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Wednesday, January 4, 2012

NOTES OF KAMPOT

ACCOMODATIONS

According to an expat I spoke with, using air conditioning to cool a three bedroom house when you sleep is about $50. It seems to me that charging an extra $7 per night to cool a single room is a bit much.

In addition, it seems that a lot of people have flocked to Kampot for the new year week. I'm really not sure why. There is absolutely nothing going on in Kampot. I've heard a lot of people have gone to Bokor but that is 40 KM away. That seems a bit far to come to Kampot for overflow housing.

After doing a bit of research in the area, it seems that the $5 per night places listed on wikitravels must be from some very old information. Getting my $7 per night with refrigerator and hot water is looking like about the best deal I'm going to get so I'm staying put despite the lack of wifi. Heck, if I didn't mind giving up my beloved refrigerator to get wifi, I might have even gone back to the Paris Hotel had they not tried to rob me twice in one day. That's off the list for now. I am going to try to find a backup place just in case my current place "San Rise Guesthouse" decides they want to get in on that too.

I have gotten extremely lucky at San Rise Guesthouse. I was stalking around the place and discovered an open door of an unused room. It had the same things as my room (refrigerator and hot water) but with the addition of a window and a writing desk. I immediately went to the front desk to ask if it would be permitted for me to move into that room. They were extremely cool about it and even helped me move my crap into there. Kind treatment by the staff increases the length of my stay. I may be here for the entire month. Note that there are three big benefits to a window. 1) like I discovered on the ship I took to get to Georgia, if you don't have a window in your room day and night cycles get a bit messed up. 2) cool air can get in. 3) Logan smell can go OUT. This is a good thing.

Most of the other places I investigated have cold water and fan for $10 with places not much better - or worse - as high as $20. When I feel like paying $20 per night for accomodation, I'll go back to Europe. The main things I'm enjoying in SE Asia can be summed up as 'price'. There are other things I like, but that is the overwhelming factor as to why I am still here. When I get back to Europe, it will give Adam what he considers a much needed break from me bitching about SE Asia. I will find new and wonderful things in Europe to bitch about. Probably starting with the price.

In order to try to maintain the same room, I've contemplated paying ahead. The problem is that I don't think they'll give me any price break - you can't really expect them to go lower when you're at $7 - and I'm worried that I will somehow get screwed for a bigger amount of money than I can paying one day at a time. It's a tricky decision.

Aside from the lack of internet which continually makes me sad, I'm digging this place. I think I'll have to start occassionally hitting the cyber cafes. It's either half a dollar or a dollar per hour. The cost isn't the concern but having the internet at your finger tips is a great thing.

I went over and checked out another place called "NY NY GUESTHOUSE". For $7 you can get a room that does include wifi and hot water but is without a fridge and a balcony to smoke on. If you spend double you can get AC and a fridge but no window. I'm not really into that.



ANOTHER REASON TO BE SCARED OF COMMITTMENT

The dreaded 'wedding' tent seems to have relocated to a more picturesque part of the city. I'm not sure why it was where it was but I'm happy it's gone. For me, when the loudest thing you've got around is the fan in your room, that's nice when you are wanting somewhere 'restful'. Yes, I can sleep in rooms full of backpackers but right now, I'm just working on having some Logan Quiet Time.



QUEST FOR THE EYE DOCTOR

It was Tuesday. I decided that I should do some advanced scouting. I was suppose to see an eye doctor on Thursday. If I couldn't find one on Tuesday or Wednesday, I would know I had to go to Phnom Phen and back on Thursday. I don't want to gamble with my vision. I use that almost everyday. Although people who have traveled with me before might dispute that. So, I was on the quest for an eye doctor that knew what Iritis is in this provence. I was heading toward the hospital figuring that would be either the start or end of my quest when I came across what appeared to be an optomitrist's shop set up in some guys garage. It also had the green cross (plus sign) label that often indicates medical. I'm guessing the red cross would have other meanings in this country like "light this business on fire" or some such so they use a green cross. I checked with the people in the garage. It seemed to be the family from the house built above it. Eventually, a guy got pushed forward. I had significant difficulties understanding his English. He had a full set of teeth but I think half were hidden in a box off site. He was shabbily dressed. He claimed to be the doctor. I think. I eventually made out that I should come back and see him sometime between 5PM and 6PM and that he was going 'away'. I told him I might be back later in the day. Because I had 'significant doubts', I decided I should check out the hospital and other options first. So, I headed over to the provential hospital.

I honestly expected a bit more crude facilities in the provential hospital. Maybe I'd been running the news reel of central African medical facilites in my mind but this was a bit nicer than I expected. They even have the same sort of eye testing equipment ever other eye doctor I've ever been to has. There were only two main problems I had with the place. First was actually getting in. All of the gates I came across were chained closed. I eventually found one that was open. The second was that, despite having a good translator (an unpaid volunteer) nobody seemed able to tell me what the doctor's actual schedule was. I was told to please wait for ten minutes as the doctor would be back then. Nobody seemed able to tell me how much the actual checkup would cost. I'm guessing that for locals it was free. So, I 'cooled my heels' for ten minutes and the eye doctor showed up. Damned if it wasn't the same slightly crazy guy I'd seen before. My only comment was 'figures'. He hadn't even changed clothing. He looked confused and unhappy to see me. I'm guessing he thought he'd get less money out of it since I was at a probably free hospital.

So what started out as just an early recon became the check up. I don't think I'll ever get the check up on the actual date doctors say to duue to my wanting to do recons ahead of time to see if the facilities are actually around. So the doctor talked to me - badly - then squirted goo into my eye and told me it would be less bad in two weeks.

Again, the doctor got a bit slippery when I asked how much I should pay for the check up. "For locals?" he said. I decided I didn't want to play the 'guess the figure in his head game' all day so I offered $5. The doctors' eyes got a gleam in them like I'd just paid off his college and he said I should pay him directly. The money went into his front pocket, I wasn't going to ask for a receipt for this and slipped away. The doctor was happy and nobody stopped me on the way out so that's great. It would have been twice that in Phnom Phen so I figure we both did OK.

Naturally, I'm suppose to go back in a week. I will have a $5 bill seperate in a pocket, believe me. Since I know where the doctor lives and works, I'm feeling confident I will be able to find him so I won't need a recon.



DEAF COUPLE

I think there is a large deaf community in Kampot, possibly centered out of a place called "Epic Art". Actually, on their sign it is "EPICART". So it could be 'epi cart' - I'm just not sure. It has been years since I've used ASL (American Sign Language) but I know a knock down drag out argument when I see one. Had it been a hearing couple, they'd have been shouting at each other. As I surreptitously observed the argument, I had a couple thoughts on why deaf people have it better when arguing:
a) they don't annoy or irritate people around them. I know most people don't care if they irritate people around them but I still think it's an advantage.
b) due to the nature of sign language, you have to pay close attention to what the other person is signing as opposed to hearing people who really don't have to pay that close of attention. I've always wondered what the divorce rate is for deaf couples as opposed to hearing. I wouldn't be surprised if it was lower due to the need to pay close attention to all incoming communications. If Homer Simpson is right though, it may be higher. I think he said "That's the problem (in relationships) - communication. Too much communication."

[Side note: For those who want to call them 'hearing impared', I've had a lot of deaf friends in the past. They call themselves deaf and don't seem to care. I don't call myself 'thin impared' or 'gravety challenged'. I think that PC stuff is just silly. I do think they're people and I enjoy talking to them if they have interesting stuff to say. Or if they like listening to me and laugh at my bad jokes.]



THE INTERNET

What I'm doing about the internet:
Since the best place I can find to stay doesn't have the internet -
Since the computers in internet cafes look like rejects from the late '80s and work at dialup speed -
Since Cambodian internet goes down more than a Thai sex worker -

I've pretty much given up on the internet during my time here. Fortunately, I knew it was absolute rubbish before returning to Cambodia. While sucking up the decent bandwidth in Vietnam, I downloaded enough stuff that it should keep me happy for awhile. After I watch or listen to something, I am deleting it so that I can get my disc space freed up for when I get to a country with decent internet.

The only problem I've got is when it comes time to research stuff. When it comes time for that, I'll probably have to switch places.



LOGAN THE NAVIGATOR

Due to my apparent complete inability to read a map, I ended up with a four hour walking tour of the area north of Kampot. There is nothing really nifty to see there. It goes paved road, dirt road, back to paved road. It's extremely basic accomodations for most of the people which would explain why they want to check out the palatial $7 per night dwellings of the fancy city folk.

One of the places I came about in the boonies (when I was on the complete wrong side of the river) is a guest house named "Les Manguiers". It's a French-Cambodian affair. I inquired how much a room was. The first thing out of the ladies mouth was that they were 'eco friendly'. This immediately told me that it was very basic facilities at a very premium price. I was not disappointed. I'm not sure why all of the 'green' places cost so much more and either give the same or less than the not green places. Perhaps people just wish to pay extra for the aura of smugness that permiates such areas. I obviously can't afford to be kind to Mother Earth. I don't think it is the non-green guest houses which are messing up the planet. I suspect it is the factories employing lots of people and pumping tons of trash into the earth and sky which are making the difference. Some people suspect that the oil finally running out will be a signal to stop trashing the planet but I am confident that by the time it does, we'll find some new way to trash it.

After traveling on foot for the four hours, I noticed a small notation on my 'not to scale' hand drawn map that indicated the zoo was only a mere 7 KM further. My feet told me that while I might make it there, I would not want to move around once I got there.

So, I found a sturdy young lad with a motorbike. A bit of negotiation later and we agreed on 5000 KIP ($1.25) to get me back to Kampot. He seemed very pleased with the 1000 KIP ($.25) tip I ladled on top but I was greatful to be back in the city. My new new plan for getting to the zoo is to not fuck around with trying to walk 10-20 KM to reach it but to just get some transport out there straight away and do my walking there.



MORE ZOO, ZOO, ZOO

Won - one of the guys who works at the guest house I'm staying at asked me if I was still planning on going to the zoo. I told him I'd talked to the scooter drivers and they told me I could get taken out there for $5. This was because I had pointed out to them that I could rent my own scooter for $5 any time they quoted me a price higher than that and they immediately volunteered to match it. Won also said he would match it. I said why not and went out there. It was quite a long ride - I'm not sure I'd have made it on foot. It was $4 for 'foreigners' to get in. On the one hand I do understand about locals paying a different price but on the other hand it does feel a bit like being 'milked'. That aside, I would say that I got my $9 worth.

In European and American zoos, you almost need to bring binoculars with you to see the animals. Here, they are in cages literally close enough to reach through the bars and touch. There are signs not to touch the animals though I confess I did touch the camel and elephant. I did not touch the lion who looked like it would enjoy a good scratch. I felt more able to deal with the domesticated animals than a wild one who was bored and irritated at being locked into a cage for fat yanks to come and take pictures of. But, had I wanted to touch the lion, I was certainly close enough to do so and nobody was around to say no. Of course, if the lion wanted all or part of my arm there was also that possibility.

I made a few videos as well. On the way back, I also made a video of part of the ride so that the curious can see 'extremely rural Cambodia'. I would say that the natural stuff is the heart of Cambodia. Get out of the messed up litered cities and go into nature if you're into that sort of thing.



NEW FOODS

They have rice which is cooked over an open flame wrapped in leaves that might be (not sure here) wrapped in corn. I didn't quite spit it out when I tried it but it was a close call. I never knew rice could taste like that and wish I still didn't. Fortunately, it was only 1000 KIP ($.25) for a taste of something new. It was new, alright.

"Lok Lak". It's made of marinated beef, rice, egg, onions and tomatoes. It is surprising, but the egg actually works in it. Better to avoid it though because the beef quality is very low here. I think it's water buffallo. You can get good imported beef but you will pay quite a bit for it - $10 or higher. If you've never heard of water buffallo, just imagine beef flavored 'beef jerky'. Lots of chewing - long after you would have liked to get done chewing it and on to something else, you're still working on that same piece.

Several backpackers suggested a place called the "Rusty Keyhole". I'm not sure what the innuendo in the name is about there. Everyone suggested their ribs and said you'd get plenty of food. It was more expensive but not prohibitively so. For $6 I got a half slab of ribs with a shocking amount of meat on them as well as mashed potatoes and a dollop of coleslaw. It was a good feed. Not the best ribs I'd ever tasted but not bad. The portions were huge - I'm glad I didn't go for the full slab. They also have a 'dinosaur slab' - if you can eat all of that you get a free beer. One of the expats claimed you could drink free all night but I assumed he was drunk and full of crap - the menu seems to back that theory. The downside is that the size of the kitchen or the size of the staff hadn't kept up with their popularity so you'll be waiting for a long time to get any food and not just ribs. Overall, yeah, I'd eat there again sometime.



SIESTA

My new schedule I've been on for awhile goes something like this. I wake up somewhere between 8-11 AM. This depends on how much insomnia and stuff I've had the night before. Sometimes I just don't want to go to sleep but don't feel conscious enough to lie awake. The solution often is a dull audio book. Weird dreams though. Anyway, after waking up, I then go for what Pete would call 'a bit of a wander'. I stomp around the area I'm at for between 1-5 hours depending on how I feel and such. After that, I am covered in sweat (SE Asia sweat!) and it's time for a shower. Due to the smell. After the shower, I then need to do a siesta until about 4-6 PM. I've been spending this time writing (book and blog) or listening to books. After that, the temperature has cooled enough to go stomp around some more and find new things which irritate me so that I can write about them to irritate Adam. Then Adam can write about how he is irritated to irritate me. Then, I will go take out my irritation by finding things which irritate me to write about. It's a vicious circle. If I didn't have Adam in that loop, I'd still have to find irritating things and write about them but it would feel not quite as satisifying. Bringing joy to others is what I like to do. It's a kind of magic.



DON'T CRY JANA

I went to the post office to check out how much it would cost to mail my notebooks of handwritten rantings that eventually have the most bitching cut out to become the blog. Yes, Adam, I actually edit out most of my whining. Scary, no? Anyway, these things which will eventually become strange 'Warehouse 13' artifacts are then mailed to Jana. She will hold on to them until one of three things happens. a) She gets careless or bored and loses them. b) I become a famous writer in which case she will ebay them for bit money. c) I die in which case she will either ebay them or hold some sort of Satanic ritual involving them.

Unfortunately, Cambodia doesn't look like the place to mail them from. Bidding for just two of the couple dollar notebooks started at $30 and slowly went down in little steps but I could tell it wasn't getting anywhere close to reasonable to mail off these small books. I don't think that anyone else in the country mails shit. I know they can't afford that sort of charge.

I was also nervious about trying to send them with this lady because she wanted to send them to the Czech Republic by sea. Also, she kept calling it Germany despite my having written down "Czech Republic". No, it wasn't that she wanted to mail them through Germany. She believed they are the same country. I tried to convince her that just because they both make good beer it didn't mean they were the same country but my words of wisom splattered without effect on the language barrier.

So I don't think I'll be able to mail them from this continent. I hope Jana that won't cause you too many nights of lying awake, clutching your pillow and crying bitter bitter tears into it.



SO BROWN IS BAD?

The Cambodian people get extremely brown in the sun. In the USA, sun worshipers or the people who cheat spending money on tanning booths would pay big money to get that brown. Because people usually want what ever doesn't come naturally, in Cambodia lighter skin is seen as more attractive. It is seen as more desirable and more beautiful. The Cambodians go through amazing lengths to achieve it. Many people - including monks - use umbrellas and other things to try to shield themselves from the sun. Even in the amazing heat, people veil their faces and bodies to try to keep the sun off of it. This includes people who work all day in the fields. I can't even begin to fathom being wrapped up like that and working your ass off in a field all day. Actually, I can't get my head around working my ass off in a field all day. They also sell 'whitening soap'. I actually use this lightening soap because I know the 'lightening' properties are a lie. In the USA, we would call it 'marketing'. Note that after a few weeks of using it, there has been no change to my skin. The brown stays brown. I only use it because I don't mind the smell.

Another fashion thing that some people do is to grow their fingernails to 'press on nails' length. I asked why and was told that it is easier to clean. This seems not to fit the facts to well so I just take it as another affectation.



POLICE

There is plenty of private security around - almost all of it unarmed but the actual number of police seem rare. In all of my time in Cambodia, I've only seen one police car. This is quite different from say Prague in the Czech Republic where the police are everywhere.



ALCOHOL

The expats in this town seem unevenly split between backpackers and the retired crowd. The retired crowd seems split evenly into either the married or maintaining a perpetual state of inhebriation.

Speaking of drinking, I've been doing a lot less of that here. If I wanted Kaluah, I'd have to return to Phnom Phen to get it but I'm not really wanting mixed drinks where I'm at. Any sort of sugar attracts the annoying small black ants in droves. I've been sticking to Black Panther beer because they don't seem to like that. For $5 I can keep fairly stocked up and I don't mind the taste.



BOOK REVIEW - (AUTHOR) ANDY MCNAB

I'm reading his "Nick Stone" series - nine or ten books. Thus far, I've gone through three of them. I wish I had the technical expertise of this guy but I simply don't. A lot of the stuff he covers that I do know about (spy tradecraft) is dead on - he also covers things I don't know about - bomb making, for example. Although I've been trained in some of the basics like how to shape a charge he goes into more detail. It is a welcome change from other novels in which the technical screw ups scream that the author not only has never experienced it but not bothered to research it. The kind of people who have silencers screwed on to revolvers really get my panties in a bunch. [Disclaimer - there was one special made revolver made to use a silencer but I don't remember the name of it, and it wasn't all that effective as a weapon anyway.] I also like that the hero suffers from some of the same mental failings that people in that line of work get - emotional distance and some PTSD.

Overall, I'd give his books a solid 7/10. Due to the amount of detail it can sometimes bog down a bit like a Tom Clancy novel.



PRICES

Cup of coffee, .75. Or, you can get a pot for $1.50. I asked how many cups of coffee a pot held and was told two. I don't see the point to ordering a pot. In general, the coffee cost ranges from .50 USD to 3 USD depending on where you go - but it tastes pretty much the same. I stick with the dollar or less places. If I felt like spending $3 per cup, I could just hold out and go to a Starbucks - I like their coffee better and know I'll get price gouged before going in.

Going anywhere in this town by moped, $5 maximum if you're at all clever.

Getting into the zoo, $4 for you filthy foreigners.

2 comments:

  1. I commented here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EBVTdhKG7hU

    The Coon

    ReplyDelete
  2. A copy paste of his comment from the video link for those who don't want to click on it:

    Hi Logan this is The Coon. Fuck, I am jealous of you for two reasons: I recently quit smoking and I want to visit SE Asia too. Keep blogging, I like your blog. Would you be willing to send me your book manuscript. I will try to give honest feedback; but don't expect too much of my feedback because if you do you will be disappointed. If I win the lottery we are going to drink vodka together again; if not we will probably never meet again. I hope the eye-problem disappears quickly.


    In answer, sure I'd be happy to send you the manuscript - send me an e-mail to the address I provided and I'll get that out in docx format.

    ReplyDelete

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 |

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