Thursday, 25 April 2013

Sihanokville & Koh Rong

We're thinking of renting bikes and going around Cambodia. But to go to Sihanokville is just one way there and 1 way back, maybe we'll rent bikes later. We took a bus, and thank god we did that, as this is the most dangerous highway in SE Asia. It's only 1 lane and oncoming trucks/buses don't really care for motorcycles, chasing them out of the way.
We paid $4 for the tuk-tuk when it should've been $1, again, it's very hard to know where we are when we just arrive. I thought that we're close, because I saw road signs pointing to the city center, but it was really hard to bargain with them, we barely negotiated $4 instead of $5. Oh well ... We had the most awesome shake for the dinner ... another "the most awesome!". How can you compare when they all score 10+?? Then had mixed seafood plate with 2 big shrimps, squid, fish, grilled potato  garlic bread and salad for $3. I love this place! Sometimes you come to a place where for some reason everything's cheap, like Vang Vieng in Laos. Sihanokville is the party place of Cambodia, Vang Vieng is the party place of Laos, are all party places cheap?
On the beach there are tons of restaurants with satellite chairs, all pretty much serving the same thing. It's relaxing and nice to sit there right on the sand with water splashing a few feet from you, but during the day, the beach is lost. They don't remove these chairs, and all the rubbish of plastic bags, bottles, cigarette butts dominate the beach. The water looks ok, just I don't feel like going in. It's also not relaxing to walk along the beach because every restaurant will stop you and will tell you to look at their menu sometimes blocking your way or walking very slowly in front of you to intentionally slow you down. Very annoying!
On the way back stopped when 2 guys gave us a flier for "buy 1 get 1 free" drinks. It was still early and we just talked to them instead. A lot of restaurants and mostly bars hire Western staff to work for a few hours a night for free booze, food and accommodation.  The Western people scare the other Westerners less and actually know what it takes to sell us anything, instead of surrounding us and shoving all the products in our faces without a chance to escape. They also know English and don't have the need of things to be repeated to them 10 times. We started talking to these guys who ended up giving us free drinks. Things that I learned from them is that in Vegas if you have big boobs you can earn $100K/year just by serving drinks :) and the other guy worked in Iraq for an American company in their base for 3 years. He said that he couldn't get out of the the base. Isn't it boring I asked him. He said that the base is huge. To drive around the perimeter takes about 4 hours! Holy ***! And there are a few bases in there. Did they just come to Iraq and declared the whole country to be an American base?
We stuck around and got free shots all night long. I couldn't even count how many, 6, 7, 8? No idea! I even practiced my pole dancing moves ... sadly I forgot most of them :)
Next day did nothing ... well, it's not entirely true. I read "The alchemist". It's about time! I've heard so much about this book for years and never got a chance. What a surprise was it that the guy from Iraq said that it's his favourite book, and the next day Penny pulled it out of her backpack. The book is filled with ideas that make you think and think some more. Simple ideas that make you stop and re-evaluate all your life, remembering experiences and thinking if I've made right decisions, thinking how my life would've been different if I had been more courageous back then. It talks about following and listening to your heart, that you can learn everything from the simplest things, you should open your eyes, trust in yourself, learn the unspoken language between people and animals, that love has no limits and that you should fulfill your live's purpose above all else.
It's Sunday, and all bars decide to have free drinks for happy hour. I don't think they thought it through though because there are 4 main bars all having happy hour at different times. One is from 10-11, another one from 10:30-11:30, another one from 11-12, another one from 12-2. So none of them are keeping any customers or make any money cause people come for a free drink and go to the next bar. With all the free drinks, and others not costing more than a dollar and heaps of workers, it makes me think if they make any money at all.
Next day woke up early to go to an island and scuba dive. High season is coming. 2 weeks ago the boat to the island was $10, now it's $20. 2 weeks ago 2 dives were $30, now they're $65. It's supposed to be a very good diving location because Cambodian reefs are mostly untouched due to lack of tourism. We don't know anything about the island and when we arrived, we were happy to see that it only has 6 guest houses. There are no tuk tuks, there is no hassle. The beaches are long, white, clean and puffy, and the only sound that disturbs peace are playing children. In the evenings all the restaurants put candles out and bbq the catch of the day, and there are more stars in the sky that you can count through the night.
The dive was alright. It was the longest time we've stayed under water. First time was 72 minutes, next dive was an hour. The reef was shallow, only maximum of 6 meters. I was a bit disappointed. What's the point of diving? You can snorkel here no problem. Last time I dove when I did my open water in Mozambique, and since then 1.5 years have passed. Wow, time flies! I forgot how to connect the BCD, how to wear it, how to jump in the water, pretty much I forgot everything except that when you go down, you should equalize, and how to find the breathing thingi if it accidentally falls out. So I remember the most important stuff, the rest I'll figure out once I'm under. I almost was making my big stride into the water when the instructor in the last second inflates my BCD, otherwise I would've just started sinking which would've led to a little bit of confusion :S The reef was ok. Mozambique was of course so much better. But to see the reef you have to fly hell knows where, then take a 10 hour chicken bus and risk the chance of getting malaria. But then you'll see one of the best reefs in the world. To get here is easy, it's cheap, so the reef won't be as good. It only makes sense! :) However, I did see huge vase like corals, cuttlefish protecting it's babies waving it's mustache thingis at us. Cattle fish is so cool, it's like a chameleon  At first I didn't even see it, it looked so much like a rock, then it started swimming and in a second it turned into the color of the sand. I found 2 crabs living in the big shells, and blue spotted rays digging themselves into the sand. The visibility was very bad though, maybe only 5 meters. When we were supposed to go up, I saw a ray swimming near me, I turned around and zoomed in it's direction, hovering right above him when he chilled on the sand. I turned around and saw no one. Oh oh, but I swam in the opposite direction and soon found them not too far away. Sucks to dive with low visibility.
Back on the island, Penny wasn't in the room and she didn't leave the key. I started walking along the beach hoping to find her. I walked into the bars on the way but she was no where. Walking and walking, I decided to use the language of the earth (from "the secret" and from "the alchemist") and send her a signal that I'm looking for her. At that moment a girl in front of me stopped and took a picture of the sun going down which was behind me. Weird I thought, that would be a very dark shot, but nevertheless I stopped and turned around to see what she's taking a picture of, and there was Penny walking maybe 100 meters behind me waving her arms. Coooooooool :) Maybe it was her who sent me the signal ...
In the night when it was dark and all the stars came out, we were walking along the beach and then I noticed sparkles. What is it sparkling? Apparently it's the krill, sparkling for an unknown reason when they're getting disturbed. With each wave or with each splash that I made in the water yellowish-green dots would light up. When I was looking up at the shooting star, a bigger wave collapsed (the ocean is flat like a lake now) and Penny was screaming. She said that the whole wave just turned luminous rotating green. Best sparkles I've ever seen in my life. Today I'm thinking to go swim with them :)
In the morning in the guest house someone pointed out the big black cloud in the water, and suddenly there was a huge excitement and havoc around. Within a minute a net was found and 4 people were in the water surrounding the black cloud. When they took the net out, I went over for a look. It was a pinkish mass of something. Are these weeds? I couldn't figure out what it was. I took a little bit of it, and it was hundreds of thousands of these little plankton  The ones that illuminate the waters. That's why the visibility is so low! Does that mean there are wale sharks around?? They washed it, and laid it in the sun to dry out. I wonder what they'll do with it and if it will be on tonight's dinner menu :)
We're almost a week here, and we don't want to go anywhere. The day goes pretty much like that: wake up around 10, have a fruit salad or a fruit shake for breakfast, go to the monkey island bar to chat with other people, read and surf the internet and have lunch, lie on the beach, talk to more people, play volleyball, work out a little bit, have dinner, play cards, find new people to talk to, have happy hour cocktails and go to sleep between 12-2. And nope, we don't feel bored. After one week my black circles under the eyes have disappeared, and I finally look like myself again. This is paradise, except for the sand flies. I have about 30 bites and they itch like crazy, so now I'm scared to sit on the beach. There are only 6 guest houses in here, so you constantly bump into the same people and it's very easy to strike a conversation. One day we went hiking, we hired a guide, an Israeli guy who lives here for 4 years already, and went to the other side of the island up the mountain through the jungle. So many times I go to the jungle, and every time I promise myself that it will be the last time. I just don't like jungles. I love the roads that go between them, and you just sit and watch all the greenery around you, but to be inside one is no fun ... at least for me. Maybe if there were any animals in it, it would be funner, but all you see is green green and more green, you have to watch out for bugs and snakes, see that the branches don't poke your eyes out, look out for plants with thorns, and most of the time you look down anyways so you won't trip and fall. In short, it's long, hard, slippery, muddy, humid, with usually a bunch of mosquitoes and leeches and I hate it! I didn't like the guide either, he had the "know it all" attitude which pissed me off. I didn't even talk, let Penny do all the talking. Anything she said would be finished with "no, it's not this way", "the other way is better", "no, it won't grow in here", "you have to do it this way", grrrr! I was so tired when we got back, but we still had dinner and drinks. I went to sleep around 12, but Penny went out. At 3am, she woke up the whole guesthouse knocking on the door and yelling "Yana, Yana, wake up!!!", everybody woke up except me, and only when flash lights were shining through the window I jumped off the bed in panic thinking someone is invading the room :)
Penny and I have fun nights together. I started reading "First they killed my father" book, which is HIGHLY recommended, a real story told by a girl who survived the Khmer Rouge genocide, and for a few days while I was reading it, I had nightmares. Once I woke up (inside the dream) and saw the room and a whistle floating through the air. In an instant I took my pillow and threw it with all my strength at Penny to wake her up (that was in real life :) ) who got freaked out, and didn't really care about my ghost stories. Also we have a rat living somewhere on the roof. I'm feeling a bit uneasy falling asleep, what if it will chew through the mosquito net and bite me. In the middle of the night something soft brushes my arm, right away I wake up, and I'm thinking that I need to know if it's Penny or the rat. I extend my hand to see if Penny got too close to me, and it was her hair that brushed against my arm. I touch Penny's head, satisfied that it was indeed her, and at the same second Penny jumps off the bed, takes a flash light and crazy-ly starts to shine all over the room while I'm laughing and telling her to calm down :)
We're leaving the island :( Nooooooo!!!! An hour before our departure we go into our favourite monkey island restaurant to have breakfast. The restaurant was busy, and 40 minutes later we were served. I look at my watch, we have 20 minutes to eat it, check out and get to the boat. I don't think we'll make it I tell Penny. We don't tell the waiters to serve us quicker, we do not ask for a doggy bag, we calmly eat the breakfast, no one stressed ... ok, I guess we'll leave tomorrow then :)
I came back to Phnom Phen because I have to apply for Thailand visa. I went to the embassy, and I didn't have any documents that they require. They ask for the flight ticket in and out, I tell them that I'll go in and out by the bus. They tell me to show them hotel reservations, I tell them that I'll be in Thailand for 2 months, what do they want reservations for Bangkok, Chang Mai, Chang Rai, Pai, Kho Tao, Puket, that's just unreal. They tell me to show a bank statement. I go to an internet cafe, and for some reason my account doesn't have statements. I just printed out account balance without my name on it. Hopefully it will work! Fingers crossed! :)
When I went to book a bus ticket, the agent was very helpful and nice, and we ended up chatting for an hour or so. She said that before she used to do business with India but no more. They're so rude she said. I send them to 5 star resorts and nothing is good enough for them. All they do is complain and treat people like shit. Once it was raining, they came back with their muddy shoes, threw them down and told the bellboy to clean them. The agent tells me, this is not India, they cannot treat people like that in here!
I had the whole day with nothing to do and to escape from the midday heat I went to the mall to watch a movie. Hotel Transylvania in 3D. It's very cute, but not really interesting. I bought popcorn and they escorted me to my seat. Then I went to a supermarket, and could not believe my eyes. Quite a lot of people buying products with outrageous Western prices. I mean, it's ok for foreign food and you can buy everything at once, but fresh produce? It's bad quality, it's expensive, why why why won't they just go to the market?? I just bought a shampoo, and they gave me a bag for it. SE Asia is very bad for waste. They don't understand what plastic does to environment. Every time they do it, I tell them, "No bag, it's bad for the environment". They would serve a drink in a plastic cup with a plastic lid with a plastic straw with a plastic cover and would put it in a plastic bag. Whenever I see that my heart is crying. They give you a small ticket in an envelope. On the bus they served a small water bottle each in a plastic bag. I don't get it!


  1. Yana

    It sounds like paradise there and looks wonderful.
    It must be so hard to leave.


  2. я попыталась представить себе эти светящиеся волны, никогда такого не видела!! это должно быть завораживающее зрелище!! ага, ты тоже, как и я, ненавидишь джунгли:) помнишь, как мы на Рейлей полезли на какую-то гору, и нас облепили комары, и у меня началась истерика:) это были не совсем джунгли, но, наверное, что-то похожее:) я помню Евино письмо про ее путешествие по джунглям Амазонки, нет-нет, джунгли только в телевизоре:)

  3. Thanks for the update. I’ve enjoyed keeping up with you.