now!  Here's what I propose... you get special spoiler status.  News on the forefront, wayyy before Video Blog is even NEAR reporting it.

Sounds good?


(Spoilers if you want the Video Blog to have surprises!)

So we arrived a couple days ago in Poipet Cambodia.  Getting across had it's hassles, on the Thai side a very fiesty little border guard screeched her way around everyone getting the massive line of foreigners to move back and them split up, so I was separated from the Hope for the Nations group for a while there (but then she was super nice to me inside, weird), and then on the Cambodian side I, like an idiot, had forgotten to print out a copy of my Cambodian Visa, I just had my reference number thinking that would be good enough for it to come up on the screen.  No dice.  So after waiting through the massive line to get to the border check, I needed to go back to no mans land, find a printer and print off my Visa to have it stamped, then stand in the massive line AGAIN to get back to the guard.  All worked out though, and the guards were very friendly.  The rest of my group had gone off ahead during my little delay, so I caught up to them at the hotel by taking a moto-taxi (sitting on the back of a moterbike) to the hotel.  pretty sweet, I have my own private room for $12 American, which is pretty sweet for my own little zone.
The bathroom is shower and toilet space all in one, so when I have a shower the toilet seat is hit by the spray and the entire place is full of water... which doesn't go away.  There is a dip by the door which is on the other side of the bathroom from the drain, so there is a perpetual puddle in the washroom, I forgot about it last night when I woke up in the night... wet foot.

Here in Poipet we went to see some of the projects that have been set up here including a school building/childrens home AND a really cool "School on a Mat"rural education program here.  Video blog shows more footage of that, very cool program though, it's called "Build a Bridge" and can be found if you look into the Hope for the Nations website.

Yesterday I went to Battamburg with two other hope volunteers Sophie, Rebekah and Rachelle.  Sophie is a Cambodian national who works for an NGO here in Poipet, Rebekah works on projects in Cambodia on a regular basis and comes out here once a year and Rachelle is an RA who has been working in Red Cross crisis centres in warzones for the past year, she is volunteering now with Hope for the Nations.   After the two hour drive to Battamburg, we bought goofy glasses to make change for the American cash we took out of an ATM, and then went to get "traditional Cambodian photos" taken.  This is apparently a modern pastime for Cambodians, to have photoshoots in very fancy gear, which are then greenscreened onto backgrounds.  They are incredibly cheesy (but taken seriously here) and we had a lot of fun doing them.  Didn't take any videos of the process... so blog might be the exclusive showcasing location of these photos when they are eventually delivered.

After the photoshoot we grabbed something to eat with two workers from another NGO here in Battamburg, which was really nice, cool to get to know more people who do awesome work. Then we went to the Bamboo Trains, which are these crazy, sketchy little bamboo platforms on railroad tracks that just rocket down the cambodian countryside with no railings or support.  This is one thing that the video blog will do better justice for, but it was a very cool experience.

On the way home, our taxi ran out of gas.  Hilarious.  We had noticed subtle little things that our driver had been doing, turning off the A/C, slowly coasting whenever he got the chance, and finally we could hear the sound of him pumping away at the pedal as we coast at 10 km per hour.  Seeing as this guy had been driving at about 180km/h earlier (honestly, it was scary, cannonball on the run) we figured this meant we were out of luck.   He got out and after fiddling around with something in the engine, he finally waved down a truck that had a massive load of Nescafe boxes on it and big poles sticking out the back.  No biggie, he just tied a rope to the back of this truck and let it pull us for about 10 min to a spot where he could put a little bit of gas into the taxi.   We were laughing hysterically in the back, but I think he didn't mind, he smiled away and laughed with us.  We finally got back later that night and hit the hay pretty quickly afterwards.

And that was my day yesterday in Poipett!
I'll be sticking around for another day or so to take pictures of the various projects that the NGO here runs.  They wanted them so that they could put nice photos onto their sponsorship packages, e-mails, website, etc, so I am happy to help.  After that I'll be heading to Siem Reap, and the temples scattered there... I have very high expectations.

This was refreshing to write on this page again,

You were right blog, we belong together.


(P.S.  To the people who have been coming to this blog and seeing nothing new... I'm sorry)