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Entries about cambodia

The three day thing

As this Chapter nears its end.

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It’s been six months since I left Mexico City. Two of those I've been in South East Asia.
As I approached Kuala Lumpur a fourth time, I felt as unready and lost as that first time, six months before. I still don’t know what lies ahead of me. My map is still covered in fog. I cannot see clearly anything past a few weeks, and anything beyond three months is so blurry as to be a waste of time even trying to fathom it.
If all had gone according to plan, I would still be sailing, marveling at the ocean’s vastness and the beauty of islands and sea. It would have been a great time, I know, just a completely different experience to what I've had.
During this two months in Asia I have journeyed here and there, catching barely a glimpse of what the region has to offer. Someday I’ll come back. And in the rainy season too! There is just too much that stayed beyond the horizon this time. Laos, Vietnam, Myanmar, and the North of Thailand. And that’s without looking South. But I am now to enter the silence, to digest all that’s taken place in the last weeks and months. To let sink all the smiles, all the kisses, the hellos and goodbyes.

I've been doing the three day thing this past weeks. Days merged into one, and it felt like I spent more time in vehicles and walking to the next place than actually there. After leaving Angkor and Siem Reap, I passed through Kampot, Kep, Phnom Phen, Sihanoukville and Koh Rong. I kept going deeper into Cambodia, but didn't find the kind of effortless belonging of those early days in Siem Reap…

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I spent a grand total of two days in Koh Rong. It’s a nice yet difficult place to explain… The only reason I went to there in the first place was because I read online that the island was beautiful, yet cheap, and that I could find 1$ dorms. This is not so. The cheapest dorm, at least this season, is 7$, escalating all the way to 60$ thatch bungalows and treehouses. It is not a cheap island. Having said that, it is a gorgeous place, and the people are great. Hippies, locals and expats, most understood my situation as a confused and broke traveler and were very sympathetic. ‘If you want anything cheaper than 7$, you´re gonna have to work for it’ they said. It took less than an hour after setting foot on that pier to get a place to stay. I spent the next two nights on the furthermost point of 4K Beach, a 40 min walk away from town. All they needed was someone to be there, so the place would never be completely alone. So I had a tent, noodles, beer, soft drinks, and red bull in exchange for just being there and keeping an eye over everything; for hanging out on the beach and selling the occasional beer. Basically for doing nothing. Heck I cleaned the place up, even raked the sand and burnt some leaves just to feel productive. It was great. I could have stayed there for days, weeks even... So then I left in the morning. After having camped, danced, walked at night in the jungle and swum in the dreamlike, shiny, phosphorescent blue sea… It just could not get any better than that. Not there. So Bangkok, Padang Besar, Langkawi and Penang soon passed under my feet. And then I was back in KL, back at the beginning.

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Here are some things I've experienced in the last days/weeks:

Stay away from rocky outcroppings, or be ready to limp for a couple of days.

Even small coral can be very sharp, and cuts on the sole of the feet are very, very uncomfortable. Noted, learned.

Sometimes the $1 dorms are amazing and awesome. Other times they mean bedbugs. Flip a coin.

In Siem Reap I stayed at the Garden Village Guesthouse. It was awesome. I made friends and got great memories from there.
In Sihanoukville I stayed at the Utopia Hostel. Don’t stay there. Don’t go anywhere near that place. Just don’t.

Send messages to strangers. Couchsurf. Say yes.

When last I was in Bangkok I contacted on Facebook a girl who lives there. Turns out they have a spare room they are trying to set as a small B&B, so I stayed with Alexander and Abigail for 3 nights, with Petrina meeting me there. It was awesome![/b][/center]

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Wine is best after not having any for months. Even more if it’s free.

One of the nice things of meeting locals (as in people who live there) is that they tend to know what’s going on. And that might just be the anniversary party of a nice, hip bar. I hadn’t had any wine in six months.

Travel with someone. Separate. Meet them again.

We met in KL that first week, then again after our sailing adventures. Now we coincided in Bangkok a third time. We could exchange stories from the time apart, and had someone for a few days we didn't have to introduce each other to, rather build on the friendship. It’s a great relief!

When crossing borders, double check the local time zone.

When Petrina and I arrived in Padang Besar, Malaysia, neither of us bothered to check the local time. As such, we missed the last bus out and got stranded there. Nothing wrong with the place, it’s just not somewhere you want to stay in for longer than necessary.

Smile.

I smiled at a girl in Siam Reap. Our eyes and smiles met again in Kampot. Fancy to meet again, and sharing a cab with her and her brother, in Padang Besar, all the way to Langkawi. Then going out drinking with them in Penang. Who knows, maybe I’ll see her again in KL. Or in Germany someday!

Help someone.

I met a somewhat lost Australian waiting for the bus. I guided her to where she wanted to go, and stuck with her the rest of the day. A nervous little thing, she would have never eaten in the indian restaurant I took her to, nor ridden the bus all the way to the Kek Lok Sie temple. The thing is, I was ready to let the temple pass, but it is one of the best places Penang has to offer. It is beautiful, and its commanding view of the city, gorgeous. I would have missed out greatly and wouldn't even know it. I still don't know who helped out the other more.

This is not Kek Lok Sie Temple. I very smartly forgot the camera battery.

This is not Kek Lok Sie Temple. I very smartly forgot the camera battery.


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And now I ready to enter the silence. It’s the last adventure in SE Asia for now, and one that’s been long overdue. I've wanted to take part on a Vipassana meditation course for months now, but somehow it didn't work out before now. Most of the centers open for applications several months prior to the course, and it’s been a while since I've known where I’ll be so long in advance… But this time all is set, and I’ll be there for ten days, away from everything, in a new experience. I've never done extended sitting meditation, so I’m not quite sure what to expect. But I feel it will be great.
So, world, see you after the retreat!

Posted by Zaspirucho 22:38 Archived in Malaysia Tagged kuala_lumpur food ocean nature beach travel cambodia meditation malaysia city island beautiful paradise camping asia koh nomad learning Comments (0)

Temples, tuk-tuks and friends

Finding more than I was expecting from Cambodia

sunny 25 °C
View Liberty Goes East on Zaspirucho's travel map.

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If you want to see the whole world, stay no longer than three days at a place. It's not just me says it. I first heard the concept in the Kino’s Journey series (Kino no tabi anime). But in Europe I put it into practice and realized its wisdom. The thing is, if you stay any longer than that in a place, you will start building bonds, maybe even leaving a piece of your heart behind you. That is if you manage to leave. So when I got to Siem Reap I paid for three nights. Immediately though, I was surprised by the laid back atmosphere, and by the ease with which I could meet people… After Ko Phangan and Bangkok, the vibe felt very different. I can see why people keep coming back to this place, even staying some of them.
101_1355.jpgThe traveler fears not loneliness. Still it's better to have someone to share the moment with.

The traveler fears not loneliness. Still it's better to have someone to share the moment with.


Already since the train to Cambodia I had met an Australian girl, Jo. We shared the tuk-tuk to the border and did immigration together. Having read extensively about the scams that surround that border crossing, we were wary and distrusting. And sure thing, the driver brought us to a “Visa agency” just outside the official buildings. But we just shrugged them off and made the last blocks on foot, knowing we’d get the visa on arrival at the actual border.
Once there, if you have not completed your e-Visa application form in advance, you must first head to the passport control and pay your fee. It is 20$ for the regular one month tourist visa, and you must provide them with a passport sized photo. That is, unless you lose your photos somewhere in the black hole that your backpack has become. Then you must pay an additional one dollar. Or, like in our case, five dollars. Why? Because give me your passport and shut up. That's why.
So we were slightly suspicious when, after the 3 hour bus ride from the border to Siem Reap, they said we could have a free tuk-tuk ride to our hotels. Nothing is free, we thought... But sometimes, it turns out, rides are included in the bus price. The only catch is that your driver will offer to be your official Angkor ride. Which is great if you want to be taken there, I guess--but I’d rather bike myself there, thank you.
101_1500.jpgIt's a good place to bike around!

It's a good place to bike around!


I knew half the name of a hostel to stay in, and Jo had no set plans or bookings, or any idea really, so we made our way to the Garden Village Guesthouse. It is a great place that caters to any budget, from the 1$ khmer style bunks, to 30$ AC bungalows. So we settled in, and before I knew it, we’d met Tyson the musician. I congratulated him on his moustache (not anyone can pull it off as he does!) and invited him to go get some live music, since I'd learned of some couchsurfers that were playing in a bar a couple streets away. It’s funny how things turn out. Tyson brought his accordion with him and joined in for the last tunes. Next day they performed together on a rooftop bar, and on the third morning they recorded some music and a video at Angkor during sunrise. A couple of days later they left to some other musician’s house in a village, somewhere in Cambodia. All because I invited a stranger to go get some music.
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In such a manner have the days passed. One day I biked to the Angkor temples with Tyson and Jo. Another day I went there again by myself, to later come back to the Giant Puppet Parade, based and organized in Siem Reap and made by local children... Days fuse together. Between the meeting of people and the long conversations, I have found myself to be here in the company of equals. Odd figures all, people that could, but rather not blend in. Travelers, artists, and philosophers of the road. Somehow the three days became six, then ten. But it is now time to move on. Tomorrow I shall visit Angkor for one last time, and then hop on a night bus to some other place.
101_1529.jpgIt's been a good one!

It's been a good one!


From all these conversations, my internet foragings, and by the amount of time spent in silent thought, some semblance of a plan has risen. There is the possibility of work in Italy and France, and maybe in Denmark or the Netherlands. Yet the main realization of this past few weeks is that I have no intention of returning to Mexico. I wish to continue with my education though, so I seek to enroll in a Masters course in the Open University. It is an Online programme, so I’ll be able to work, study and travel, all at the same time.

Lets do this!

Lets do this!


I feel like I’ve been somewhat passive with my learning this last couple of years; waiting for my professors to assign me a task, or to give me the opportunity to prove myself. As such, I’ve been stuck in the same place for three years already. It’s about time I move on, continue looking forward. And since the web is brimming with free learning tools and resources, I intend to overload my brain in the coming months. Something good shall come of it, I can guarantee it. At the very least, I’ll have more think about during those flights and train rides. And there will be lots to read and write. So lets see how this adventure evolves!

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Thanks for reading!

Posted by Zaspirucho 00:18 Archived in Cambodia Tagged travel cambodia siem_reap friends angkor music hostel parade online stranger scam study puppets learning Comments (2)

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