Battambang – Osoam – Off-Road Riding

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 🙂.

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Mr. Chea’s soon, Lay Hok, is riding a mini sport bike.  I think they are 150cc.
I want one!

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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!

Beautiful sunrise!

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.

Our turn!

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.

Check out my video with some extra footage.

Siem Reap – Donations and Volunteering

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.

http://justteaching.org/

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!

Check out World Of Hope School
http://www.worldofhopeschool.org/

At the moment that is the end of the donations until I move onto another location or find another great school to donate too.

The rest of my time in Siem Reap will be spent volunteer teaching at Stung Thmey Primary School with Vichhai Chhoeng.

On a final note, don’t forget that the world is made up of amazing people, and don’t be negative over the simple, small stupid things!  Instead live on the positives you see everyday!

Siem Reap – Second scam in Cambodia

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 – Friends, more friends, and what more friends

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.

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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!

If you are in Cambodia, check out Thean’s website.
https://www.facebook.com/banana.bbtour/

After our coffee, I head back to the hotel but on my walk I see tones of crazy Cambodian things.  They have no fear!

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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.

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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.

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It is almost time for the bats, so I head down the 700 steps.

Again, 700 STEPS!

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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!

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20 minutes goes by, and then they start flying out.  Wow! truly amazing!  Unfortunately my camera doesn’t do it justice.

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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.

Hell yes!

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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Oh yes, the coconut was picks right in front of me!

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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.

 

If are in Cambodia, check out Vany’s website.
http://smilenettour.blogspot.com/

 

I am really glad I do not have those emotional feelings when leaving people, because this would be hard to leave my new friends tomorrow.

On to new adventures, and I hope I see them again someday!

Battambang – Great, I shit myself again!

While in Pursat, my nausea still continues.  I feel like shit, and consistently feel like I am going to puke, and I am having a hard time swallowing.  However, the good news I realized why I feel like this.

My doctor back home gave me pills for control my IBS.  I only started taking them a 1 month ago, even though I got them 5 months ago.  Yea, yeah, that’s how I am!  But for the first time ever, I didn’t even read the label, I just took them twice a day, when it said once a day.   Normally I would read the label, and research the hell out of them.

Well, I should have!

I am actually taking Codeine at a large does and this is causing me to get nausea, with problems swallowing.  A common side-effect.

So I stopped taking the pills, and I am feeling better, but now I am having withdraws.  I read it should only last a few days.  Oh well, not something that will ever stop me from doing what I want.

So, I catch the 10 am bus to Battambang and I feel good enough.  All I am concerned about is not shitting my pants.

What type of bus is this though.  They are playing karaoke, and a few people are singing to it.  Please save me!

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OK, it is not that bad, actually really funny, until they play “Achy Breaky heart”.  This is where I draw the line. hahaha.

About 1 hour into the bus ride, I feel a very familiar pain.   I am cramping!  Oh, please no!  I am not going to shit my pants again!  I am determined to hold it.

20 minutes goes by, and the cramps are crazy.  I look at my GPS and see we are close, another 5 or 10 minutes.

At this point I am running all scenarios through my head.  “What are the chances there will be a toilet at the bus stop?”, “Can I ask the driver to stop and I will go behind the bus?”, “How far can I duck walk before it comes out?”, “If I shit myself, how obvious will it be?”

Well, I make it to the bus stop, and the turtle head is still in his shell!  I grab my backpack and see there is a toilet 40 steps away.  I feel confident I will make it.  I start with a slow walk, which quickly turns into my famous duck walk.  Each step I am praying to my poop gods, to allow me, just this one more time to make it.

5 steps to go, I am going to make it.

Somehow, I don’t know how, but I make it.  The only fun is it is squat toilet, no paper, and only a bucket with a cup to dump water on your hand and clean yourself.  Whatever, I don’t care anymore.  I made it!

Just another amazing adventure and I am so thankful I am only going to Battambang and not the 5 hours to Siam Reap.

I am here Battambang, and I am going to leave my mark in every toilet!

 

 

Pursat – Cambodia – Nice little town

Pursat is a nice little town, with a lot of friendly locals.  When I asked where I could buy some school supplies to send back to Osoam Village, everyone wanted to help.  Especially the little girl at the front desk.  She even showed me her books, and explained where in the market I can find them.

The market is only 2 blocks away, and was easy to find.  Tones of vendors, and weird things to see.  I only wish I could explain the smell.  Wow, a little strong for me.  I guess it is like working on a farm back home, you just have to get used to it.

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I was able to find the school books and coloring pencils.   There was 10 kids in the school, so I bought 15 of each item to send back.

Some of the stuff I got.

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The hotel contacted someone who is going to Osoam and delivered the stuff for only $1 the next day.

I stayed in Pursat for 3 nights.  There wasn’t anything really exciting in the town, but 4 days gives me time to explorer and meet locals.

Here are some of the pictures from Pursat.

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On my last day, I was chatting with the young staff girl, and I was going to reserve a bus to Siem Reap, when she told me the bus also stops at Battambang.  So, I asked her what is there to see, she said, “I don’t know, but they have bats.”  She has never been there.

So, for $3 dollars, and 1.5 hour bus ride, why not.  I am going to Battambang.

Goodbye to a friendly little town!

Osoam Village – Living 150 KM in Jungle and Teaching English

Long story short is, I saw a poster that said come volunteer to teach English in Osoam Village 150 Kilometers in the  Cardamom Mountains Jungle.  My first thought was, “Hell Yes!”

The next morning a local car comes and picks me up from my guest house, and we leave.  5 minutes later we pull into a large vacant lot, with a few broken down buses.

I have no idea what is going on, as no one speaks English.  I just assume the guy driving the car knew where I was going and would point to me, when I should go somewhere?

Over the next 15 minutes a few other locals stand near me, and the driver is adding more and more things to the car roof, trunk, back seat.  When the car is almost over full, other than the two front seats.  He does point at me and then points to the passenger seat.

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Next, all 4 other people pack into the back seat, and me into the front seat.  So, I guess this is the car we are taking to Osoam Village, or another vacant field, who knows.

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3 hours of driving down roads with little structure, we drop off 2 passengers, and some stuff.

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Now we are a lot less crowded, but I still have no idea where we are.  The roads are getting smaller and less smooth.

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Another hour goes by, and it is now dark.  I see a sign that says Osoam Community.  OMG – we are here!  But the driver does not stop.

Another 20 minutes and I am starting to wonder, there are no houses, people, nothing.

Just as I am about to try and ask where we are, we pull up to a little village of 3 or 4 wooden shacks.

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I am here!

Lim greats me with a big hello and he has a big dinner all ready for me.  Wow, this is an impressive greeting.

That night after dinner, we sit around a fire and talk about the village, and Lim’s goals for it.

He wants to create a self sustaining community, where they don’t need to ask for money, or help.  He also is dead seat on it being Eco Friendly.  I like this!

A little about Lim:
Lim was born just before the killings in Cambodia hit in the late 1970s.  His family was forced to hide in the jungle for 7 years, where they lived off of the jungle.  They eventually got shelter in a refugee camp in Thailand.  Where they stayed for 5 years until the killings stopped, and then moved back to Cambodia.  For the next few years they all worked on their farm, until he was about 17 years old, when his parents allowed him to start kindergarten.  Yes, Kindergarten at the age of 17.  Now look at him, running a community, speaks English! Wow, truly impressive.  I really admire this guy.

Around 6:30 am I wake up and head down the the toilet to do a little paper work, when I see 10 year old Sreyka, doing laundry.  No one has asked her to do this, she just gets up and does it.

Two things! One, can you picture your kids doing this?  Two, notice this is by hand!

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After coffee, fresh papaya and mango, Lim, his wife, two locals, and myself jump into his truck and go around the village.

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He shows me the different farms around the area, and then we drive down behind one of the farms, where he shows me some of the new plantations.

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When they cleared the land, all of the wood that was cut, was made into lumber for the locals to use to build homes, etc.  We are going to get some of the lumber, so Lim can finish another hut for tourist to stay in.

This is no easy task, but these strong Cambodians do it with ease.  I carried only a few boards down the 1/4 KM hill and was burned out.  They must have done it 5 or 6 times.  Even Lim’s wife does it, with a smile too.

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30 minute drive back to Osoam Village, where we empty the truck and have lunch.

After lunch Lim, his youngest daughter and wife need to go to Koh Kong, where I came from yesterday to see a doctor.

Image that, having to travel 3 to 4 hours anytime you need supplies or a doctor.  Lim told me that this is not a good place for a women to get pregnant.  He also told me some sad stories of what has happened in the past.

Just before Lim leaves, he says to me, “Wait 30 more minutes, then go to the school to teach the kids English!”.  I ask, “do I need to be introduced?”  He says, “No, you are the teacher!”

I wait a little while and then walk over.  The kids are happy to see me, and are all ready to learn.

I say Hello, they all yell Hello back!

There is no lesson plan, so I decide to just teach them the names of everyday objects.  The first one is Chair.  When I write it on the board, they all write in their books.

I have never seen such eager kids wanting to learn.  They keep asking for new words, and wanting me to say the word over and over, while they repeat it.

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The one little girl is a teacher’s pet, I can tell.  I did not make my R clear enough and she comes up to the board, erases mine and writes the exact correct way to draw an R.  I should have taken a picture because he penmanship was better than any ones I have ever seen.

School house

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I spent about an hour or so with them, and that was the length of their attention span.  Lim had already told me 1 hour is about the limit.

The rest of the day I spent relaxing by the water, walking around, and just enjoying the day.  Lim and his family will not be back until tomorrow.

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The morning is a nice relaxing morning, where I just enjoy the quietness.  I take little walks around, but nothing really exciting.

Eventually it is time to teach, and I head over to the school.  The brats are already there and waiting.  Again, I have never seen such eagerness to learn.

This hour goes by fast, and the kids are ready for playtime.  I take this time to gather a few more pictures of memories.

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Lim and his family are back from koh Kong, and I join him to see what’s new.  He has brought a truck load of gravel for some of the walkways, to help with the mud situation when it rains.

Two of the students jump right in and start emptying the truck.  The work on and off until late that night.

Impressive!

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That evening Lim takes me and his daughter out for a boat ride, to introduce me to some locals living down the river, and to also show me more wildlife.

His little girl is so damn funny.  She has no fear, and also loves grabbing my finger, when she wants to pull me in her direction.  Her English is pretty good too!

She is emptying the water out of the boat.

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Some pictures from the boat and one of a 10 year old boy fishing on his own.

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That night, I sadly have to inform Lim that I am leaving tomorrow, after only 3 nights.  My stomach has been really bad the last 2 or 3 weeks, and I have been ignoring it.  But the nausea feeling is getting worse, and I think I should be closer to a pharmacy/doctor if needed.  I don’t want to leave and am really sad.

Lim and I have another few good conversation, and I tell him I am going to help him promote his village.  I am currently working on his website, Facebook page, etc.

Check it out!
http://osoamcbet.weebly.com

The next morning around 6:30 am I get up and get ready for my 4/5 hour commute to Pursat.

But look at this, those two boys are already working on finishing emptying the truck.  CRAZY!  Sreyka is up and doing some stuff around also.

I don’t know how many times it will take me, but it is still a shock when I see how great these kids are.

Goodbye Osoam Village, and thank you, to Lim and his family for making me feel like a family member, and not a guest.

Check out my video, with some great shots of the kids, area, and wildlife.

Krong Khemara Phoumin – Cambodia – First few days

I have been in Krong Khemara Phoumin, Cambodia for a few days now, and my first impression was mixed.  I met a few taxi drivers that were a little unfriendly, but I was also met by several young kids saying Hello.  The town is very dirty compared to other Asian countries I have been too.  So, I really did not know what to think.

Now that I have been here a few days, I am getting a true impression of Cambodia and it is a good one.

The food and living cost are the cheapest I have seen.  My average meal cost around $1.30 CAD, or 5000 KDR.  My hotel room, which is very nice, the staff are even nicer, only cost $10 CAD a night.  My cell phone SIM card cost me $2.50 CAD, and 4 GB of data for 1 month cost $7.50 CAD.  However, the cell connection is not great, which kills the battery always trying to get a connection. But that is besides my point.

In Krong Khemara Phoumin, not a lot of people have even basic English, because it is not a tourist city.  If it was a tourist city, I am sure more people would have the basics.  However, it hasn’t been a problem.  When I am needing something and the person doesn’t speak a few words English, they yell, and I truly mean yell for a friend who does.  It’s funny and rather fun.

The area I am in doesn’t have a lot to offer as in site seeing, but to me, I love it.  I have not seen another foreigner in 3 days, basically since I arrived in this town and it makes things so much more interesting.  The kids here, more so the little girls, always say, “Hello!”, with a big smile and sometimes want a high five.  Even better is the adult males and what they do.  Here is a funny and odd story.

I was walking down the street and I noticed a policeman or army  guy walking fast towards me.  My first thought was, oh shit, I do not have my Id on me.  When he gets to me, he starts saying a few words in English, but I couldn’t understand him.  I was not panicking yet, but I was not sure what was happening.  When all of sudden he pulls out his cell phone.  Then I think, OK, I pulled mine out also, because I thought he was going to use a translator.  Nope! I was wrong.  He pulls up Facebook and shows me, he has a friend who is White as well.  He shows me several pictures of them posing together, him with a AK47 or some sort of army rifle and the other guy, just smiling.   By now, I am starting to understand his broken English and he asks where I am from.  I tell him Canada, and he loves this.  Big Smile.  His last question is how long I am in town for, and I told him only a few days, then I will move to a new location in Cambodia.  He seems sad that I am not staying.  He then quickly says goodbye with another big smiles, and runs back to … I think work, or whatever he was doing.

These are reasons I get away from tourist and go to towns where everyone tells me are shitty, and nothing to see.  Yes, maybe they are correct, but the hospitality, and unique encounters you have, make it not shitty, it actually makes it amazing.

Some random pictures from around town.

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Here is something you don’t see or hear about back home.

Most of the restaurants, which are basically street food, with tarp roofs.  These places are family owned, and the entire family helps.  My favorite place to go is one street away from my hotel, and the dad, has 2 sons, and 3 daughters.  I am guessing the oldest soon is around 21, and the youngest daughter is 13.  All 5 kids work and work hard, and the most impressive is the 13 year old girl.  She never complains, and she runs her own section where she sells buns, with warm meat in them.  When she has no customers, she is a kid, playing and teasing her sisters, but when she has a customer, it is all business.  Very impressive at that age, to be able to do both, and enjoy it.

I believe that is the 13 year old in the pink or her older sister.  The handsome guy with a beard is me!

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Here is the most expensive meal I have had.  This was breakfast, and it cost me 6500 KDR, ($1.50 USD, $1.90 CAD), and the beers below are showing prices in USA, and Cambodia Repel.

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Check out the video of my hotel room at an expensive $8 USD or $10.20 Canadian per night, with HOT WATER!

This is going to be my last blog post for a little while!

I am heading into Osoam Village in the jungle, to volunteer teaching English and helping build stuff.  I have only a little understanding of what I am getting myself into, so wish me luck!

Cambodia – Here I come, I think

Before I go into details about my travel to Cambodia, I have to tell you about getting my Minibus ticket.

At the only street vendor who sells minibus tickets to Cambodia, I ask if they go to chem seiam border.  I show the girl on a map where it is, and also show her google maps, which shows the translation.  It takes a few minutes, but finally I think we are talking about the same place.  She first kept thinking I want to go to siem reap because that is where all tourist go.  I am NOT a tourist!

Anyways, she makes a few calls, and says, she has 2 seats open for tomorrow.  This is great, the price is 550 baht ($20), which includes the ferry to the mainland.  Remember, I am still on an Island.

So, all is good!

This is where the story actually begins.

7 am and I am at the vendors desk waiting for the minibus.  It is a really nice day, and to top it off, a Monk is walking by and says, “Good morning” in English to me.  This has made my day. I am all smiles.

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Not long later the Minibus pulls up and says, “Siem Reap” and I thought I heard him wrong, then he says, “Cambodia” in broken English.  I am like, yes, yes.  I show my my ticket and he loads me in.

As we are driving, a girl around my age is in the seat in front of me and I notice she is fucking CRAZY!  She is singing, annoying the driver, calling a local crazy.  What is wrong with her!

A guy behind me says, he thinks she is drunk or just losing her mind.

This gives us all something to talk about, and I find out the other 4 guys on the bus are from Germany and going to Siem Reap.

WTF!  Ok, maybe after the ferry, we all go to the bus terminal in Trat, and where we go on different buses?

We arrive at the ferry and I ask the driver.  He tells me this is for only Siem Reap.  My ticket is written in Thai and he tells me it says Siem Reap, not chem seiam. 

At this moment, I am thinking, “what are my options?”  I can go there, or I can get a ride to the Trat bus station.  I ask him if he can drop me off there. He says, he is not allowed, but tells me he can drop me off at another minibus location.  He calls and confirms they have a seat.

This is OK.  I have the ferry ride to think it over.

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I really want to go to chem seiam, so I decide to take the other minibus.

The other minibus wants another 400 baht, but I give my sad face and show her I already paid 550 baht to another company who took me to the wrong place, and she gives me a new deal, 300 baht ($11 CAD).  I say, Yes.  Still a great deal for a 2 hour bus ride.

A little while later we arrive at the Cambodian border and we all walk across.  I leave the group from this Minibus because they are tourist, and tourist normally act like dicks, and ask to many questions.

Even though I know all the scams, and I still get caught in one.  A taxi driver tries to tell me to follow him.  I do not and go towards the arrivals office, but as I am going up the steps, trying to avoid scammers, a guy who looks like an immigration officer says this way.  So I walk over to him.  He points a heat gun at my head and pulls the trigger.  It reads my head temperature, and then he says, “20 baht!”

This is a health check scam! And I got caught.

I tell him it is a scam, but another guy blocks me from leaving, and I just decide to pay the 20 baht, which is less than a dollar.

Another guy calls me, and I ignore him as I see the actual arrival window.  I walk over, they give me an immigration form.  I fill it in and hand it back with my papers.  2 minutes later I have a passport stamp and I am on my way through the border.

I get harassed by many locals for taxi, and other things.  I finally decide to take a car taxi to 99 Guest House.  I bargain down to 350 baht ($15 CAD) for a 26 km ride.  I know I can get it for $5 from a motorbike, but I am tired and just want comfort.

It all goes great, and I am now in Cambodia.  My room is really nice, and it only cost $10 a night.

Hello Cambodia!  Check out my first Cambodian beer with a pull tab for 80 cents Canadian.

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