am now in Phnom Penh - sorting out paper work. But that's another email......
am really enjoying Cambodia, I'll try my best to describe to you in words
what it is like to explore Phnom Penh.
I leave my guest house pull my self through the hoards of tuk tuk and moto
drives asking me if i want to go to the Russian market, I say politely as
possible, no -I see these guys every day, but i guess they ask just in
case. I walk down the street avoiding the puddles of muck from yesterdays
rain, left steaming as it dried up, the smell hits your nostrils and you
hold your breath, you round the corner onto a busier road, this is where
you have to watch out for motos coming towards you, while having more tuk
tuk drivers yelling and clapping at you from across four lanes of traffic
and a 10m wide park. With a wave of my hand down down my my thigh i
dismiss them, and they leave me alone. Walking up this new road i step
over rubbish, puddles and around cars, motos, fruit stands, fuel pumps. I
try to use the short burst of clear foot paths, but it means stepping up
and down the huge kerbs between drive ways. which feels like your
continually mountain climbing. I step back onto the road - by now the
traffic have increased and you have motos trying to go between you and the
food stalls. You come to an intersection, you just keep on walking your
slow walk, the motos, weave around you and you can here the tuk tuk
drivers yelling out. I have to smile, the sun is shinning up you can see
its going to rain soon, A few Khmer people wave out to you and say hello,
you are friendly because, by now you know a few khmer people and you don't
want to make that mistake of not recognising them. You are passing a
market now, the smell of fish flows into your nose, depending on how much
you drunk that night, you decided on whether you can keep on breathing or
not. You are approaching a food stall with something you haven't tried yet,
you stop, practice you khmer sentences, top try and get the correct price
out of the worker. it turns out to be a sweet desert with a coconut cream
on it. you buy a couple more for the rest of your walk. You pass another
market, where they are use to balangs. the stall people are calling out to
you to buy bananas or pineapples... if you buy from these people you will
defiantly get ripped off. I keep on walking, a young girl walks up to me
and asks if i want to buy some water, "no thank you'' reply in Khmer. I
back into the street with my guest house on it and wave out to all the
people i know.As i enter my guest house, the people who work there that
have become my good friends all call out to say "hello kiwi" and high five
Its raining outside now, i am stuck in the Internet cafe until it stops.
If i did step out side, i would be drenched in a heart beat, the roads are
filling up quick, but it is nice to have the temperature cool down for an
So since I've been back in Phnom Penh, In the first week back here, i went
with my friends to the garbage belt, there is a school that is situated in
the middle of the dump. They go once a week to deliver, fruit. To get to
the dump, we have to go through deep mud that's never dried up from all
the rain we have been having. We are lucky today and have an awesome Tuk
Tuk driver called Vin. He races through the deep muck left by the preouse
truck. We park the tuk tuk outside the school. Within a matter of minutes,
we are swarmed by hundreds of children. They are all at school today. They
are lucky and do not have to spend the day picking through the rubbish in
order to collect the best plastic.
We try not to disturb the older children and just sneak into the younger
class - today we have stickers, colour pencils, colour paper, colouring in
books, beads to make necklace and some clothes to hand out. All these
things got sent to us from people in Holland who have heard about Sonja
and Marcel, going to the dump each week to hand out fruit to encourage the
children to go to school. There are a few lucky children who have been
sponsored by people and go to state school for half a day.Their family
also gets a bag of
rice for the month to ensure the child has enough food.
Vin gets busy and sits down to help the girls make necklaces, we try to
hand out the stickers to everyone... they are all trying so hard not to be
left out and keep yelling out 'muy det' 'muy det' (one more) We have a
great time with these kids and they spent the afternoon doing something
different instead of watching TV. We head home, dirty, smelly, tuk tuk
completely covered in muck - but we are happy to see the children play
like normal children.
Sonja invited me to join Chris and her self to Battambang to go on a train
ride. Sonja explained to me that this is not ordinary train ride. We get
to do it Cambodian style... sit on the roof - this got me interested. So
we head up to Battambang with a hangover - and one extra person toe. We
arrive and since i have been here before i take them to a good guest house
where we share rooms. Early the next morning we get up and send Chris down
to buy tickets while Sonja and I head to the market to buy food for the
day. We hear it is a 14hour train ride to Phnom Penh. So we will be
prepared. As we were almost at the train station we get a call from Chris.
Hurry up - the train is leaving soon. He was right, just as we got there
we had to run to jump onto the train. Now I'm not talking about catching a
high speed train in China... we are talking about almost breaking into a
jog... it was that
slow. Once we were on, we look around - the inside of the train was
completely destroyed! the wall linings were missing, the chairs were not
attached to the floor... and specking of the floor - what floor! we dump
some of our stuff and head to the roof. Within a matter of minutes we had
our first obstacle - a tree. A thick tree branch swept the entire roof,
anyone who was on the roof had to lay down flat and hold on for dear life!
No sooner that one had past when another branch came alone - 'fuck duck'
was the cry from the first carriage with people on it. We had about 20
branches that day and only one lost hat. Not to bad odds considering. When
it got too hot to sit on the roof of the train, we climbed back down to
sit in side (on the only good seat in the last carriage) I settle down for
a snooze, while some smart cookies, set up hammocks - dam them - Sonja and
I were looking at them at the market. It now been 7 hours. We have finally
traveled 100kms. We decide to get off the train and take a bus back to
Phnom Penh. If we had continued to take the train we would have arrived in
Phnom Penh at 3am. Everyone but I had to work the next day. Just as we
boarded the bus, the rain started to fall - we were luck, if we were still
on there we would have also been wet!
Chris invited a few of us from the guest house to go to the water park
with the orphans he teaches. So we clamber aboard a bus with all the
children sitting on us and we were off... to the WATER PARK.... some one
had sponsored these children to spend the day there.We had so much fun
taking the little children up and down the slide - Chris and i made one of
the guys take a smaller child down the tame slide, some kid had shat in
the water and there was no way Chris or I were going in it. Dave thought
it was just mould when we questioned him later! silly man.
That weekend Sonja, Mel and I get geared up - the girls equipped with
motorbikes and I on my monster and we head to Tamako Zoo.Another guy from
the guest house joined us - he was riding a Baja 250, but while Mel was
getting use to riding a moto in Phnom Penh, we were only traveling 20km
max. I was frustrated let along this poor guy i just met. So
i tell him basic directions which turn out to be wrong! and we lose him,
never to been seen again until later that night. The zoo was better than
what i was expecting. We burnt around it on motorbikes and headed home in
time to drop the bikes off. I guide the girls to the moto hire place and
tell them to jump on to my bike. All three of us drive back to the guest
house - oh i love Cambodia and all the crazy things you can do.
Other the past few weeks, i have been getting to know a few of the boys at
the guest house. Sena, Vin, Alah, Nap, Mup & Mr Phally.Sena had a bad
accident on his moto, while trying to avoid a dog - he was off work for
most of the time i was in Phnom Penh. I missed his friendly face so i went
out to see him at his home twice a week. We just talked or played cards
and ate crazy food.
Vin and Mup finished work roughly around the same time, so Vin would sneak
off and have a few jugs with us at the beer garden with Mup and I. And of
course anyone else that wanted to come along with us.
Alah, Nap and Mr Phally - these three guy are the ones we went out with
the most. They finished around 12pm, by this time we had been out with the
Vin and Mup, gone to a pub, had dinner, come home, gone back out to our
local and then meet up with them when they finished work. So normally we
would be completely drunk . We would cram three people onto a moto and
head around to our late night beer garden. Eat crazy food such as frogs
legs, dog, jerky and more normal food as well. About 3am we would climb
aboard the motos and drive back to our guest house ( the guys slept there
Sonja and I normally get up early on Saturday mornings and go off on our
adventures, this Saturday was not an exception.
This time we were going further a field, to Kirrom National Park. Which is
about 100km south of Phnom Penh. We arrive at the junction and stop to
decide on what to do - a couple of moto taxi guys ride over to us and ask
if we want to go to the park - we say 'aday akon' (no thank you) they
start to talk in Khmer - They are talking about me and my motorbike - 'joy
muy tom tom' which means mother fucker big big. i had to laugh at them and
Kirrom is a huge park which includes several mountain or hills if your a
kiwi. Sonja get first hand experience at using gears to go up hill. I had
to laugh. Then it started raining hard so we put on our ponchos and hurry
to find shelter under a tree. While we are waiting, we start to take
stupid photos of us sorry of me being a purple ghost. I swear i didn't
take any drugs. Sonja caught me on camera, doing a little jig on top of
the hill - I'm just waiting until that gets uploaded to facebook. We head
down to the village at the bottom of the hill and check into a guest house
which I'm not to sure about - i think its a hore house since there are so
many police around. At least i know that my bike will be safe. The
following day, we
head out to the other side of the park. Sonja stops me and informs me that
her petrol is getting low - we are 10km away from a a petrol station.... i
tell her this is the second time you have done this to me... rule number
one - always check your fuel before heading off. We drop her bike off and
she joins me on my bike. Its a dirt road anyway and she want to have a
ride on my bike. We arrive at our destination and get on an Ox cart to be
taken 2kms up the road, from there we walk another 2kms to a beautiful
water fall. All the locals are sitting around it eating their lunch. A few
of them are under the waterfall completely dressed. its the Cambodian way.
They all wave out to us and take photos of us. its a great feeling been
Sonja left for Vietnam and Marcel left for Bangkok. So it back to two...
Chris and I. Chris was due to leave this coming weekend so there were a
few parties to be had. I met another long termer at the guest house called
Rachael. So for that week Chris, Rachael and I go out for dinner and party
at the our local. On Saturday night we went to a drum and Bass night
with all the locals from the bar. We had a great night dancing to live
french drum n bass. enough parting talk.... you will start to think that
I'm a booze hag. (secretly i think i might be)
Sonja is back, and we head to Kep to take a boat to Rabbit Island. 20
minutes and completely drenched with water we arrive at the island. All we
see is 10 boats and one house. Our boat driver takes us down this little
path and we pop out on the other side of the island - there are tiny
little bungalow made out of bamboo. We settle down in one. Which just
contains a mattress on the floor and a net. We head down to the beach to
enjoy about 1hrs worth of sun before we were woken by the rain. We duck
inside and decided its time
for lunch and a beer. For the next three days, Sonja and I enjoy doing
nothing....sleeping, eating and swimming. What a life. The only down side
to this is, at night I got completely wet. Sonja and I shared a bungalow,
she picked her side and i got mine. My side was the one closest to the out
side wall... well if you could call it a wall. So when it rained during
the night I got it.I just covered my self with a smelly blanket and slept
Back in Phnom Penh, my friend Amy from Australia was due to come ans visit
me. Now Amy is a girl i met just before i left Australia. She joined her
boyfriend and traveled from England to South Africa on motorbike. When i
first met her, she gave me a boost in what i was doing - the timing was
purfect as i was about to leave Cambodia and start my second stage of my
trip. So having her around made me look normal to my peers - as she has
a lot more than me and crazier stuff.
Its coming to crunch time - my invitation has arrived and i have to drop
it into the embassy for a visa. So far i have been here for 6 weeks.
Another one to go. Its time to get down to business. This week I have to
arranged my motorbike flights, create, customs and my visa then lastly my
flights. All going to plan my motorbike leaves on Friday and i will on
Sunday for South Korea.
I contact Korea Air who i had arranged to fly my motorbike with, they had
decide that they no longer take dangerous good. They told me this on
Monday.... Fridays looming.... I discover that Thai Cargo flys into
Cambodia and there office is just around the corner from the guest house.
I head down there... the lady is uncertain about the dangerous good issue
and informs me that it has to be created. Eventually she tells me if i
empty the oil, fuel and remove the battery, then she call let the
motorbike go on board as a spare part. I agree and race down to find the
customs office to obtain a permit to export my bike. It takes me two days
to find this customs office - in the end i went past it 30 times... the
sign was in french - hence me not knowing it was the customs office - dam
Other the next couple of days i become good friends with the customs guys.
They seam to drop everything when i come into the office. All the guys
move a side and let me be stamped first! This is a huge change to Vietnam!
The custom guy asks me all about my trip and pulls out a world map and i
show him where i have come from and where I'm going next. then i pull out
my camera and show him pictures of my motorbike.
While i am romancing with the customs guy, i have arranged for a create to
be built and treated to Korea's standards. I have arranged for a truck to
pick my create up and take it to the airport.
Mr Sok and I (Mr Sok is the handyman at the guest house - he decide it
would be fun to help me) take my bike apart and clean it, remove the fuel
and oil. I made a on the spot decision to just tape the battery up and to
leave it int the bike - hoping no one will look. We also remove all the
cables from the handle bars and make it easier for me to remove the handle
bars when i push it around to the create (which is also conveniently
located around the corner)
The following day, i push my bike around, I had Vin drive past me tooting
and the other tuk tuk drivers, who always ask me if i want a tuk tuk
asking what wrong with my bike.... I get it around to the create place and
remove the handle bars. While they are packing my bike - they told a young
guy who works there to help me do the customs at the airport - i must of
made a good impression on them, as normally nothing is done for free for a
But sure enough, he fills out the paper work, takes me to the airport on
his moto and helps me run around to all the offices, obtaining stamps and
paying money to all the correct people. I would not of been able to do
that with out him.... it was just poorly laid out and all in Khmer script.
We had time to sit down and wait for my motorbike to turn up created. The
customs people open the create to check to see if its what I'm saying it
is and that its has no dangerous materials in it... eg oil, petrol and a
battery. I am starting to sweat. its lucky it is so hot inside the shed
and there are 15 people standing around trying to see what a western girl
sending on an aeroplane. it passes the first check. Now they pick it up
with a fork lift and put it through the big scanner... it gets the second
all clear. Time to head home. I have a feeling that the guys who packed it,
know that i was hiding my battery. They pointed to a poster on the wall,
that said not batteries... oh well it got through. I gave the guy $5 bucks
for helping me. For me to get a ride to the airport one way would have
cost me $5 - his help was really worth way more - he looked at me in
surprise and gratefully thanked me.
I got back to the guest house had a quick lunch and got one of the guys to
take me to the airline company to buy my self a ticket. I got some more
bad news... the Sunday flight was sold out,but they can put me on the a
waiting list. come back tomorrow. Today was Friday... tomorrow is Sunday....
i raced back to the guest house and started to pack... clean motorbike
jackets, helmets and boots. I had to arrange a few things for Korean
customs and go back to Thai Cargo and pay for my bike. I wrapped up Friday
at 6pm, in need of a drink - still not sure if i was leaving tomorrow or
the next. Rachael decided it was time to open the bubbly that Sonja had
brought us.At 10pm, i crashed.... i was way too drunk, stressed and had
next to nothing to eat all day. I went to bed in my clothes.
I woke on Saturday feeling great - i quickly ran over to check my emails
and found my bike had arrived into Thailand and was waiting to leave that
night to Korea. So it pasted the first flight with my battery on board.
I grabbed Vin and got him to take me to the airline company again to find
out which day i am flying.... they had computer problems so i was left
waiting for 30 mins.... just waiting with my fingers crossed.... finally i
could not bear it any longer - did i get a flight on Sunday?of course was
her reply!! fuck why didn't you tell me sooner... i was almost
pissing my pants!
back at the guest house - i am floating, my bike left the country and i
have a ticket to tomorrow.... i finish up my packing and race around doing
all the other little things that pop up. At 3pm i head around to my
friends house for a BBQ and drinks. This just reminds me how good Phnom
Penh is... and how much i really want to stay here - i look around the
room full of people who i have meet and become friends with over the last
7 weeks. I just keep telling my self - I'm following a dream.... complete
that first, then decide.
at 12pm i leave the party to join the local guys at the beer garden. Its
more quiet this time - I'm not really in the mood for talking. I guess I'm
a bit sad to leave.... and its really hard to say good bye.
Sunday - what to do.... its Sunday, i leave today, but not until 9:30pm.
Rachael and I spend the day together, have a nice lunch out and play
500... we move out to the back where the kitchen ladies hang out. they are
such sweet people, asking us questions in broken English and we answer in
broken. I explain I'm leaving today. all the guys are coming up to me
hugging me and telling me good luck. My western friends walk past saying
good bye each time - some walked past four times!
By the time dinner came around.. i was so nervous, i had no patience left..
i couldn't wait for dinner... i couldn't wait for anything... i was
worried about what was installed for me over the next few days. All the
people at the guest house could see i was on the edge. 9pm rolled around
and my Tuk tuk driver (Nap) hasn't turned up. Alah called him for me...
hes on his way - half an hour later they call again... hes just around the
corner... as soon as he arrived a threw my stuff onto the tuk tuk and
hugged everyone good bye. Alah saw he was missing out and jumps up to say
'me too, me too' Nap and I race off to the airport. As well zig zag
through Phnom Penh late at night, with everything closed for the night -
it felt like the whole city was staying good bye to me... good bye Phnom
Penh - it was sure nice to meet you.