19.02.2017 - 19.02.2017
We had some nice relaxing times on the beach. I really needed it, I was super tired.
Home is where I am
19.02.2017 - 19.02.2017
We had some nice relaxing times on the beach. I really needed it, I was super tired.
18.02.2017 - 18.02.2017
I rented another bike and went to go explore some beaches. There was a really nice one called Independence beach and when I got there I stayed for the rest of the day. I had a delicious Khmer pancake, I don't know why I've never found these before. They're really great. Big pancakes with meat and vegetables in the middle that you wrap up in a lettuce leaf.
And here's a guy taking pictures of people at the beach. Right.
And here's some goats I saw.
I rode my bike down to Otres beach and found Jack and company at the restaurant beside their house. We sat and ate dinner by the sunset and then I got a room upstairs from the restaurant. It was alright for $7.
17.02.2017 - 17.02.2017
I decided to put an end to these sand flies everywhere, so I left in the morning to go to Sihanoukville, which would be my last stop. I had found out that a fellow TravelPod blogger was in Cambodia at the same time, so I arranged to meet up with him and his girlfriend at Otres Beach 1.
Lottie and I had breakfast and then got some more antihistamines for her. I bought my bus ticket and we said goodbye. But a few moments later we ended up on the same bus anyway. I just had to change halfway through, and she stayed on the bus and went to Phnom Penh.
I stayed at the worst hostel in the world, Utopia on the main street in Sihanoukville. It was really disgusting, but it was only $2.
I went out for a nice dinner at yet another charity restaurant.
There were 25 cent beers at Utopia for happy hour. I hung out in the bar avoiding eye contact for a while and then went to bed.
16.02.2017 - 16.02.2017
Lottie went on a jungle hike early in the morning, and I just stayed in bed all day. Taking anti-histamines for the itching sand fly bites. I even got takeout breakfast and a taro shake to eat in bed.
When I woke up, everyone was back, and we went to the river for dinner. Another German and I had squid, while the British women got scared and waited for us to finish. We all went back to Wood House where they could get some vegetarian food. We saw a Swiss couple from our boat trip and another British guy from our hostel there, so it was fun.
15.02.2017 - 15.02.2017
Lottie and I left on the boat to Koh Kong island. It really was great. After a two hour ride, we were deposited in paradise. We had a beautiful beach all to ourselves. The water was crystal clear and the perfect temperature for swimming. I felt like I had stepped right into someone's computer screen saver.
The guides made us a huge barracuda for lunch, with lots of fruit for dessert. Fantastic. The only problem with this island is the terrible sand flies. They bit me at least 20 or 30 times. I couldn't just lie on the beach, I was always trying to fend them off. I'd jump back in the water whenever I felt too itchy.
Soon, we went back to town, after a stop at the mangroves, which reminded me of Singapore. It was a nice place to relax on a board walk, in the bushes.
When we got back, we all went to the "beer garden" which was not a garden at all. There were a few shacks and some fake plants around the karaoke stage. I sang a couple songs and we had a couple beers while the call girls sang some songs for their potential clients.
We couldn't leave fast enough. Our next stop was Fat Sam's where we had dinner and a crazy old drunk Australian man started talking to us. Another awful irritating one. So my second night in Koh Kong was not so great.
14.02.2017 - 14.02.2017
I was supposed to take a boat to Koh Kong Island at eight, but it wasn't leaving because of "the weather". Later, someone else told me there just weren't enough people for the tour, so fine, but why lie about it? I rushed through breakfast and then they told me all that. So, thanks a lot guest house guy.
So, change of plans, I thought I'd rent a bike to cross the bridge to a temple over the river. Sorry the bikes all have flat tires. OK... so what about the wifi? Maybe I can just watch youtube all day. No... it's broken. Well, I'm just gonna leave then and you will know that it's your fault, because you can't fix a bike tire. OK bye.
I packed up all my stuff, annoyed. I had the idea I'd stay there for three days at least, so I was getting comfortable with the place already. Annoying. I walked down to the waterfront and found the tour company, to book my trip for the next day. He had some dorms, so I just stayed right there. My morale was so low at that point, I just wanted to enjoy the empty dorm for a while. That's what I did until a lively British woman came in named Lottie, she motivated me to go rent a bike with her. We went to the temple (which didn't have any statues of hellish torture, as promised in the Lonely Planet) Disappointed, we headed down to Koh Kong beach. It really was full of litter and gross, but we had our beers and watched the sunset there.
Lottie had a Skype date with her boyfriend, so I left her for an hour to have dinner at Wood House, of course. I went with another German lady, to find dinner. I had some sweet sticky rice and then we had some noodles with Lottie when she was finished her date.
A strange drunk Khmer man had followed me there and he entertained us for a while. We walked home in the dark, promising to eat squid at his restaurant the next day.
13.02.2017 - 13.02.2017
I almost missed the bus after completely not hearing my alarm. However, I kind of knew what color the sky was at 6 a.m., because I seem to always get up then anyway.
I rushed out to the station and got there just on time, crammed some pastries in my mouth and we took off. It didn't matter anyway because we toured around the city picking everyone up. The bus was completely full and I was snoozing in the back when a crazy woman started yelling at me to move because I was in her seat. I pointed at the front where she could sit in my seat, but she didn't want to. No one wants to listen to the bus' horn all day, I knew I sure didn't.
I fought over the toilet again at the rest station and then arrived in Koh Kong in the afternoon. It took a while to find the guest house, because it blended in with the road, but I got there.
I had a beer with a cute English couple and then dinner at Wood House, down the street. The owner made me a wondrous vegetable curry and a caipirinha, so I was happy. I couldn't sleep all night, there were some sort of animals in my room. It was kind of awful.
12.02.2017 - 12.02.2017
I literally spent the whole day on the bus. My ticket said the bus would pick me up at seven, but of course, it didn't come until eight. I bought a lot of pastries at the market while waiting, and snacked on them all day.
I had a couple of outbursts on people who don't understand a toilet line. They sure do understand lines when someone is standing at the door enforcing them though! At the second washroom we stopped at, the efficiency was amazing. Everyone fell right into line because the cleaning woman was keeping track of who was butting in. At the first toilet, no such authority figure was there, guess who waited about 20 minutes for a toilet at that one. I only got to pee after I literally elbowed someone who tried to cut in front of me out of the way. What utter inconsiderate nonsense.
When we finally arrived in Phnom Penh, we were near the train station. I tried to buy a ticket to Sihanoukville, but the train wasn't leaving until Friday. I put that info in my back pocket for the trip back. I might come back that way next week.
With the train idea obliterated, I went to find a different bus company to get to Koh Kong, but my favourite one didn't go there, nor did the ticket woman help me out with even the name of another company who might go there. Not my favourite bus company anymore, Phnom Penh Sorya! I went back to the bus I got there with once again, and reluctantly bought a ticket leaving in the morning.
88 Backpackers was not so far from there, so I got a bed in the quiet room and went to the market for noodle soup and a jackfruit shake for dessert. Beers were also enjoyed on the common balcony before bed.
It was freezing when my moto driver brought me to the park office, 20 km away. He would wait for me until noon and then we'd go back home. I saw my missionary friends waiting for the rest of their group to arrive, so I asked if they were getting a truck up to the top. Most of them were making the 3,000 step pilgrimage on foot actually, so it was decided that I could share their truck with them, there would be plenty of room. This required a lot of waiting around, but I think it was better than going on my own.
Their amazed reactions to everything was more than enough entertainment for me. I walked up to the cliff on my own, but on my way down, I saw them coming up. We chummed around as they took those "inspiring" photos of each other, gazing off into the distance, everywhere.
They had a little picnic and I was happy they got me down by noon, so that Mr. Cham, my driver didn't have to wait.
I had an amazing fish lettuce wrap lunch and then spent the afternoon at a TV cafe catching up on my journal and using the wifi. I was propositioned for sex by a strange man who began showing me pornographic photos on his phone, until I started screaming NO NO NO NO NO at him. He left quietly.
Later I went back to my dreary guest house, took a nap and then crossed the street for some beers with a team of Coca Cola distributors. They seemed quite happy to push smaller Cambodian drink companies out of business to make way for "good quality" products such as Fanta, Dasani and the like. Hmm. I tried to imagine what it would be like to see a huge American conglomerate as inherently better than anything made in my own country by my nighbours. I guess that's what happens when your country is broken and you can't even trust your own people.
Anyway, the deep fried mushrooms were amazing dipped in mayonnaise and hot sauce, as well as the steamed fish cakes barbecued in banana leaves. But I got that weird rash on my throat again, so I vowed never to eat strange processed fish again. One day I might die.
The moto driver picked me up right on time, and I got in the van destined for Sra'Em, finally. They dropped me off in another dusty town where I was shoved into a car and my bag was strapped to the roof without my permission. I yelled and got it back down, then we sat four in the back seat, three in the trunk, and four more in the front. The driver actually shared his seat with a tiny elderly man in a floppy camo hat. Crazy.
We must've arrived at lunch time because there were a bunch of young missionaries milling about, on their break from teaching the alphabet to orphans. I talked to a few of them in the cafe to see if they were going to the temple tomorrow. They actually were, but of course I couldn't just hop in their van with them, although that would've been awesome. They also didn't know what time they were leaving in the morning. I went and found a cheap guest house and arranged a moto driver at the more expensive hotel next door. What a relief. I hate negotiating with those jerks.
As I was doing that, I saw the two Italian women who I met in Battambang. They had bought a motorcycle and were headed to Laos. I invited them to dinner at 7 and took a little nap in my crappy room.
What they didn't tell me was they were also eating with an extremely irritating older Dutch man (imagine that... an old man traveling around Asia is irritating!) with an extremely terrible perm (????!!!). He constantly complained about everything, including the bamboo train (!!!), which I went on with the Italians. They also enjoyed it but wouldn't say anything to him, I don't know why. There was also a bizarre argument about Lonely Planet, which he says is always wrong, and I agreed with him, and he pitied me for using it for basic information. There were some more strange discussions about the farmers markets in Canada. He said they are a racket and they are stealing money from people who are trying to support farmers! Um! I lived in many rural areas and can tell you honestly that all that money goes to supporting small farms and the families that work on them! It's just that the grocery store tomatoes are grown on insanely huge farms so no one can beat their economies of scale.
But no, this is all lies, according to my new friend. He spent a few weeks in Canada once and he knows. I was irritated, to say the least, and said goodbye to this terrible human being, sad that he ruined what could've been a nice dinner with my Italian friends.
I woke up real early. Part of my high ticket price went to a tuk tuk driver who would bring me to the bus station. He never showed up. I waited an hour int he lobby, said goodbye to Helen and no one ever came. The front desk guy made a call, but by then it was too late. I'd have to change my ticket, but no one could tell me if it was even allowed. No one at the bus station seemed to even work there. I gave up and marched myself back to the ticket booking place. They changed it no problem, but they told me to make sure I didn't miss the bus tomorrow! Excuse me! Well! I was frustrated with this "service" and realized I would be bored the rest of the day. What to do? Oh maybe I'll eat a happy pizza and just sleep some more. Sure.
I chatted online while high and paranoid out of my mind. I closed the curtains around my bottom bunk and hid from imaginary Khmer Rouge agents looking for foreigners to interrogate and kill. I promise I don't have ANY secrets. I sure did fall asleep, just to make the THC wear off. My god. And then I woke up at 3 a.m. or something and was really super prepared to get out of there in the morning.
I woke up early, but it wasn't enough. I couldn't find this mysterious bus to Koh Ker. Someone finally attempted to help, but it was wrong. I ended up at a dusty market in the middle of nowhere. A young man told me to sit down and a bus would come in "20 minutes". Everything comes in 20 minutes doesn't it? I have learned that this is really code for "Any goddamn time, don't ask me, I have no idea".
So I sat there not particularly convinced. Soon an hour went by and I saw a European guy drive up on his scooter to buy a sandwich. I asked if I could hitch a ride with him, even though I had no idea where he was going. He said sure, and we ended up at Beng Meallea, a huge temple, crumbling and covered in the jungle. It was besieged by Chinese tourists, but I had a good time there, despite not reaching my destination.
Gustav, my Swedish driver, had an idea to go see a waterfall, so we stopped for lunch and asked the noodle woman how to get there. She pointed in the direction we planned to go and then pointed to her legs. We must walk, we can't ride our scooter, she said. I absolutely trusted her, but Gustav wanted to press on. I told him truthfully that it wouldn't bother me to hitchhike back to the city, and that he should continue on his own adventure without me. I think he thought I would be stuck and wait for him there, so he took off quickly. The joke was on him, because I found a ride back to Siem Reap in about 30 seconds.
A nice couple was driving there and leaving that same instant. I hopped in their big white truck, where they gave me fried bananas and we drove almost all the way back. We stopped outside the city at what seemed like a small fairground. There would be a party, they told me. I guess I wasn't invited, because they found an English speaking guy who said he would drive me the rest of the way. I was not feeling good about him, and all the other young men, who were suddenly circling around me, so I said no thank you and started walking.
The English speaking guy followed me on his motorbike, and he flagged down a car with a young family in it. I'd rather go with them, and they let me until we got to Angkor Wat. Of course, I no longer have a park pass, so I was kicked out of the car. They were allowed through without me. I don't think they wanted me in the car anyway. I gave them a dollar to apologize.
The park ranger said I had to get a moto taxi to take me back to town, but I literally only had a dollar left and it wouldn't be enough. Instead, I spent it on a coconut and tried to find another ride. I came upon a truck driver taking a pee. He let me get in his big truck and drive with him to Siem Reap, thank goodness. I headed straight for the Bank of China, but I also stumbled on a ticket booking place. I asked for a ticket to Sra Em, where my next destination would be. Prasat Preah Vihear, the temple that Thailand and Cambodia have been fighting over for a decade. Today, the area is peaceful. The war ended in 2011, when the UN decided the temple belonged to Cambodia. It seemed like the best way to end my trip, in such a controversial place. So, I booked the $17 ticket (an exorbitant amount!) and went to a nearby hostel to catch up on sleep again.
I met a nice Chinese lady named Helen and we had dinner before she had to go back to China.
It started to get light out, and everyone was asleep, so I decided to make my escape. Problem was, I could only find one of my shoes. I walked around for at least half an hour, before I found it, about 10 metres away. Did a dog take it and lose interest? Did some jerk just throw it into the grass when he was drunk? I'll never know, and I didn't care enough to find out. I put on my shoes and started walking. There was no way I'd be able to stand the two or three hour ride back to town with these idiots.
I just chose a direction and went, with no idea if it was the right way. Before long, a pack of angry dogs encircled me and I had to fend them off with my bag. I kept going, and there seemed to be no end to these angry canines everywhere. I was a little stumped. I started to walk back, defeated, when I saw a sweet little school girl on her scooter with her very young brother. i showed her bus stop in my dictionary and she took me right away. I gave her a dollar, which she tried to refuse, and hopped into the mini van, bound for Battambang. Finally. Ugh.
As soon as we arrived, I headed back to Siem Reap. This was the wrong idea, but it made sense at the time. I had breakfast at the same vegan place and then slept all the way to Siem Reap.
The bus driver told me to come back tomorrow when another bus would take me to Koh Ker. I was just relieved to be away from all those douchebags. I got a little hotel room and some takeout noodles with beer. I washed some clothes and had a good sleep. Everything seemed right with the world again.
The hostel also planned a camping trip, which didn't go so well. We waited around all morning for people to rent their bikes. Against my better judgment, I hopped on one with Ben, an 18 year old British guy. Oh lord.
I didn't find out how old he was until we were almost there. At which point, there was a big pile up on a gravel road and I found myself on the ground rolling around in the dust, dodging the next bikes in line. I wore all long sleeves, pants and shoes, so I was fine. The crash was in slow motion also. I t didn't make me very excited to go back with Ben the next day at all.
We went swimming near a small waterfall, and of course the boys needed to jump off the cliff, one after the other. Ben was the first of course. i just sat on the stones sipping cheap beer, marvelling at the way things stay the same, throughout the millennia.
There was some sort of dinner, but I couldn't finish it. Some jerks decided to shit talk feminists so I left and went to bed. I was only there for maybe a half hour when the same jerks came in my hut and tried to sleep there. I told them I wasn't sleeping in the same hut as them, and they said they were no matter what I said. They dropped their bags off and left a blanket. I stole it and fell asleep till they came back. It was the campsite owner's blanket, not his, so I didn't care. I didn't sleep at all after that, it was too cold.
Our hostel organized a tour leaving in the morning and coming back in time for dinner. The first stop was the bamboo train. All the ladies went on one car together. I was glad for that because earlier in the day, I heard our driver actually selling us. He told some prospective male tourists that there were "girls" in the car, so they should come with us and buy his tour. He was selling us as a part of his tour. Really cool guy, right? Bleh.
Anyway, the bamboo train was fun. It was a little car made from bamboo slats that the driver had to take apart and put back together if someone came from the other direction. The heaviest car had the right of way, so our car went really fast with four of us on it. It was like a little rollercoaster. Except with nothing remotely resembling safety equipment at all.
Before combustible engines, people would push themselves around with poles along the tracks, so it was interesting to experience. Our driver, Rith, said that they'll be closing it down soon to make a new railway.
Our next stop was an old temple, Phnom Banan. I met a Cambodian architect at the top, he told me all about the temple. He was building a new overpass on one of the highways so he was living in Battambang for a while.
We continued on to Banan winery, the only one in Cambodia, to try some awful wine and some really great ginger juice. Also, there was some brandy that was fine. The Italians hated it, but I guess I've gotten used to baijiu, so it was OK for me.
Next up, we had lunch at a little reservoir, where the water was warm and not very refreshing. They served me some instant noodles for $3 and we went on our way to a small suspension bridge and Phnom Sampeau, where there were some "killing caves" which I avoided, and beautiful views at the temple at the top.
The real draw though, was feeding time for the bats. They all came out of their cave in a long column, starting precisely at 6:17 p.m. I sipped on a fresh coconut as we watched the show. The smell of bat pee and poo was strong and unbearable after about 10 minutes, so we all went home.
Rith's van had bluetooth, so we listened to some Canadian songs from my iPod until we got back.
I went with my German friend Monika to the night market for dinner, but all I wanted was juice. I got myself some sugar cane juice and an avocado shake and I was happy.