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holiday in cambodia…
January 16, 2009, 1:08 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

…where you’ll do what you’re told, a holiday in Cambodia, where the slum’s got so much soul! – Dead Kennedys

the first time i ever heard about cambodia was when i was 16 or so via the dead kennedys. i really had no idea what it was all about though, and assumed it was something to do with the vietnam war. wrong! well, lucky for us cambodia today ain’t what it used to be.  me and amy had an amazing time, and these days its probably the most laid back place anywhere. the terrible legacy of the khmer rouge’s blundering regime is evident by the lack of many older people – and the 100 mile stare in the eyes of some the old people who lived through it. it’s pretty scary to imagine the things they were probably subjected to during that time. despite the hell endured by the people of cambodia and the still very evident poverty, they are some of the most friendly, helpful awesome locals i’ve ever met anywhere, and the country really seems to be on the up. here are some of the highlights of our time there in december. we arrived in siem reap; home of angkor wat and tourist capital of the country. we spent the first day chilling around town…

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this future entrepeneur was probably not even 10, but she already spoke both english and japanese, and was doing her damndest to sell amy a pack of cambodian cigarettes for US$4. say no more…

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…and later we stumbled across these evil looking bastards.

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at a crocodile farm though, not in the markets.

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amy decided to go for a walk along outside the gated area, along the tops of the pit walls for a closer look. the crocs weren’t too interested in her though, sleeping all palms up like that. 

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the next morning at 5am, with about 95 bajillion other bleary eyed tourists, it was off to check out angkor wat. to coin a phrase, holy immense astounding shit. it was built around 1200AD as angkor king suryavarman’s state temple and capital city, angkor wat being the centre piece of the cluster of temples. originally a site of hindu worship, it was adopted in the 14th or 15th century by the khmer buddhists. nice of those hindus to share ay, but there’s really more than enough to go around, even in peak tourist season.

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yeah, dang. it was pretty cool having it all slowly appear before your eyes as the sun came up. 

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hehe. these two chunky, balding kung-fu assassins were suited up and posing for photos on the wat. i didn’t know that angkor wat was actually some kind of relevant location in the history of martial arts. that’s because IT ISN”T. everyone pisses and moans about peak tourist season, but its hard to beat for people-watching.

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hehe, again. amy made friends with the resident monkeys, even after the biggest one stole our mango. this little dude was pretty chill though. 

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…then it was on to the next temple, angkor thom.

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and finally on to ta promh.

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mad props to the khmer rouge and vietnamese army for all the bullet holes. gangsta.

the wat sites seemed to get more impressive as we went along. massive, ancient trees have really taken over at this place, busting down walls and leaving fridge size slabs of  wall strewn around like lego blocks. 

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trees this big…

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…amy not that big.

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this kid’s name was george and he wasn’t scared of no big trees. i was scared of him though, and the WWF should be too. 

we ran away from george screaming, and happened to stumble upon a little gap in a wall that led to an off limits area of ta promh! we were  on some indiana jones shit! it was pretty sweet being somewhere that wasn’t maintained and had some really interesting things that nobody else got to check out. 

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so yeah, if you get the chance to go and check angkor wat, best do that. it held my attention.

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this is what happens when your tuktuk driver is about 15, gets completely lost for half an hour or so (siem reap ain’t big either), and when you finally get to the place you were going, it’s closed. we went to the local as place across the road, got talking to the owner’s bro (his name sounded like softporn, hehe) and had a few beers. his mum’s the chef so we just asked to eat stuff they like, and they hooked us UP. big ol ‘sizzling plate of fish and watercress in some funky sauce, and frogs! these frogs amy’s tearing up tasted like chicken, but waaay better. big up to softporn and his mama at aboy’s in siem reap!

on the bus ride from siem reap to phnom penh, the rest stop cafe offered up some delicious local treats too. they also had a big plate of the things amy’s holding.

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tarantulicious! this beast was some kids pet, it was just hanging out on her t-shirt as she was trying to sell us postcards.

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then i held it and the punk arse thing sharted on my hand. cheers, bro.

on to phnom penh…

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so it seems cambodia could be the world record holder for ‘most people on a hondasupercub scooter every day’. these things are considered a family vehicle, or a work ute, or a semi-truck and trailer, it all depends how good a rider you are. we saw a family of 5 on one, looking like it was no stress at all, and a guy we know says 6 old people is the most he’s seen. banana man up there had nothing on the guy we saw carrying 3 double mattresses on a sketchy dirt road. respect!

on a different tip altogether, we found a flyer for a orphanage/english school in the ghetto part of phnom penh and decided to go out and say hi. it was pretty amazing, there was a wall-less hut acting as a classroom full of 30 or so super enthusiastic ghetto kids learning english when we arrived. we bought a stack of exercise books and pencils for them that day at the market, and they were pretty stoked about that. mr. samith (stage right) founded and runs the whole show, on a frayed shoestring budget. please donate some cash if you’re feeling flush…

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no more photos of phnom penh, amy had most of those and she lost her camera. sheeeeit! we only stayed there for a couple days and carried on down to kampot and kep on the south coast. on the bumpiest moshpit of a 4 hour bus ride EVER. i have never had whiplash from a bus ride before. awesome.

best use of a mercedes benz SUV goes to some sketchy cambodian politcal party headquarters…

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…but why would you bother with a benz when you have a big red six-wheel-drive beast truck parked in your carport. 

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cambodia has some skinny bony cows. or maybe new zealand has some good cow steroids?

in kampot we got some scooters and went for a mish into the boonies a bit. no helmets required…

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next, out to koh tonsay island for a night.

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sleepy amy and our dog-homey charlie. he was cool, in comparison to most of the dogs in kampot. they are still pretty wild and territorial, and like to hang out in packs at night and howl at the moon.

next on to kep, and a few of these. awesome cambodian beer thats hard to find even in cambodia.

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the locals preferred more naturally brewed beverages though.

there was a big boat racing festival on when we were in kep, and the most awesomely ghetto carnival was cranking too.

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that ferris wheel was going around just bit too fast for its vintage. 

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a sweet day was had, and when we got back to the hostel (it ruled) this fulla was waiting for us.

the next day it was off to vietnam by tuk-tuk, on the gnarliest road ever to lead to an international border. helmet kinda required.

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good morning vietnam!

if you’re ever unsure where you are, and all the ladies are wearing coolie hats, brightly coloured pantsuits and a cameltoe/wedgie/both, you’re probably in vietnam.

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my first real pho – it was meh. and we got charged appoximately 5 times the local price for it.

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if some lady behind some mountains of day-or-so-old stanking fish anuses hits you up to try some of it, DON’T. we’re not sure if it was this that caused it, but about 24hrs later me and amy had the meanest case of chundersharts ever. not fun.

anyway, our first glimpse of the mekong river was in chau doc at dusk. the light was crazy.

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amy hates coffee. usually. vietnamese coffee is reaaaally sweet, but strong too. she decided that it was pretty tasty, and the result was pretty interesting, something like an adolescent monkey on crack i think. the grin you see here didn’t leave her face for a few hours after.

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fuelled by enough coffee, we had look around can tho. cool town.

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apparently someone in vietnam has begun importing cars from rotorua. mean!

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and maybe some other mean as stuff from rotorua too, cher!

the signs in vietnam were so helpful. found the red light district…

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…and maybe a public toilet?  ok, enough bad jokes.

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…especially around this heavy hitter, or we might have gotten free tickets to the god damn GUN SHOW.

sorry bout the shitty photo of a photo, i felt a bit sketchy taking it but it was worthy. this was the man of the sweet little guesthouse we stayed at. never got to see or meet him on the real (cos we were stuck in bed, throwing up everywhere), probably cos he was off somewhere on a mercenary commando mission for an unmentionable international covert agency. when you think about it, rambo could be a vietnamese name ay?

can tho’s draw card is the floating markets. pretty cool, i had a boat to myself. amy was still clinging to the toilet bowl, and the shady scumbag who booked us the tour wouldn’t refund any of her money. not cool. anyway, i paid this fulla $5 to set his fighting cock on him.

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after coming in from cambodia – friendliest locals ever, the weird thing about vietnam was that most of the locals would just look at you like you just ran their dog over if you smiled or said hi in vietnamese or whatever. even the kids! mini-salesman here must have been instructed by salesmama to bust out a mean scowl if the stupid rich tourist doesn’t buy the warm beer at 7am, cos that’s what he did after this. stink buzz…

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all of a sudden we stopped off at a pho factory. low-fi and cool as hell.

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rice flour slurry gets wiped onto a screen, and steamed…

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…this lady takes the discs off and lays them on the drying racks…

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…and this fulla puts them out in the sun to dry. nice. then they get cut up into pho noodles and eaten by everyone and their mum…

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…probably with a few slices of one of these dudes. he looks pretty chill, considering.

then we headed up one of the smaller canals, to check out how the locals live it.

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(not really a local)

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this is a vietnamese guitar. do re mi fa so la ti? pretty sweet, the frets are all really concaved, so you can bend the note i guess. we saw this old dude wailing the shit out of one on the corner in town, awesome.

from can tho we headed to up to saigon. the mekong river is so wide that they still haven’t bothered with bridges. scooters on the ferry.

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and ducks in baskets on scooters on the ferry.

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ah yeah, they actually used this thing in the vietnam war. the blade weighs 50kg. fark.

saigon is apeshit. the traffic is like this during the day…

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…like this at night…

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and to cross the road, you have to just amble out into it and let everyone dodge you. it’s basically an extreme sport.

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the same logic extends to the communications infrastructure…

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…and random problem solving. nice.

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the parting shot. two pairs of hammered feet that walked around saigon in jandals for a day. yum.

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1 Comment so far
Leave a comment

Sweet photos mate – especailly like the ones of the toad and the ducks. Looks like a spectacular place, especially all the amazing food.

You were still right about Vietnam (and America)indirectly causing the Cambodian genocide though…well, South Vietnamese and American forces conducting a secret invasion and 4 years of American bombing along the border of Vietnam/Cambodia was a great recruiting tool for the nascent Khmer Rouge in 1970-73. It tore up the country and formented the situation that Saloth Sar exploited before changing his name to Pol Pot and instituting “Year Zero” and his other insane ultra-nationalistic policies that eventually led to The Killing Fields.

Comment by Chris




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