Tuesday, 25 December 2012

...Cambodia Calling 13 - Final Farewell.

So today is my last day, pretty ironic it is also Christmas day. Merry Christmas guys, I hope each and everyone of you is doing something really special. As you've guessed from the title (well I least I hope you've guessed, if not then well, the less said about that...) this is the last posting from Cambodia. So sad. It's been such a wonderful journey and three months have seriously flown by. I've grown (I hope) as an individual, I have learnt to embrace the beauty in life and discard all the shit that I've carried around with me for the past God knows how many years. It's been a long journey but here I am, on the brink of a bigger adventure, the next chapter and who knows what it may hold but I hope I go into it bringing all the strength, power and love Cambodia has given me. I love this country, it has my heart and one day, hopefully, I will be able to come back and retrieve it.

I'm going to leave you on Christmas day with a list of all my favourite moments in Cambodia and maybe if you're lucky a few pictures to go with the story as well.

Things I love in no particular order:

- Tuk Tuks.
- Oliver.
- Angkor Famous. I don't think I will ever get two kick arse cocktails for $3 anywhere, ever again.Ever.
- Thidas house.
- All the wonderful people I've met.
- Sunrises.
- Sunsets. I really like sunsets.
- The stars at night.
- Waterfalls.
- Angkor beer.
- Cycling home at night.
- Davy the tailor. I think I will miss her the most.
- The revenge of Rabies road.
- Sitting up till the early hours of the morning chatting shit.
- The beautiful wonderful children from work and all the ones that smile as you pass on a bike. Or in my case stare at me like I'm some sort of alien.
- My room.
- Geckos!!!
- Cows.
- All the wonderful people in Cambodia.

So Merry Christmas one and all and I will see you in Thailand. Goodbye Cambodia, it's been an experience.

Big Cambodian Ocean Crossing Christmas love ya'll.

Sunday, 23 December 2012

...Cambodia Calling 12 - Battambang.

So last weekend a bunch of us decided to put on our adventurer hats and take a trip to Battambang - pronounced BattamBONG. Confusing yet utterly brilliant right? It's such a beautiful city, it reminded me a bit of Phnom Penh but it was a thousand times nicer. It still had a lot of the architecture that Phnom Penh has but it's not so busy and everything closes at 11pm. So if your looking for a raucous night out then Battambang isn't the city to do it in.

The adventure started the same way all adventures do - on a bus. This was my first ride on a big bus and to be honest it wasn't as scary as taking those bloody mini vans. I guess it's because 1.  the bus is a hell of a lot bigger then a mini van and 2. no one can really argue with a big bus, they just get out of the way instead. So we leave early in the morning, get picked up by the skanky mini van and dropped off in town to board our big one. The journey there wasn't too bad, the driver did decide to leave us for half an hour in a random town to do whatever important things he thought he needed to do in the middle of a shift. But hey,  I'm not complaining. When we do finally make it to our destination we get hounded by the tuk tuk drivers (so typical) and they all want you to do their tour (which we didn't, we took the one the hostel was offering which was cheaper) there was a creepy tuk tuk guy who didn't want to take us to our hostel because apparently the hostel didn't like him. Tough shit mate, you shouldn't have agreed to drive us there in the first place! He kept badgering us to let him take us around the town and once we got to the hostel he gave me his business card and told me to call him if we wanted a tour. Clearly I didn't.

We then settled in, had a yummy lunch and then jumped in our tuk tuk to our first adventurer stop - the bamboo train. The ride in the tuk tuk was a little bit long but we got to see a load of the countryside which was nice. Once we got to the bamboo train we were greeted by a really friendly police man who gave us his little spiel and showed us the direction we had to head in but whoa! Who did we happen to bump into? That's right, creepy tuk tuk man. He did not look happy to see us and muttered something under his breath and gave us all death stares. Oh well, never mind the bamboo train was calling us.

It was so cool, it is a platform made out of bamboo with a cut out bit for the engine and it all sits on metal wheels and the engine chugs it along the tracks, it looks like this:


After such a fun filled morning we then headed straight to the mountain to go do some hiking - in flip flops, again. We get there and lo and behold who is behind us? Creepy tuk tuk man! This is when it stopped being funny and a little bit scary...

There were so many pretty temples up the mountain, I took a picture of the inside of this one because I love the colours. The whole temple was decorated in the same bright colours and it was so beautiful to look at. Next came the killing caves and I didn't want to go in. It was such a strange experience, right before the opening of the cave, where the stairs were the air felt instantly cold. As is someone had sucked all the life out of it but when I took one step back it was hot again. That really unnerved me and yeah it may be me being a little superstitious but I've learnt to follow my gut and my gut said no, so I didn't go down to the base of the cave. I just stood on the stairs for what felt like forever and then left.

We then bumped into a few monks who we got chatting to. One asked me why my skin was so dark if I am from London, I just smiled and told him there are many different types of people in London with many different skin colours. I don't think my answer was a sufficient one cos looked at me like I was crazy... They showed us to the top of the mountain which was another long walk but it was absolutely beautiful - well worth the hike.

To round of the day we made it down to the bottom of the mountain to watch the fruit bats flying out of the cave at exactly 5.50pm, which is the time they all go hunting for insects etc, it was so cool and such a lovely end for the day and that's exactly what I'm going to end this blog with folks. It's a video (obviously...!) so please enjoy.

Big Ocean crossing love ya'll.

Monday, 17 December 2012

...Cambodia Calling 11 - Last Day at Work.

So Friday was my last day at work, which on one hand was brilliant and on the other hand it was really sad. It has been such a crazy 3 months, I've done so much, I've had good times and some not so good times. I counted down the days to the very last day and now it's been and gone I'm a little lost. My boss cried which was pretty weird, I wasn't sure what I could do about it so I just sort of stood there but when old people cry it makes me cry! Other then that I'm going to miss all my little kids and I don't think they fully understood that I won't be coming back. My big ones got it, I think, they all gave me such big hugs before they left and one of them made me little origami cranes, stars, love hearts and a giant ball/star. I was really touched, it must have taken her so long to make them all and I really appreciate it. Now the only problem is how to get it home! I don't want it to be crushed and I really want to hang it up when I get back so any suggestions on how to bring it home safely will be much appreciated!!

I took lots of pictures of my kids and of my way home from work. I managed to cycle and take pictures so I think my cycling has improved dramatically from the first day, seeing as on the first day I fell of my bike in the middle of traffic...oops! So this blog will be mainly pictures mi amigas, I hope you enjoy taking a look!

 Somnang with the little ones in the Kindergarten.

Me and the little ones - they are so cute!

Doorway of the pagoda that I cycle past everyday.

Full view of the pagoda. Such a beautiful place to cycle through.

My big kids and I. Going to miss their cheeky faces!

The second pagoda I cycle past at sunset.

Photo exhibition by Pablo Bartholomew. He's such a brilliant photographer go check him out online - do it now! 
 Cycling home.
 Roads don't look too busy but they were! At those times I thought it best to put my camera away and concentrate on not dying...
Oliver and I on our way home.
Approaching chocolate road.

So here you go! I hope you enjoy looking at the pictures and there will be many more to follow!

Big Ocean crossing love ya'll!

Sunday, 9 December 2012

...Cambodia Calling 10 - Landmines, Waterfalls and Another Farewell.

So it's been an eventful weekend fellow cyber trekkers. After a long week it was really nice to relax and go hang out at a waterfall. Again! Getting up at 6 in the morning after 4 hours sleep wasn't very nice but it was worth it.

After getting on the road we then had the option of stopping at the landmine museum which I was very happy about seeing as I had planned to go once I finished work, so that was a big bonus. It is such an inspirational place, the man who founded it and still runs it is called Aki Ra (totally thought of Japanese anime the first time I heard his name) and he is a former child soldier for the KR. He was trained to fight and to lay land mines around the Cambodia - Thai border. He defected from the KR when he was a teenager and joined the Vietnam army to fight back and after that he dedicated his life to removing all land mines in Cambodia and training other people to do it his way (which is the total crazy way, he uses a sharp stick, his hands and sometimes a wrench...). It is predicted he has removed over 50,000 land mines himself and the number is even more when you factor in all the ones he has removed with his team of over 1,000 dedicated land mine removal staff (which are mostly army guys whom he trains). Within the museum there is also a school for children who have been affected by land mines.

This is a case showing some of the land mines and the missiles that Aki Ra and his team have deactivated. There were so many different ones within that case and even more in the museum. Not everything they deactivate are land mines, if you look really closely you can see a few missiles as well.

After mooching around the museum we climb back into our mini van and continue our journey up to the waterfall. It was relatively pleasant, only the usual bumps and jiggles you get with a Cambodian road but then came the mountain. I was so scared, it was so steep I seriously thought we were going to roll backwards and off the mountain and never be seen again. The poor mini van kept groaning and at one point we all thought that it may be a good idea to just get out and walk! But the treacherous climb was worth it, the waterfall was absolutely beautiful.

 It's so purdy!! I couldn't hold back my excitement and decided to run into the water and then realised my mistake. The water was absolutely freezing. However this still didn't stop me from attempting to go behind the water and peek out like a little rabbit in a hole. That was even colder. I felt like I was hyperventilating, the water was cold, fast flowing and pounded on my head and my chest like nothing I've felt before, I only stayed behind there long enough to take a few pictures then I bailed. I'm such a smart girl! I don't think I'll be doing that again any time soon, I've learnt my lesson....

After lunch we went trekking in the forest up to the temple - trekking in sandals may I add, which is not a smart move especially when you are told not to step off the path because there may be poisonous snakes/spiders/plants lurking in the bushes waiting to cause you some serious damage - cheers jungle. But it's pretty hard to trek in the jungle/bush area with only sandals - I don't recommend it. If you know you're going trekking always, ALWAYS wear hiking boots. You don't want to accidentally slip, stumble off the path and into the eager, waiting clutches of a deadly poisonous snake. Hmmmm.

So all in all it was a good but exhausting day. I had a very good time chilling in freezing cold water (I decided to go in once more at the bottom, cos you know I obviously thought my body was impenetrable and the cold wouldn't affect me. It had absolutely nothing to do with the 5 beers I had previously drunk...) but I was ready to go home, get warm again and have some dinner. 

That night was the last night in Cambodia for Emily (DS), Emily (Spuddy) and Katie (KLS), they were heading to Thailand to spend Christmas on the beach! It was sad but I wasn't totally distraught this time, mainly because 1. we all live in England so it will be pretty easy to see each other again and 2. I'm seeing Emily (DS) at the end of Jan in Thailand for one last crazy night out before we both have to head home. I'm looking forward to it so much, she is such a crazy girl (in fact they all are) and I do really miss having my Brits around me but we will meet again. Like I always say it is never goodbye, it's an I'll see you later. Steph and Nina leave tomorrow *sigh* and then come Monday it will be Thirza, Kai and myself packing up but I won't be moving on (only to a hostel) and Thirza and Kai will go to join the Emily's and Katie in Thailand, Nina goes to spend Christmas with her family and Steph goes to join her boyfriend in Australia. I'm going to miss them, Siem Reap won't be the same without them. I'll try my best not to cry but I can't promise anything. We have planned a massive get together next year, so I am very much looking forward to that.

But for now I'm going to go and have some lunch before I head back to work - oh did I mention I only have 3 AND A HALF MORE DAYS TO GO???!!! I cannot bloody wait. I'm going to SLEEP without the constant barking of those bloody dogs, the cats humping and the building work starting at 5 in the morning! Wooooooo!

Big Ocean crossing love ya'll.

P.S I forgot to mention I finally got me some of this:

It tasted AMAZING.