Hey Everyone. Letting you know I’m still alive and well (Just about) in Siem Reap in Cambodia.The most adventurous so far. I decided to give the whole KSR package thing a miss as a result of reading up on www.talesofasia.com ‘s advice. Whooooweeee, what a journey.Just to let you know, this is going to be a LONG ass post.
Started off after being tought to drive a tuk-tuk in Bangkok (Thailand) and getting to know the driver. We had a great bond (“James bond? Ill do it!”) 😉 and after me teaching him English over a few beers each morning at 5am and him teaching me Thai, I explained what I intended to do.
He listened, understood and mentioned that he had a friend going to the poipet border to collect people arriving from cambodia in the morning. He said I could get the bus (Minibus) almost all the way to poipet for free. So far so good. Left at 3am and met the minibus driver. Drove for about 2 and a half hours (I fell asleep) in a minibus alone. Nice scenery in the dark. Stopped off in a TINY little village so the guy could “rest”. I let him do so and I took my stuff to see if I could look around that morning. Good fecking job I did! Got back about 20 mins later and he was gone. So heres me stuck in the middle of NOWHERE trying to get to poipet and not even knowing if I was brought in the same direction as it. Luckily I was. I swallied me fear and hitchhiked on the main road. After only THREE cars, I was picked up. Some really old, but nice Thai man. I flattered him with my Thai and he took me to Poipet border. I threw him 300 Bhat for his kindness. I actually could have walked to poipet from there anyway actually!
At this stage now it was 9 bells and I got across the border all on my tod (Considering there was not hundreds of others there due to a package KSR tour) perfectly. Even haggled in Thai to get the visa for the CORRECT price(1000 Bhat).
Crossed the border with no problems but WOW. The difference was regognized INSTANTLY. Cambodia (At this stage, the roads at least) is to Thailand what Thailand is to Ireland.Hung around for about 10 mins and a load of locals were hanging around a pickup truck. I knew I’d see this so I went over and pointed frantically. They all smiled (Thank Buddah!) and helped me in with my bag. After a 2 hour BEAUTIFUL drive to sisiphon, I got out and paid my $5 (Which was FAR too much) and the driver was very happy. Everyone was getting out so I just assumed he was not going to Siem Reap. I just said the words “Siem Reap”to one of the guys and he was like “Yea! Yea!”and called another guy over that was there. THIS guy spoke English! I told him I was going to Siem Reap and he said he could take me on Motocross/Dirtbike for $5. YES! Made the rest of the way through the MOST beautiful scenery I have ever seen. Absolute agony though being on a motorbike with my backpack for god knows how many hours. I had to get him to stop like 10 times!
Finally reached Siem reap and into my hostel (Sorry Cuffy, needed to book it using PAYPAL). As soon as I got there the lady sat me down got me some water and told me EVERYTING about the place, her people and what there was tro do in Siem Reap and what to avoid. Really nice, but I think most people only come here for one reason. One of the seven wonders of the world. 😉 . . . . ANGKOR WAT. More on that later though.
The owner of the guesthouse met me later on and she was REALLY nice. She is Norwegian but she knew I was travelling alone. Met another group of Norwegians and Sigaporians and they are all really nice and cool. The owner of the guesthouse (Christin) teaches in the local orphanage. She brought me and MaryAnn to the Orphanage to meet the kids and to have a talk about IRELAND! The children also put on a dance show (Apsara) for us which was AMAZING. Lots of photos of that!
Anyway, yesterday I went to the West Balay with THREE Khmer (Cambodian) staff for their day off. I was invited, I couldn’t say no! What a day! Its the HUGE Khmer resevoir where only cambodians go. It was so weird, there were THOUSANDS of people there and I was the ONLY white guy. Lots of fun though. Went swimming, sat in a hammock and I had dinner sitting around eating and picking with our hands. Really cool experience. Had to get back to the hostel at 5 because I had to go to…… the BEST part of my trip so far……. A traditional Khmer wedding that we were invited to!
Christin was allowed bring some guests and my Buddah, am I glad she invited ME. It was the most fun I’ve had and the most culturally interesting experience of my live. First of all we arrived and everyone was so surprised to see white (Barang as apposed to Farang) people. We walked through the welcoming “Aisle” and were given gifts to thank us for coming. Lovely loveheart keyrings in gold or silver (I got gold) with lights. We sat down at a table with some Khmer old ladies and their daughter. Good job the daughter spoke some English, she explained EVERYTHING to us.The Ceromony is over 3 days and we were there on the final day. We were served an 11 course meal (Which was not very nice… Khmer food is not my….forte) but there was FREE BEER the WHOLE night. The bride had 30 dresses and she changed every hour or so into them so it was hard to tell where she was at any given time.Really beautiful traditional dresses. My biggest regret was FORGETTING MY CAMERA! Its ok though, I have copies of the others photos. The beer flowed and the customs of cutting hair and thanking guests followed and then the dancing began. The whities were DRAGGED up ontop the dance floor (Or dance table) and as soon as we were there HUNDREDS of people flocked around to dance with us. It was the strangest experience of my life. I felt like I was getting married! I actually felt a bit like GOD! Seriously. Everywhere I walked people would grab me to dance with them or join their table for a beer (Or a downing of a beer as they do it). We danced the night away, I learned some traditional Cambodian dancing (Very easy) and learned some more of teh language. Achun Cambodia! After meeting and having beers and of course dancing around the central table with literally EVERY person there, it was time to leave. Went out to eat some western food (Italian actually) with the rest of the foreigners. Had a rake load of beers ‘cos the Khmers cannot handle their drink , and finally went home, of course after having SOOOO much fun learning the skills of what is now oficially named “A blue steel photo”. HEHEHE, Bob and Emma (Not from Ireland) you are the masters!My Hat goes off to you.
Anyway, the place is EXTREMLY hot and pretty impossible to bear in the daytime (Now). The biggest impact of this place is the poverty. I thought Bangkok was bad. Holy S%^T! The people here are POOOORRRRR. However they are also the most friendly people I have ever met.I mean that by a LONG shot. After their recent history, I am actually quite surprised about that.The whole Khmer Rough thing is so terrible and I feel terrible that I was not aware of it until now. Read my book of history on Cambodia so I’m pretty up to date now on that asshole Pol Pot. Ill do a full update when I head south and visit the killing fields. (If anyone wants to know where I am, watch the movie of the same name “The killing fields”). Need to visit S-21 before I give a proper update.
Could not rent a bike here cos its illegal for tourists, but the traffic here is a tourist attraction in itself. There are literally NO rules of the road here and there is just a constant flow of THOUSAND of motorbikes EVERYWHERE. To cross the road, you just step out into the traffic and let everyone drive around you. Its the done thing!
Anyway, I think that should go now, I need to try make a phone call to my sister. Happy Birthday Jennifer! I miss you and I love you so much.
Sarah, checked your website and glad to hear your rested up and getting back into the swing of things. I miss you so much and I wish you were here right now (Well, not in this internet cafe!). We’ll see this together one day. I Hope!
Anyone wantsto leave a comment or a message for me, feel free. Love you all and miss you all too. Take care and give buttons a ware for me (After her bath)
Ill update when i get to phnom penn.