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rus / eng

  

DANIELLE MURDOCH TRIP.     14 january - 7 october 2008.      26900km!!!                         RUS - ENG

 

THAILAND - LAOS - CAMBODIA - VIETNAM - CAMBODIA - KOREA - RUSSIA - MONGOLIA - RUSSIA

 

I am now in Phnom Penh - sorting out paper work. But that's another email......
 

 

I 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 turn
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 me.
 
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 hour.
 
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 as well)
 
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 shake my
finger.
 
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 completely
welcomed.
 
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 through it.
 
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 done
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 Frenches!


 

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 westerner.
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 is
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.

 

 

Danielle Murdoch 

 

THAILAND - LAOS - CAMBODIA - VIETNAM - CAMBODIA - KOREA - RUSSIA - MONGOLIA - RUSSIA

      

 

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