Getting through the border into Vietnam through Ha Tien was simple, and had the normal scam. I was happy that I got my visa ahead of time at the consulate, where he told me, do not pay anything at the border. So anyways, by mistake I we all walked to the wrong counter where a guy pointed a heat gun at us, and said, “OK, you are good, pay me 1 dollar!” I said, “No, I don’t have any money, I already paid at the consulate. This is a scam!” Myself and another guy just walked away, to where we get our stamps. Others paid, and we all saw him put the money directly into his pocket.
After we got our stamp, everything was good and we entered into Ha Tien. About 10 minutes from the border.
I was really lucky, as the bus station was 3 minute walk to my hotel.
The hotel was really nice for only $20 CAD a night. Was nice to have an actual shower, with internet, and other luxuries. I have not had in a while.
That night I went to the night market and walked around the town. So far, the Vietnamese people seem really friendly. However, I did encounter a lady who either did not like foreigners or was just a mean old lady. I stood inline to buy a drink, and when it was my turn, she just waved her arms, and pointed to leave. So, I just turned around and went 5 feet over to the next guy, who was happy to server me.
Later I find out this to be true. Half of the people here are rude, and the other half are the nicest people. This is the first Asian country I have found this to be true.
Over the next few days, I met several really nice people. A lot of the younger people wanted to say hi and ask me questions. This is always fun!
The town itself is small and quiet, with nice charm. I often get a cold Soy Drink, and sit by the water. Watching the river boats and locals doing there things.
It has been a nice relaxing 2 nights, but it is time to move onto Phu Quoc Island, where I will try and find some volunteer work.
Kampot was an easy commute from Sihanoukville. The first bus ride I have been on in months where I didn’t almost shit myself. So, even though the minibus was over full, I sat leaning over, and my legs rubbing up against a smelly backpacker. It was still very enjoyable 🙂
Just over an hour later, I arrived at the bus stop in Kampot. Home of Kampot Pepper, and Kampot Cider. MMMmm hard cider.
Anyways, I had 2 KM still to go to my hotel. I easily found a scooter taxi who only asked a local rate. What, seriously. I am not getting the White Skin tax? I only paid $1.50 and he was a nice dude!
My hut, is really nice. Up a few stairs, with a nice fan. You can check it out here.
The hotel bar, is right full of hippies though. Pot and Cigarette smoke everywhere, and even getting into my hut. I was a little frustrated at first, because I booked this hut to get away from that shit. I wanted some fresh air, no noise, and relaxation.
This is where my first mistake took place. I went to the bar, for a pint, and saw them trying to fix the stereo. I watched this for about an hour, getting a good kick out of the hippy backpackers trying to fix a few simple broken wires.
Eventually the one girl says, “Is anyone an electrician?”. She looked my way and I nodded and said, sure.
Then a few of them asked why I didn’t say so earlier. I simply said, “I didn’t want to tell you what you are doing wrong, as I just arrived, and this is way more fun to watch!”.
About 5 minutes later I had both left and right audio wires properly connected and taped. I plugged in my phone and music came on. They all cheered and I got a free beer.
This was around 9 PM.
Around 11 PM, I went to bed.
5 AM, the music is still pounding and I am now really regretting helping them. I am almost considering going and pulling the wires back apart, but I don’t.
5:30 AM and the morning staff arrive and turn off the music. Thank You!!!
The next day I mention it to the owner and she said, this won’t happen again as she has a policy, post in big letters above the bar. 11 PM, music must be turned off.
The next 3 nights, the music did turn off around 11 or a little after, which isn’t bad. It actually took me 4 days until I came around and started liking the place. I guess my opinion on breathing smoke is stronger than I thought.
My bathroom friend! Can you see the lizard?
My stay here in Kampot was nice. It is a small town, with not much going on. I spent everyday doing the same thing.
At around 8 AM, I would walk down the street to a local restaurant and have local food for 1 dollar.
Lunch, I did the same, and then went for a 5 or 6 KM walk around town.
Dinner, I would skip and have a few beers at the pub and go for a swim in the river.
After a little more than 6 weeks of living all over Cambodia, but never near the Sea, I decided it was time to swim. So, I jumped on the bus to Sihanoukville.
It’s isn’t a long ride, only 3.5 hours, and I am feeling great.
However, as always. 2 hours later, I start getting cramps again. Really! Yes! Why every time I get on a damn bus, I get cramps.
Anyways, long story short. I was starting to panic, as I knew the bus did not have a planned stop. In a panic, I waited until I knew I could walk a few steps, and I went up to the driver and asked for a toilet. He didn’t seem impressed, but stopped.
I was in luck, because the last while there was no place for washrooms, but he found a market, with brand new toilets.
I made it! Success was had.
On the drive into Sihanoukville,we drove past the Angkor Beer factory.
Awww, my true love!
My first day in Sihanoukville was nice. I was there early, so I had a chance to walk around the area my hotel is in. I am about a 5 minute walk to a beach, and 7 minute walk to a pub street, with great food. Even better, my hotel has a pool for when that 5 minute walk is too much.
Not bad for $9 a night!
Check out the supports holding up my hut. It should be OK.
Over the next 7 days, these are some of the highlights.
I met a crazy Canadian who lives in Thailand now. He has been there for about 10 years and this is his story.
He met a Thai girl, married her and decided to live in Thailand. Pretty cool! Wait for it! He has been traveling around Asia for the last 8 months, and just randomly sends her money, when she and his kid needs it. I don’t know, but this doesn’t sound like a man to me.
Next, he drinks non stop. For breakfast he doesn’t order coffee, but instead a draft beer. Again, that’s dedication!
For the last part, and this is a crazy one. This is my first time meeting a person who is the spammer in email. He is a guy who actually sets up, and spams people. In his mind, tricking people into accepting emails, is not spam. He says, they clicked it!
Anyways, I never discussed my opinions on this subject with him. I just enjoyed his company. He was a pretty fun guy to talk with, and get to know. I actually really liked him.
See, people need to remember this! If what a person does or believes doesn’t affect you, then shut up, and get on with life.
A bar I frequently visited was run by an American, and a Finish guy. Both were really cool, and I loved chatting with them. I think I went there almost everyday for happy hour. 50 cent drafts.
My morning breakfast was always the same. I would go to Pat’s Restaurant where they had the best coffee and cheap prices. My breakfast would only cost $2 dollars, for a large coffee and omelette with bread.
Pat’s 8 year daughter was the cutest girl. She always helped in the restaurant. She would deliver the food and take our money. She always brought back the correct change. She loved doing it.
So, on my last day, I brought a notebook and two pens. I gave it to her. This is how it went.
I asked her to come over. When she came over, I held out the notebook to give to her. She did not reach for it. She stopped, stood straight up, and held her hands, palms together, and said a short prayer to me. My understanding is that she said, thanks and blessed me and my family a good future.
After taking the book, she said thank you again in English, and then slowly walked away, while looking it over. About 1 minute later, I heard her yelling at Pat, telling her mom what I gave her.
Pat came out and said thank you like 3 times!
This is why I donate! I wish I had a picture of how cute she looked when she was thanking me.
Eating at Pat’s was always fun because it is very popular, and never enough seats. So, you end up just sitting with someone you don’t know. I love this, as I met a lot of cool people from all over.
2 of these guys, where crazy Americans. The one guy bought a local bought and restored it. He is planning on living on it, during the good seasons.
Here are some pictures of his boat and the boat yard.
I have to say, the Americans were really funny and a lot of fun.
While on google, the one day I found a craft beer place. Obviously I went to it.
I tried all of their beers, and my favorite was a beer fermented with jack Fruit. Not bad at all.
Near the end of my stay, I was sitting at the bar having a pint when I noticed two Khmer girls smiling at me. So, I said hi, and our conversation started. About an hour later, drunk Rob realized I just made a date with the younger girl for tomorrow. Hmmm, cool!
The next day, right on time, she arrived. I have no idea what her name is, but I found out she is 22, and pretty.
She wanted to take me to a few beaches, and show me around her area.
60 minutes of riding around, we ended up on Ortes Beach. It was damn hot, and I wanted to swim.
She tells me she just learned to swim. This should be fun!
It took her about 20 minutes to get in the water and when she finally did. We spent the next 2 hours, swimming, joking, and having a great time getting to know each others life stories.
The sun was going down, so we headed back to my hotel, where we parted ways. I will remember our day together. She was really funny, and a lot of fun. However, tomorrow I leave the city, and move onto Kampot.
Battambang was amazing, but I only have a few weeks left in Cambodia, and my friends are all busy. So, it is time I start heading South towards the Vietnam border. My first stop will be Phnom Penh.
The reason I am going to Phnom Penh is because there is a craft beer company there, and also my friend Samphors is there. Stopping here will be a nice break from the bus ride.
Within a few minutes of being on the bus, a Khmer guy asks me where I am from, my name, etc. This is becoming very common on buses for me.
Anyways, we have a great conversation, which makes the 6 hours fly bye.
At one rest stop he bought his lunch, but came up 2000 Riel short (50 cents), and asked to borrow it from me. Of coarse I said yes, and told him he doesn’t need to worry about paying me back.
At the next bus stop I saw him jump off the bus first and run down the road. We only had 10 minutes here, as they were washing and changing the bus oil.
I got one of my favorite drinks, from the vendor. I don’t know exactly what it is called, but the plant looks like bamboo, and they press the juices out of it, pour it into a cup with ice, and drink. It’s very good.
Just when the bus guys are finishing up, my new friend arrives back. He comes straight to me and pays me the 2000 Riel back. The reason I saw him running is because the closest ATM was 1 KM away.
I told this story to a lot of foreigners and they all said, they would have not trusted him. My response to them was, “Who cares, it was 50 cents and he made an honest mistake being short changed!”, “And now I have this awesome story to tell people!”.
About an hour later we arrived in Phnom Penh, where I say goodbye to another new friend.
That night I didn’t do to much. Just walked around my area and ate dinner. The hotel itself was decent, but the noise in the area and hotel was too much for me. I am only staying 2 nights, and then I will find a new place.
The next day I met up with Samphors at Cerevisia Craft Brewhouse. We shared a sampler of their beers while we waited to meet with one of the owners. We want to meet him to get some information on where he gets his supplies. We are thinking about making some homebrew in Battambang.
Samphors taking some notes
After meeting with Eric and getting some great information. We went for a little walk around the area before she had to go to other meetings. She is one busy girl. If you can believe it, she is not 16, but 26 years old. One of the smartest Khmer people I have ever met.
When I got back to my hotel, I decided I didn’t need to stay here any longer, as it is not the type of city I enjoy. Too busy!
I messaged Samphors to let her know I moving on. She is the last of my Khmer friends to say goodbye too. I will miss her, her brother and Chea a lot. They are all amazing people and I hope I can come back soon.
It’s 6:30 am and I am picking up my Honda XR 250 bike, from a local rental place. The girl just finished changing the oil and now I am ready to meet up with the others.
Mr. Chea is on his China made ATV, and Vannah is riding his trusty 125 Scooter, with Samphors on the back. Brother and sisterly love 🙂.
Mr. Chea’s soon, Lay Hok, is riding a mini sport bike. I think they are 150cc. I want one!
It was about 7:30am when we finally left Battambang, on highway 5. Our first destination is Thippadei.
From Thippadei city, no one in our group has been on these roads. They show up on google maps. So we won’t get lost. Right!
Within the first hour, one of us already ran out of gas. Oh, wait, that was me. No big deal though. There are people selling gas in 1 litre plastic bottles all over.
A short bit later we are in Thippadei, and another minute later we are through Thippadei and onto unknown roads. Very quickly the roads go from gravel, to just sand and holes. We slow from our 65 KM pace, to 30 KM and less.
Originally I was guessing it would take us 6 hours to go 180 KM to Osoam Village Community. However, the last hour we only traveled 20 KM. Maybe less.
The roads went from bumpy, to no actual roads at all. We are now on, what I would call, trails.
Lay Hok got stuck in this mud hole, but only because a rock was in front of his front wheel. 🙂 No big deal, he kicks it out of the way and rips through.
Lunch time has arrived and we find a vacant hut to eat and rest in. So far, I think we have spent more time trying to determine what is the correct trail to take. They show on google maps, but not in the exact GPS location we are in. More than once we took the wrong path and had to find a new route. All part of the adventure.
After lunch we spend another 5 hours of riding, getting lost, finding our way, and taking short breaks.
My ass and back are really starting to hurt. Mostly my back. I guess 3 herniated discs and these trails are not good for me.
Some pictures from the day.
After 11 hours of hard riding we decide to stop for the night. I was really happy as I had no headlight. It was turned on, but nothing. However, Vannah says to me, turn your lights on. I said, they don’t work and go to show him. This is when I find out, the On, Low, High, positions are all OFF, and the OFF position, turns my lights on. Well, at least I have lights now.
Anyways, we never made it to Osoam. Actually we are not much past half way, and the road from here to Osoam is just as bad.
8 PM, we finish dinner and go to sleep for the night. I don’t have camping gear, so I rented a room. The others camped right where we ate. 🙂 That is called Cambodian Camping.
5:45 AM the next morning, Mr. Chea, and the gang are knocking on my door, saying, lets go!
So, I grab my stuff, shake my head, and we ride off, into this amazing sunrise.
I hope we make it to Osoam before lunch. We only have 80 KM to go. Haha!
I ride ahead every so often and then take a break while the gang catches up. These roads are muddy, and slippery. The scooter and mini sport bike have amazed me, at how well they are going through the mud without getting stuck. Very impressive riding by my Cambodian friends.
On one of the crazy wet hills, we find a nice spot to stop and take breakfast. Full service, in the jungle! A scooter carrying ice and drinks stops as we are eating. How amazing is that!
Well back to riding!
The others found a short cut across the lake using two ferries. I am so happy, until I see the ferry. Lol. I am a little surprised but it holds Mr. Chea and Lay Hok. Vannah, Samphors, and I must wait for it to come back.
While waiting, this dog and little chic entertain me.
First ferry crossing was a success, and the next one looks easy, as it is much larger.
Now that we made it across the 2 ferries, we only have 5 KM left.
I was very happy, those 5 KM were on good roads. We made it in record time!
Oh, I almost forgot. 1 KM left and there is one medium sized mud hole. So far we have had no issues, even when we crossed a river, only our feet got wet.
But not this time!
As Vannah was crossing, he hits a very deep hole hidden in the mud, and gets stuck. No problem right. As Samphors is getting off of the bike, she slips and falls 100% of the way, into the muddy water. As she gets up, she slips and falls again.
Do you know how badly I wanted to laugh, but I didn’t because I was worried she might have dropped her brand new iPhone in it.
However, everything was OK. So I was able to laugh and tell the others, who didn’t see it. 🙂
6 hours of riding today, and we make it to Osoam. Time to relax and have a nice lunch!
After lunch we hand out some donations to the English Charity school owned by my friend Mr. Lim and take some pictures.
Next stop is to the public school in Osoam Village, 1 KM down the road.
Mr. Chea, Vannah, Samphors, and Lay Hok donated a tone of books to the school for the children. Pretty awesome thing to do!
The director of the school asked if I would be willing to come back and teach gym and assist in English. I said, I would try, but no promises as I have no idea where I am going next.
Well, this is where I decided I cannot ride another 200 KM to Koh Kong. The gang is going to slip up. I am going to stay in Osoam for the night and will ride back to Battambang alone tomorrow.
The rest of the day, I tried to relax, but the little snots, or as most call them, kids wanted me to go swimming. After saying no, a tone of times I eventually went.
It was nice, but my back was not having any of it. So, I only went swimming for a few minutes and then went back to relax.
The next morning at 7 am I jumped on the XR 250 and headed towards home. Instead of taking the ferry, I decided I would just ride that part of the road.
What a crazy mistake that was. The road was way worse than what we had ridden the last two days. I definitely should have taken their advice and went on the ferries.
I should have taken some pictures but I was too busy trying to keep upright.
Anyways, I made it through in 2 hours. I beat our 6 hours from the day before. Now I am cheating and taking the highway back. It is longer, but shorter because I will not be getting lost and can cruise at whatever speed I want.
2 hours later I am not halfway, and the dust on the road is un-explainable. Just take a look at these two pictures.
Even though my ass is hurting like mad, my back feels like someone is stabbing me with a knife, I only take 5 minute breaks and continue as fast as I can see.
9 hours in total and I make it to Battambang. Man, am I glad to be finished riding.
This was an amazing adventure and I cannot wait to see the others, and share our pictures.
It is 2017 and I decided to come back to Battambang to visit my good friend Mr. Chea. He has invited to come to his hotel for a few nights, while I help him with some website stuff.
So, January 2nd, I take the bus down to Battambang, and meet with Mr. Chea at his, very amazing hotel. This is a 5 star, resort and the room he gave is, is nicer than I could even imagine. His staff are super friendly and treat me like I am VIP or extremely important. Which I am not!
Anyways, after checking in, I meet up with Mr. Chea, his good friend and manager, Whanna, and Whanna’s sister for dinner. I am sure I am spelling his name wrong, but it will do for now.
That night we sat, drank, ate, until late. To make it even more fun, we played Russian roulette with beers. Angkor beers have a chance to win a free beer under the cap, and we kept saying, last round unless someone wins a beer. Eventually we were all hoping no one would win a free beer. LOL! What a night, is all I can say.
I won’t forget theses nights, done in Cambodia style!
The next day Mr. Chea’s son, Whanna’s sister and I went through the technical updates for the websites, and I also gave them some tips on using media editing software.
I was asked how much would it cost them for me to do some designs and logos. My answer, “I don’t charge Khmer people!”, “if they need help, I do it for free!”.
However, I am still waiting for them to ask for more help. I hope they do, because I love doing it.
Later Mr. Chea and I talked about going to Osoam Village on Jan 10th. That is not for another 7 nights, and until that day, he is going away. This is OK I said, as I will find a school to go and volunteer at until he arrives back.
Online I found KNGO School, that needs volunteers to help in English and also other areas. So, I called the director and made arrangements for me to arrive the next day at 1 PM.
I was greeted with big smiles from the director and a lot of the students. A great first impression.
Over the next 3 days, I assisted Sopheak from 1 PM until 6 PM in 5 different classes. He is an amazing teacher and I learned a lot of very good teaching techniques, that I will use in other schools.
On the last 2 days, I spent 10 hours teaching the director and his IT guy how to update their website, and how to setup backups, for all of the PCs.
Someone else configured the website, but they had no idea how he did it, or the password. I was able decrypt the one file which was holding the saved password, and give it to them. They were very happy now that they can make updated via FTP.
On the last day, we took some pictures of the top students of that month.
I spent a total of 25 hours volunteering at KNGO in 5 days and loved every minute of it. Maybe I will get a chance in the future to come back.
While waiting for Mr. Chea to come back, I got to spend some lunches and dinners with his mom, and wife. Neither speak English, but are always very hospitable. The staff usually translates for us, which really helped.
The one lunch I got to meet his grandfather, who speaks 4 languages. Very impressive. He is a really nice guy! I later found out that he is a Senator of Cambodia. I am now personal friends with a Senator Of Cambodia. WTF! He even asked me to come visit him in Phnom Phen.
I am starting to learn that Mr. Chea is not just a hotel owner, but a very important man in the community. He is obviously very humble, as he has never told me any of this. He acts like he is not important, but everywhere I go, people know about him.
The one day, he invited me to go with him to a wedding. I thought why not, even though I am dressed like a backpacker. I am told this is OK, for man to do.
At the wedding, I didn’t actually see the ceremony, but was at the reception. From the minute I walked in, until the minute I left. Everyone treated me like I was special, and kept saying hi. This one lady asked me tones of questions about me and how much I like different things in Cambodia.
I have to say, I really enjoyed the party and the company.
Here is a fun little story that reinforces why I like Cambodia so much.
The one day I was having coffee with my local friend Ly and we were talking about teaching. He was asking me different questions about the schools. Anyways, after we were finished, I was about to pay, and the waitress tells my friend, that the guy behind us paid. So, Ly asks why, but she didn’t know. Before I got a chance to tell him thank you. He turns around and says, “Thank you for helping the people in my country.”
How amazing is that. He only understood a little English but understood the word volunteer and that I was doing that.
On January 7th, Cambodia celebrates the defeat of Khymer Rouge. This was one heck of a big event and I got a chance to celebrate it with them. However, I am not going to go into big details on this yet, as I am writing a separate post on it later. It was an honour to be able to be here for this celebration.
Anyways, Mr. Chea is back and tomorrow early we leave for an adventure across country, to Osoam. 200 KM of off road, jungle riding. Wish me luck!
After volunteering to teach English at Osoam Village, I got the bug and then when I left Pursat, and sent books back to them, the bug got stronger to help. I love Cambodia, and the people here, so why not try and make a difference! They want it, and they need it.
In Siem Reap, my plan was to come for two nights, just to go and see the temples. Then after that, get the hell out the tourist city. I am not a fan of cities, and even less for tourist cities.
However, across from my hotel, I saw a poster asking for volunteers to assist Cambodian teachers in teaching English.
5 minutes later I was on the phone with Sophal from Stung Thmey Primary School. She said come tomorrow at 5 pm and I will bring you into a class.
So, I extended my hotel stay for 7 more nights.
The next day I meet with a school representative at the gates, and she takes me directly to a classroom where Vichhai Chhoeng, is teaching. He introduces me to the class and then the 100 questions start. The kids want to know everything about me, and where I am from.
My first day in the class was pretty awesome. The students showed they really enjoyed having extra help. The teacher, is a really nice guy, and is a teacher during the day, then volunteers here for 1 hour, and then goes to night school after. Impressive!
The next day, I purchased 20 books and 40 pens to hand out to the students. These students are middle class Cambodian, so most can afford these things, but I wanted to show my appreciation for them allowing me to join their class. Plus, the books supplies only cost $20.
That day when I handed out the books, the kids really showed me how much they loved it and at the end of class a few of them said thank you again, and gave me a high five.
I have know been volunteering at the school for 7 school days, and am now extending my stay for another 5 or so.
Onto the next donation adventure!
At my hotel, there is a young man who works the night shift. He is a very calm, relaxed nice kid. He is 18, and is from a small farm village about 75 KM outside of Siem Reap. I don’t know the exact details, but the 6 families in his village joined together and sent him to Siem Reap, to get an education and a good paying job. In return he helps support the farms with his salary.
He asked me if I would like to go with him on his day off, to visit his village, and meet the young kids. I said Yes, obviously! We also decided to get some supplies for the kids.
On Christmas day, at 5:30 AM I awake, get ready, grab the books and meet Jāvaý Pozz Svet. We jump on a TukTuk with another good friend who is driving us.
We decided to take a short cut, which turned out to be a long cut. One bumpy ride!
At the village, I meet Jāvaý family, and some of the other parents in the village. I also get to meet all of the crazy little kids. 🙂
These kids go to school about 1 hour per week. The remaining time they are helping on the farms, collecting rice, mango’s, yams, and different berries around the area.
After showing me around the farm, his mom tells me she is cooking lunch for me. She is very excited to cook for me. I think this is the happiest I have ever seen a person, when cooking for someone. She is always smiling, and happy.
I can smell the food and cannot wait to eat. MMMMmmmmmmm!
I wish I could explain exactly how this food tasted. It was amazing, and I wanted to take it home with me. Lol. It was spicy, sweet, sour, salty! All the flavours of the rainbow 🙂
After lunch, the kids line up. Well, they tried to line up, but some of the girls were too excited to receive the books. The one girl could not stop smiling! What an amazing feeling handing out the books and pens to these kids.
Too finish off my visit, Jāvaý and his brothers take me for a little trek into the jungle to show me another temple that is not listed on the tourist guides. This is a hidden gem and I am extremely lucky to have seen it. Not many people in the last few 100 years have been here. Especially no tourist.
Another end to an amazing day! Thanks Jāvaý for taking me to meet his family and village. This is one day I will never forget!
The one day I was playing on google maps looking at what was in the area, when I saw a charity school called, “World of Hope School”. With a name like that, I have to find more about it.
They had a website and phone number listed. So I gave the school a call to find out more about it. The school is geared towards kids without families, or who cannot afford to go to school in the city.
When I called, the director, he was so excited on the phone. He told me many things and kept asking when I could come visit. In between his excitement I was able to get some basic information. They have a total of 106 students, and classes are separated between morning and afternoon. Not all students go each day, and the morning students are different from the afternoon.
Well, that day I went and purchased 110 books, with 110 pens.
40 of the books
Around 9 am in the next morning I head over to World Of Hope School.
I am greeted in the classroom with 20 Hellos and a bunch more questions. I love how happy Cambodian kids are. They love learning and telling you all about Cambodia.
The teacher gave the kids a 15 minute break and they played football. Was really entertaining.
While they were playing, I met a new volunteer from Australia, named Allison. She is staying for 3 weeks in this school, while on her vacation. Pretty awesome thing to do on your holiday.
After the break, Allison went back to teaching the kids, and I got a chance to watch and do a little interacting with them as well.
The one little girl truly touched my heart. She is 5 years old and is so smart. She very, very quietly told me the alphabet, and then told me A is for apple, B is for banana, and so on.
The teacher of the school told me when she arrived at the school a month ago, she would not talk, or even look up. She only held her head down. She was so sad. But the last few weeks she has been talking more and smiling. She is still very shy.
My understanding is her parents gave or dropped her off in the middle night. No one actually knows who they are. She is all alone!
Even as I write this I am thinking about this little girls face, and how sweet she is. I almost want to give up helping. Giving her a book and a pen, does this really help her? I don’t know what I can really do to help people like this. It kills me inside to see this happening in the world, when back home people bitch and complain about the stupidest things.
She is the little girl on the bottom right, front.
About an hour later, it is the end of the morning class and I get the chance to hand out the books.
Each kid stands up and says thank you. Always with a big smile! 🙂
After handing out the books, all of the students stood up and said thank you, with a little cheer. Was really heart warming. Some great kids, and I wish them the best!
So the bus ride to Siem Reap was uneventful, which I like. However, as we enter into Siem Reap, the bus scam starts, and this is how it went.
As the bus is approaching Siem Reap, it stops just before it enters the town, and drops off all of the locals on the bus. We are less than 1 KM from the hotel area, but we turned off the highway.
As the locals are getting off of the bus, I ask the driver, if we are going back onto the highway into Siem Reap. If not, I am getting off here and walking. He tells me, “yes, yes, they are going into Siem Reap.”
Well, they did not. The bus driver intentionally drove around Siem Reap to a location 4-5 KM away from the hotel area, where there is nothing, but Tuk Tuk drivers waiting for us. The Tuk Tuk drivers know we are too far to walk so they also try to double the prices.
Also because the bus is now past Siem Reap, it is not going back, it is continuing on.
The scam is simple, they go around Siem Reap, and go far enough outside that tourist must pay extra for a Tuk Tuk, at an outrages price. I mean double the actual bus ride, which was 4 hours long.
Take a look at the map. 1 was where we dropped off the locals and turned off the highway. If he would have stayed on the highway, I would have been less than 50 feet from my hotel, and same with the other tourist.
A few people on the bus were pissed, and myself. Well, I got scammed, and I made it obvious I was not stupid, but I don’t get angry.
I see 2 girls from UK, and we all try to make a deal into town, to lesson the cost.
That didn’t work out, because the Tuk Tuk driver took us to the wrong location, and tried acting like it was our fault and wanted more money. The one UK girl was not having it, and said, “Screw it, I am walking!”. This changed his attitude and he dropped us all off, within a reasonable distance.
Anyways, this is not a major scam, but it is a scam and will give Cambodia a bad name. After doing some research, it has done just that.
I love Cambodia, and I want to see this country come back from all of the terrible things that has happened to it. The people are generally awesome, friendly, and caring people. So scams like this, have to stop!
Lets look at the good side of this day!
The two UK girls I met, ended up being really cool and we partied that night. I also saw them again a few nights later, just randomly at a Taco stand.
So all bad things, have a good side. Don’t forget it!
Battambang started off pretty good and only got better as my time here continued.
When I arrived at the bus stop, the hotel sent over a Tuk Tuk to pick me up. The Tuk Tuk driver brought along Thean, a Cambodian, who speaks excellent English.
Thean is a really nice guy, very friendly and knowledgeable. He also operates his own tour business, where he takes tourist to the local hot spots. More on that later.
The hotel I checked into is called First Hotel, and immediately I get a good impression from the staff. My room is very nice as well. Comfy bed, hot water, and all this for $6 a night.
Anyways, my first day is spent just wandering around the streets, seeing what all is here. At first, I think it is the same as Pursat, just bigger. Not sure if this is where I want to stay very long.
However, my opinion very quickly changes.
The two hotel staff are so nice, and always say, Hello Rob, and want to chat. If they have food, they always offer me some. I very quickly feel like I have been here for weeks, and I have only been here 1 day.
The next morning I see Thean and he asks if I want to go for coffee together. Sure, why not.
This leads into him telling me about his business and all the things to see in Battambang, and one thing I must see. The Killing Caves! This will be a separate post, which will NOT be safe for kids to read!
We also talk about his business and I later help him with some technical stuff online.
He arranges for me to get a Tuk Tuk to see the bats that night. This is going to be cool!
After our coffee, I head back to the hotel but on my walk I see tones of crazy Cambodian things. They have no fear!
Around 3:30 pm a Tuk Tuk driver picks me up from the hotel and we drive out to the Killing Caves, where I can see 1 million bats fly out of a cave, at dusk.
When we arrive I spend 1 hour at the Killing Caves, and watching the monkeys act like assholes. Yes, they are assholes. Trust me, but still funny.
It is almost time for the bats, so I head down the 700 steps.
Again, 700 STEPS!
I finally make it to the bats, and now just have to wait for them to fly out.
Then all of a sudden I feel someone rubbing my shoulders and telling me I owe $1 for pictures. It is one of the hotel staff. He is all happy to see me here, and sits down beside me. He gives me a history lesson on the bats, and area. Such a nice guy!
20 minutes goes by, and then they start flying out. Wow! truly amazing! Unfortunately my camera doesn’t do it justice.
I watch it for about 15 minutes, and love all 15 minutes of it.
When we arrive back at the hotel, Thean is sitting there. He asks me if I want to come with him to a party.
We get to this grand opening of a restaurant, where we meet his friends. Again, they treat me like I am a king or something. One guy immediately gives up his seat for me. I say, no, but he doesn’t accept that.
Very quickly we are all chatting and they are offering me food, drinks, and more drinks. They tell me I am not allowed to pay, this is a grand opening.
You have no idea how amazing I feel being around these guys.
After dinner we all head over to another bar, where Flower, the girl in the one picture works.
Here the drinks are not free and I buy the first round. However, I was no longer allowed to buy any more drinks. They told me it is not allowed, they are paying.
Again, I can’t explain how much this type of hospitality means to me. It is truly amazing.
The night doesn’t stop here. After, Flower takes me to another party. This one is crazy fun, but I am getting to drunk.
She gives me some blue drink that is almost pure vodka, and after that drink, I am done. I walk home, which I do not remember, but I think it is 3 am.
Walking through Battambang at that time of morning was actually very safe. I felt fine and was not worried.
The next day I sleep in, and then eventually get my ass out of bed. I see Thean and ask him to take me on a tour around Battambang. He says sure, and we head out.
During the tour, he stops to say hi and pick up a friend of his named Cher. Cher is a pretty nice guy, and speaks OK English.
10 minutes into the tour, Cher asks me if I want to go with him tomorrow to his Mango Farm. I say, Yes. I don’t even know this guy, and he wants to take me to see his farm. Pretty cool.
I didn’t get any good pictures that night because, well, it was dark.
The next morning at 8:30 am Cher picks me up and we drive 1.5 hours out to his farm. On the way, he buys fruit for us, and he is another Cambodian who will not let me pay when I offer. He tells me, he is lucky to have met me, and this is his honour to treat me.
I really like Cher!
At this farm I get the full tour, and then they cooked me lunch. Rice, Coconut, and soup. I am telling you, they know how to cook!
Oh yes, the coconut was picks right in front of me!
After lunch we drive back to Battambang. On the way, Cher asks me to come back to Cambodia and stay longer next year. I think this would be amazing, and I really want to do this.
Shortly after we arrive back, Flower sends me a message and asks if I want to come out for a drink with her. Can you guess? I say Yes!
She picks me up on her scooter and I ride on the back. This is the second time I have ridden on the back with her driving and I like it. I can play on my phone, do my hair, and don’t have to worry about running into someone. She is a pretty good driver!
This night is the same as the last. I meet a few new people, but these are expats, and not locals. However, just as much fun. Actually too much, as the next day I feel it. haha.
Over the next day, I have coffee with Thean a few times, have many conversations with the hotel staff, and one conversation I won’t forget. Vany one of the guys I met with Thean gave me a history tour on Cambodia. He is a really cool guy, and I love our conversations.