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Sunday, January 8, 2012

THE FAMOUS ZOO VIDEOS

KAMPOT CLOSING NOTES

I went to a carnival at Kampot. It was the kind of thing locals did. I know Cambodia is a dirt poor country but I really did think that it would be better than it was. I figured there would be some troop which went around to provide entertainment to the local villages like in the old days of the USA.

This was amazingly bad by any standards. There were two rides. A merry go round and a Ferris wheel. The Ferris wheel was powered by diesel. People got crammed into the cars, spun about at double or triple the speed of a normal Ferris wheel then off loaded. I was baffled as I heard shrieks from it. The day to day traffic is more dangerous - even considering the poor state of repair of the Ferris wheel. I was also baffled that as many people stood around watching it as were crammed into it. The merry go round was the standard fare, nothing to write home about. There were only two games you could play. They exactly the same - throw the darts at the balloons to win prizes. The prizes even looked the same. There were no 'throw the rings over the bottle' games or anything like that. A carnival like I'd seen in the Czech Republic would have blown people's minds and perhaps given them something to talk about for generations.

This went on at the same time as the celebration of the end of the Khmer Rouge. They shot off some fireworks. I was impressed with some of them. Though the show was pretty brief, they did have some very big explosions with a lot of nifty lights I got to watch from the balcony of where I was staying.

Since I was starting to get bored of Kampot - it is a very small town - I figured I'd spend $5 and two and a half hours to go to Sihanoukville.



SIHANOUKVILLE

Pronounced a bit like a badly said 'scenic ville'. Maybe that's how it was named. The rooms are so so on the price. Despite a lot of signs that promise $5 per night rooms, the rooms are actually $10 on up. I've managed to find one for eight on the second try. I didn't like the first one because the walls were thin enough that I got to listen to some asshole's TV all night. If I'm paying for a private room, I'd like a bit more privacy. The people at the first place didn't even want me to leave till they'd checked the room. I figured it was shakedown time and they'd try to charge me for the blood on the bed sheets caused by the mosquito bites I'd gotten on my legs while I slept. Fortunately, that didn't happen so I escaped.

S-ville is very much on the 'hippy backpacker trail' - the whole area is infested with dirty hippies.

There are quite a few older sun worshipers who have tanned themselves to a dark mahogany - but have guts like mine. I'm not sure what the point is. Years ago I tried to figure out why a group of grossly overweight women spent so much time and money on shoes when losing a large amount of kilos would have been the logical place to start. I was told "It's easier - duh!" Duh indeed.

S-ville is divided into three parts. You can get to all of them by energetic walking or pay a dollar to go to the next closest one with some serious haggling. I've dubbed the three parts of town 'Victory hill', 'downtown' and 'dirty hippy beach'. The official guide books probably show a different name. Honestly, unless you are here to try to get a good case of skin cancer, there isn't a lot here other than the tourist ghettos.

Note that I am using 'ghetto' in the pre-1930's usage. It refers to an area where all people of a certain type (in this case, tourists) conjugate.

Personally, I like having some tourist ghettos around. They provide everything I need for living. A slew of cheap places to stay as well as restaurants serving my choice of Khmer (Cambodian) or non- food.

I am frequently walking in to explore other parts of the towns where Cambodians live but they are much the same. There are a few nice houses protected by walls and barbed wire in which the wealthy live and there are a lot of ramshackle buildings made from corrugated steel or whatever fell to hand where the rest of the population lives. There are occasional statues and temples. Once you've seen it enough, it all starts to look the same.

Victory Hill is the place to stay. It would have been the first place I'd have gone but I didn't have a map and even with English translators the people I'd hired to drive me just didn't seem to get it. I'd initially ended up on 'dirty hippy beach' and had to migrate over to Victory Hill after I'd purchased a map so I could point at what I wanted.

There's a lot of dirt roads, roads without streetlights (did you pack your flashlight?), wandering cows and dogs which may or may not belong to anyone, restaurants, whores, massage parlors, drug dealers (mostly the tuk tuk and moto drivers), tattoo parlors and guesthouses. There are also a lot of tuk tuk and moto drivers desperate for money. They have an odd belief that if they are annoying enough, you will suddenly realize you need to pay them money to drive you around. I guess it's the only thing they can do to try to fight their poverty. And it beats other jobs apparently. I can't think of any reason why there are so many of them lounging around in the shade unless it is that this work pays better.

There are also strange yet disappointing things you can get here. I went to 'King Fried Chicken' (a weird looking chicken chain) and saw they had a 'coke float'. It was eighty cents so I figured I'd try one. I'm not sure what the 'float' part was. That usually means ice cream. There didn't seem to be any - just ice. Ice, for those who haven't been reading, is bad and may result on you sitting on the toilet for a day or two remembering that fact. I tried it and left most of it. There are a lot of things which are promising (like oven baked lasagna with authentic taste made by a foreigner) but when you have it, you are often disappointed. Stick to the simple and cheap foods when you can. That way, even if you are disappointed, you only paid $2 for your meal and can move on with your life.

I did find a place that is $10 with air conditioner, fridge and hot water but the room is a lot smaller than where I am currently. I figured I'm happy enough where I am. I'm not going to be here all that long so I may as well stay put.



CAMBODIA

I had looked for an interesting place to go within Cambodia which had a higher elevation. I am sweating my balls off in the lowlands. I didn't find one. I've read and heard that Cambodia has only two months of 'high season' - when all of the tourists come. I am smack dab in the middle of it. Tourists don't come the other months because the climate is worse. I'm having difficulty imagining it hotter than it is. The noon till five PM siestas cut down on my wander around time as it is. I understand why Tonto says he spends his daylight hours indoors.

I'm planning on staying within Cambodia until my visa gets near to running out, close to the end of the month. For the last couple weeks here, I'm going to go to Phnom Penh to stalk the Indian embassy to see if they can give me some help. I dislike having to go further away by five hours from the Thai border to hit the Indian Embassy but it's the only option I have unless I want to go straight to Bangkok to try that one. Fortunately, it is only $5 each way to and from PP by bus.



FUTURE PLANS

Well, even though Americans can get a 10 year visa from India, there is no 'visa on arrival' set up for them. Hence, I'm going to need to see if I can wrangle a visa from either their embassy at Phnom Penh (Cambodia) or Bangkok (Thailand). I'm wanting to try to get it done while I'm here in Cambodia. If I enter Thailand overland, I'd be limited to the two week visa and I don't know how long Embassy games will take. Just to make it a bit more complicated, India has outsourced their visa stuff and you're suppose to go through some company to get it done probably with lots of extra fees and hassles. According to Travelwiki, you can get it done in Bangkok for an extra $12 'referral fee' (bribe). If I have to go there, that's fine. I'm going to end up flying out of there anyway. It's looking like for $110 or so, I can get an AirAsia flight to India out of there. I wanted to purchase my ticket ahead of time but I'm going to sit tight until I get my visa.

Once in India, my plan is to try to get out of some of the bigger towns which will have lots of noise, pollution, touts, beggars, people grabbing me and all of the other shit I hate. I know that's part of India but India is a big country and I've heard it said by many people that if you don't like one area, go to another. They're all very different.



WRITING

Amy L gave me an excellent piece of advice on writing and I thought I'd pass it along. Have someone read it to you in a monotone or (if you're in my position and don't have people around to help) read it to yourself in a monotone. This is an amazing help.

God I hate editing but I knew that was my style of writing. Write then go back over it twenty times.

Note that I do NOT do that with this blog. I pretty much just slap it down and ship it off. But, I am not intending to sell the blog.



MOVIE REVIEW

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011) - So much duller than the 1979 version and that one was no modern American shoot em up movie. The original actors had a lot more stage presence. As an example, Patrick Stewart had a role in the original. Senior Stewart is well known for his big dramatic voice. In this role, he didn't even speak and I thought it was an amazing, subtle performance - possibly one of the better ones I'd ever seen given with a huge handicap. I just couldn't finish this one. I got so bored. 3/10.



VIDEOS

Saigon living quarters

Cambodia Paris Guesthouse

Second Place I stayed view

Zoo 1

Zoo 2 [Turn it off after 8 minutes as I forgot to turn off my camera and have no equipment for proper editing.]

Zoo 3

Cambodia (mute your sound for this video)

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PICTURES

{{2011}} London, GB | Rail N Sail | Amsterdam, Netherlands | Prague, Czech Republic | Budapest, Hungary | Sarajevo, Bosnia | Romania | Chisinau, Moldova | Ukraine: Odessa - Sevastopol | Crossed Black Sea by ship | Georgia: Batumi - Tbilisi - Telavi - Sighnaghi - Chabukiani | Turkey: Kars - Lost City of Ani - Goreme - Istanbul | Jordan: Amman - Wadi Rum | Israel | Egypt: Neweiba - Luxor - Karnak - Cairo | Thailand: Bangkok - Pattaya - Chaing Mai - Chaing Rei | Laos: Luang Prabang - Pakse | Cambodia: Phnom Penh | Vietnam: Vung Tau - Saigon aka Ho Chi Minh City

{{2012}} Cambodia: Kampot - Sihanoukville - Siem Reap - Angkor Wat | Thailand: Bangkok | India: Rishikesh - Ajmer - Pushkar - Bundi - Udaipur - Jodhpur - Jasalmer - Bikaner - Jaipur - Agra - Varanasi | Nepal: Kathmandu - Chitwan - Pokhara - Bhaktapur - (Rafting) - Dharan | India: Darjeeling - Calcutta Panaji | Thailand: Bangkok - again - Krabi Town | Malaysia, Malaka | Indonesia: Dumas - Bukittinggi - Kuta - Ubud - 'Full Throttle' - Gili Islands - Senggigi | Cambodia: Siem Reap | Thailand: Trat | Turkey: Istanbul | Georgia: Tbilisi

{{2013}} Latvia: Riga | Germany: Berlin | Spain: Malaga - Grenada | Morocco: Marrakech - Essauira - Casablanca - Chefchawen - Fes | Germany: Frankfurt | Logan's Home Invasion USA: Virginia - Michigan - Indiana - Illinois - Illinois - Colorado | Guatemala: Antigua - San Pedro | Honduras: Copan Ruinas - Utila | Nicaragua: Granada | Colombia: Cartagena | Ecuador: Otavalo - Quito - Banos - Samari (a spa outside of Banos) - Puyo - Mera

{{2014}} Peru: Lima - Nasca - Cusco | Dominican Republic | Ukraine: Odessa | Bulgaria: Varna - Plovdiv | Macedonia: Skopje - Bitola - Ohrid - Struga | Albania: Berat - Sarande | Greece: Athens | Italy: Naples - Pompeii - Salerno | Tunisia: Hammamet 1

{{2015}} Hammamet 2 | South Africa: Johnnesburg | Thailand: Hua Hin - Hat Yai | Malaysia: Georgetown | Thailand: Krabi Town | Indonesia:
Sabang Island | Bulgaria: Plovdiv | Romania: Ploiesti - Targu Mures | Poland: Warsaw | Czech Republic: Prague | Germany: Munich | Netherlands: Groningen | England: Slough | Thailand: Ayutthaya - Khon Kaen - Vang Vieng | Cambodia: Siem Reap

{{2016}} Thailand: Kanchanaburi - Chumphon | Malaysia: Ipoh - Kuala Lumpur - Kuching - Miri | Ukraine: Kiev | Romania: Targu Mures - Barsov | Morocco: Tetouan

{{2017}} Portugal: Faro | USA: Virginia | Michigan | Illinois | Colorado |

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