Cambodia's beaches here i come...

Trip Start Feb 28, 2012
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15
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Trip End Nov 22, 2012


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Where I stayed
neptune gh

Flag of Cambodia  , Koh Kong Province,
Thursday, April 12, 2012

KO, Koh Kong….hmmmmm… difficult to make out, its potentially good without really living up to it…. The main upside is that I am there for Cambodian New Year but I don't know if its been the food, the drinking, travel and bus journeys or come down to just being me but for about the next week I don’t feel 100%, if I eat I get stomach cramps, I keep getting headaches and just generally feel like I have a bug or something but without actually being sick an so this might well be why I say I am unsure about koh Kong as it may have just been that I felt under the weather there…

I found a place called Neptune, the cheapest in town, the room was $4 but was pretty scratty but I met a few westerners staying there which was good, a French woman with dreads in her 50’s who was looking to set up a business, an English guy who looked like an Indian guru with shaved head, big beard with pointy moustache and a guitar all the time and a guy called steve form Scotland who, until the last night seemed OK but on the last night he smoked one too many spliffs and acted a bit weird in front of everyone but I did meet Judith & Tibo – a very cool young couple from Belgium…. We were kinda forced in to teaming up for an island trip because on the same day I was cycling round every tour operator and fisherman on the coast, so were they and after speaking to them at first about possibly teaming up we kept bumping in to each other all day and then they were also staying at the same guesthouse. They were with another girl called Justine but I got on better with these 2 though Justine was nice but had a bit of Dorothy in her!

Judith and Thiabalt (Tiibo) were travelling for 9 months and were about 5 months in I think. The interesting thing they told me was that they had hitch hiked and trained all the way from home to where they were so from Belgium, if I remember rightly, they went through Romania, Bulgaria, turkey, iran, india, Burma and Thailand and maybe one or two other countries I had missed and more interestingly they said Iran was the best place they had been so far – everyone was  so friendly and they loved their own culture and for half the time they stayed at peoples houses they met like taxi drivers, shop owners etc as everyone asked them to come to eat and stay! So as my new route is possibly going to end in India Tibo suggests I do the same in reverse and go from Belgium to France, possibly see Pac in Paris too (tho Tibo didn’t suggest that, he doesn’t know Pac..obviously… and for those of you who don’t he is a friend from uni whos now back in paris) the take the eurostar to blighty… sounds great eh? He says you can get euro rail tickets which cover most of those European countries and if moneys tight you can travel fast and also maybe do couch surfing most of the way….

Judith & Tibo were like your typical, French style (my only comparison) cool young couple; he had big scruffy hair, fag hanging from his mouth but always chatty and upbeat and Judith very interesting, she had a great bucket list and just a grounded yet inquisitive view of life and the world… unfortunately I only had the one day with them and wasn’t tip top but will prob email and keep in touch with them…

So on my first day I took a bicycle from the guesthouse and at first went round all the tour places and harbor to try get over to Koh Kong island for day and with it being the first day of new year the whole town seemed in party mode, food stands and house fronts were full of people playing cards, music blasted out from some houses and as always, so did karaoke …. Badly too! All young kids had these cellophane bags they were filling with water and waiting at various road side points and attacking people on motorbikes with and all the teenagers were on their bike either speeding by to dodge attacks or going on raids! I saw one teenage girl get mobbed by about 20 male friends and had full bucket of water poured in her too – everyone was in really high spirits and it was good to be around. When it came to me on my bike passing a possible soaking, the kids were just typically polite and 9/10 times they would kind of ask if I wanted or minded soaking and id say its OK and then get a soaking, much to their delight though I only got hit once with talcum powder too but in that heat, I was hoping id get a few more soakings. This went on for about 5 or 6 days by the way, right on to sihanoukville…

Its Friday the blad de blah of April sometime…. And I have had a pretty lazy but good day… I have been in Sihanoukville for the past few days and so this will be the final catch up on the blog and probably the last post for Cambodia.... I am in my room as I type, I am sweltering as lately its been hot, around 40 degrees though not always sunny all day but just hot but I am literally melting away right now because of the almost daily electricity power cut they have here… it seems the town has grown but the electricity capacity hasn’t and come early evening, usually around 8pm the whole town goes dark but those with generators manage to keep running the main bars and restaurants but for me this means complete darkness apart from my candles but more importantly, no fan, and believe me, it makes a massive difference. Where I am now is down a dark road through a restaurant and there are about 4 dogs from the restaurant you drive through that go mental when you go through and you just think any minute they are gonna maul you but just have to keep walking and maybe shout or go to hit one, or mimic hitting one if they get too close and it seems to work though someone said they had bitten someone some time ago but its not just here its everywhere but the locals don’t bother at all and one word from them and most dogs shut up so maybe its just a case of learning the right shout? But just now I pulled up outside my room on my crappy scooter and a couple followed me growling but with my scooter running with headlamp on I could atleast see but then it started to shudder and I didn’t rev the throttle in time and it conked out, complete darkness with dogs growling for blood! I wacked it but luckily I heard some local voice shout something and walk past and the dogs shut up instantly so he must have been from the restaurant area but anyway, thanks god he was there….

I have been in this town a few days now…. But going back to Koh Kong, like I said it was a mixed bag… after finally finding a half decent price from local guy for the boat trip and having got his number to call later once I confirmed with the others that $60 between 5 was OK, I decided to have a bike around town and to look for the supposed beach on the mainland, so off I went and did about 20km until I turned down a wrong road trying to find the beach. There was a guy there who I asked and he spoke good English and said it was the next turn but that this road led to his father-in-laws house and fishing boat business and I could come and have a look so we looked round and he introduced me to his family and told me about the business. They basically repaired fishing boats at this time as it was end of season but they also did their own fishing with these huges underwater nets just out in the water where they stored, fed and grew fish to then sell to local markets or in Thailand for a better price and at the back they had these huge kind of swimming pool water areas, which looked a little like rain filled paddy fields but he said that they also grew fish in them… so I was thinking they must be loaded with all this business but to be honest they looked to live just like any other Cambodians and I wasn’t sure why though my guess is they started off small and/or poor, built up the business but just never forgot their early days. I have a photo of me with all the family but it was nice to meet them, see everything and all from just taking a wrong turn…

Just broke off for whats probably my sixth shower of the day to try cool down though they seem pointless as the minute you get out you simply start sweating again instantly, I feel like I know what its like to be slimed by slimmer from ghostbusters now….

Anyway, I finally found the beach but it was about to get dark so I knew where it was and how far incase I had a free day to go but decided to bike back and make plans for the island trip. When I got back I saw the Scottish guy and the 3 belgiums and agreed to all go but when we tried the number the guy had written down it turned out to be a wrong number but the guesthouse manager overheard and said we could join his group but have to bring our own food but the boat there and back would be $12 which seemed good so we agreed so I arranged to meet Justine at 6am to go to the market and get our own food for the island but next morning my alarm went off but its so quiet it didn’t wake me so she woke me and we set off for the food but when we got there we couldn’t find any prawns or any fresh seafood so we just bought veg, some fruit and some spaghetti too. The boat set off around 8:30am and took about 2 hours but it was a nice long tail boat and a steady sunny journey in and I spent half of it stretched across the width of the boat and snoozing after the early start I had…

When we arrived at the island, the local Cambodians on the trip were starting to cook straight away so we put off our walk and joined in as we needed to use their cooking equipment to cook our food which was just gonna be vegetable spaghetti but we added some mango and a little chilli sauce the locals leant us and used their stove to cook it but we had no plates, no cutlery or anything, I just assumed the guesthouse would have this but all the stuff was the local people groups stuff so we ended up all eating our measly, but actually quite tasty meal, straight from the pan and all using mango skins as like a grabber and needless to say it was a messy affair and the locals must have thought we

So after the meal we went to walk round the island but it was slow because it was all rocky and pretty dangerous so it was a slow walk seeing all these crabs, hermit crabs, small fish and the odd single washed up sandal but on the way back is when Tibo told me about the European route back I could take so for that alone the journey was worth while.

About pm we set off back and the return trip was great, I chatted with Judith most of the way and we had a great chat about everything really, plus she learnt me a few bits of French too but then  the sun started to set and the route back took us through the famous local mangroves and the views were amazing; I got some more pics of sunsets for you all!

Anyway, when back at the guesthouse I decided I wanted to do this Cardamom  Mountain 2 day trek for $35 where you trek for a day, stay in a homestay and then trek next day too, about 1000m up to see some amazing views too but next morning when I came to reception packed up and ready the guy just said that the guide had called and he and all his family had eaten crab and were ill but what he really meant was it was new year and he had got completely pissed and was so hungover he couldn’t do the trip…. So day ruined and worst of all it was a Sunday and still new year so nothing was running and whatever was would cost twice the price so I headed off to find a bus to Sihanoukville as I didn’t want to waste a day here and in this crappy room but all buses had set off early doors and the only option was a minibus for $20, pretty expensive since the bus would have been around $8 but with the prospect of a dull day in Koh Kong and the crap room I decide to just do it and get the journey done and get to a nice beachy location for the rest of the Cambodia trip so I took the minibus and actually got a good seat, at the back as usual but at the last minute two military guys got on and sat next to me, looking like commando’s dressed in full camouflage, boot laced shiny dock martin style boots, black cap and black shades.. the works but they spent the journey watching and laughing at todays bus DVD of choice; the usual sketch / comedy show they always show and which everyone in Cambodia finds really funny but to me just looks like the same 4 guys on stage singing the same comedy song to the same annoying tune every time… anyway, just as I thought I had hit lucky with the bus we pull up and everyone gets out and the driver points to a car and says that’s gonna take me in to Sihanoukville and so the driver ushers me in to the front seat which at first I worry about as the seat belt is a bit shoddy and the windscreen has more cracks in than, well something well cracked, and looked like the slightest bump would send the window crashing in but when we finally set off with me in the front and 2 in the back he drove pretty slow so It seemd ok but then I realized why he was driving so slow as he was on the lookout for pickups and every 500m we seemed to stop and one by one the car filled up, actually filled up is an understatement because at its fullest point I think there were about 13 people plus luggage in the car! Me the driver and usually someone sat next to the driver (he usually seemed to put the most attractive pickup in this position and seemed to reach over her for a lot of unnecessary gear changes!  On the back seat were about 7 or 8 people all sat on each others knees and again usually it seemed that the girls were to sit on other girls or if not guys knees, and finally there were about 4 people and luggage in the open back boot of the car…bizarre, but like I continually keep saying, these bizarre things happen all the time… I remember early on in Thailand reading this English story about a guy in Thailand going to chemist and seeing a guy sat by the front door putting together a shotgun with a screwdriver and he simply stepped over him and continued in to the chemist but it later dawned on him how bizarre it was but he was so used to seeing odd things like these so much that it just seemed so normal… I see what he meant now…
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