We're Never Coming Back

  email me at duncdafunc@gmail.com or check out my latest photos here

This is a Flickr badge showing public photos from dunc_da_func. Make your own badge here.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Day 287 - Phnom Penh, Cambodia

cambodia No one told me tuk-tuks were this much fun?

Its 8pm at night and we're dragging our backpacks out of the overcrowded luggage compartment of a bus and onto the dusty pavements of the capital of Cambodia. We're surrounded by 5 motorbike drivers, all calling out for our american dollars (the de facto currency here - its actually Riels). Sam's SO scared of motorbikes, so we need a taxi. But its not gonna happen - apparently, despite being the capital city of a country half the size of Germany, cabs are in serious short supply. EVERYONE takes a motorbike. with whatever size luggage you have, from a backpack to a wardrobe. Unless you're a tourist that is - then you take a tuk-tuk. Its late, we're tired from a 6 hour border-crossing journey, and a motorbike isn't an option. So we climb on board the motorbike-powered carriage, and zoom off through the streets of Phnom Penh. Its exhilarating.

Can I just say, even after just a few hours, that I bloody LOVE cambodia. Its great. And the tuk-tuk isn't the first thing that's exhilirating about Cambodia. In fact, the very first moment we set foot here was exciting. The border crossing was painfully slow, because Eve, who is officially a knob, had overstayed her visa in Vietnam and so had to bribe the guard with a tenner ("for drinks") to get through. But the crossing is decorated with two amazing buildings - a very vietnamese one, and a beautiful, ornate cambodian one on the other side. I couldn't stop staring at it.

And after 2 hours of vietnamese highway, we're suddenly bombing along unsealed roads, dirt tracks across the countryside, passing trucks carrying a hundred squashed-in passengers, stood at the back. The sun is setting and its blood red and cows wander into the street, moving only when the driver honks his horn under their noses. You even see the difference in the people. Its a darker skin colour here - noticable even after just a border crossing - a rich, warm dark brown. Beautiful. Although i'm not really into the dark skin colour - if you know what I mean. Right, No. I'm not racist. I just don't fancy dark skinned guys. Sorry. Or maybe I am racist. shit. maybe I AM racist. anyway.

After boarding a very suspect-looking boat and being barged across the Mekong river (the same one we visited in vietnam) we saw another side of Cambodia. Smiling, amazing, beautiful kids jumping at the bus windows, waving at us, trying to get our attention. Not begging or selling. Just waving. One of them had proper serious physical deformaties on his arms - i think just single fingers in place of his whole hands. Another girl had a missing arm. The others looked pretty normal although we couldn't see their legs. Quick moment of anguish for these dudes was surpassed as we disembark the boat and carry on, dirt-tracking our way to the capital.

And after the tuk-tuk ride to our hostel, set on a some floating platforms perched on the banks of a huge lake, we're having a drink and getting bitten by mosquitoes. Its beautiful and relaxed. Pitched down a filthy, rubbish-laden street with stray dogs everywhere and no street lighting, it really FEELS like the third world. The motorbike driving dudes have already offered me skunk a number of times, and half the hostel residents are spralled out on the sofas semi-comatose. Its nice.

But out bedroom is not. Ok, so I've become pretty hot at bargaining these days. Never was before - in fact, never even attempted it. Nowadays, if you say a price, I'll only pay half it. I drive a hard bargain. Or do i? We're offered the skankiest, sweatiest, most uncomfortable pit of a room ever. No air con, which you need desperately out here. Toilet in the corner of the room which drips noisely all night. And a mattress made out of foam - FOAM! It was so bad. I slept, for 4 nights, SO BADLY. Horrific. But its over now. We're offered it at 4 dollars a night - that's less than one pound each per night. I demand $2. He says no. I threaten to go to another hostel. he says fine. I walk off. He doesn't follow. I try for $3, but he says he can't budge. So I have to pay FULL PRICE for a room I hate. THAT... i hate.

That stuff aside, if you didn't know, Cambodia has been through SO MUCH SHIT in the last 40 years. I didn't know this. I knew there were landmines. and i knew they were involved in some part in the vietnam war. I was totally, completely, overwhelmingly unprepared for what has happened here. If you don't know what I'm talking about, I'll try and shed some light on it in the next couple of posts. But its been rough. Luckily, the people here smile ALL THE TIME. They're amazing. and its a pleasure to be here. But something tells me that this place AFFECTS people, and that maybe I won't come out the other side of it the same. we'll see...

Labels: , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home