We’re in Kuala Lumpur right now and Steve is sick, so I’m taking the opportunity to update, again! I left off in Ubud, Bali, where many exciting things were happening, such as swimming, arak, and monkeys. What has become of Steve and Radey since then? Will they ever make it to a yoga class? Have they fallen into a volcano? Read on to find out!
Another update so soon? Calm down everyone, the world is not ending! I’ve simple managed to do something to my computer to make it sort of work. It’s basically the equivalent of fixing your 30 year old TV by fashioning an antenna out of a wire hanger, taping the screen back together, and hitting it to make it turn on. Anyway, today I flew from Solo, Indonesia, to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Before I can talk about that, I must get everyone updated! You wouldn’t read Harry Potter out of order, would you? No! So you won’t read about my
wizarding adventures aimless wanderings out of order, either. Continuing on from the last post:
Visiting Patong just made our trip to Koh Phi Phi, another island, that much nicer. Koh Phi Phi is about a two hour ferry ride from Phuket, and unfortunately the weather was bad when we set out. Despite feeling queasy before getting on the boat, I was one of the lucky ones who didn’t puke. Once we arrived, the weather had cleared up temporarily and a nice lady at a dive shop gave us a little map of the town and pointed us in the direction of budget accommodation. Budget anything is hard to find on an island as small as Phi Phi, at least by Thailand standards. We ended up paying $20 a night for a nice but flimsy room where Steve was kept up at night by drunk people shouting, which I mostly slept through.
I’ve been writing my blog, I swear I have, I just haven’t been able to post it, okay? It’s just as frustrating for me as it is for you, dear reader. My computer is possibly just a brick with a picture of a computer glued to it and as a result only connects to the Internet a fortnight into Ramadan when a plane is flying overhead and someone in the room lays down and balances a bottle of water on their stomach. Surprisingly, those things don’t all happen at once very often.
I left off a long time ago in Bangkok, the last time my computer managed a connection to the scary world of Internet. I’ll just post a portion of update at a time so as not to overwhelm anyone and just hope that the fix I made to my computer isn’t temporary.
Enough whining about nonworking electronics making it difficult to share my self-indulgent, pointless stories: here’s a self-indulgent, pointless story about what happened in Bangkok and Phuket!
A lot has happened since my last update…well, sort of. I was in Nha Trang when I left off and I ended up working at a hotel for a couple weeks before I left and flew home to Seattle because I met ~*~A sUpEr HoTtiE bOyThInG~**~~~ before I left and I decided I wanted to be with him. We just arrived in Bangkok yesterday and the plan is to travel around SE Asia together.
On June 4th, Steve and I flew to England to see his family. They live in Hinckley, a town between Birmingham and Leicester. Our first day there we slept in until four in the afternoon because we’re lazy jetlagged slobs. The next day Steve’s parents took us to Stratford-upon-Avon and we visited Shakespeare’s house. Well, probably most likely it was Shakespeare’s house, and maybe some of the things in it were from the time period? There’s a lot of conjecture. Another day we went to a town in the Cotswolds and ended up going through a maze. I met a load of Steve’s extended family, we went to Birmingham, and planned to go to Manchester.
But then, on Tuesday, June 12th, I received news that my beloved grandmother had passed away. My aunt used her air miles to get me a flight home on Sunday for the funeral on the 19th. Before I left, I went to Castleton with Steve’s family for two nights (Friday and Saturday) and we visited Chatsworth House.
So Sunday I flew back to Seattle from Heathrow with a transfer in Vancouver. Tuesday was the funeral, Wednesday I flew back to London and stayed at a hostel on Thursday night, then met Steve at Gatwick airport and flew to Kiev, Ukraine, where we stayed overnight before our flight to Bangkok. Whew! It would have been an exhausting week even without the flights.
But now we’re in Bangkok, sweltering. Later I might give some exciting details on the flights or Kiev or something, but for now I’m just glad I got a summary out. Finally!
Yesterday morning I got on a bus in Phnom Penh and headed to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) in Vietnam. I arrived at around three in the afternoon and quickly found my hostel, which was thankfully located only about a block from the bus stop. HCMC is HUGE. Especially after Phnom Penh. It feels big and metropolitan and crazy. So far Vietnam is already way different from Cambodia. At least HCMC seems a lot wealthier than PP and a lot more of a proper city.
The day before yesterday I went to the Killing Fields, about 40 minutes out of Phnom Penh. I hired someone on a motorbike to take me out and the first person I asked wanted to charge me $15 for a round trip and laughed when I said I wasn’t paying that much! So I said I would find someone else and I did and paid $6 and even thought I could have paid less.
Once I got there, I got an audio guide and walked around listening to it. It’s a pretty depressing place. According to the audio guide, Pol Pot banned religion and education and had all the educated people and monks and such executed. He also had entire families executed, including children and babies so they wouldn’t seek revenge later in life. Pleasant guy.
That evening I went to the riverfront where there were synchronized exercise classes going on. I noticed there were a few of those in Siem Reap, as well. They’re always set to really loud, cheesy dance music and the instructor always wears at least one sweatband.
The bus ride to Ho Chi Minh City was uneventful. My evening was uneventful. I had a headache so I went to bed at 6:30 and slept for 12 hours. I awoke briefly to call a girl a bad name because I was dreaming someone was stealing my stuff, but that’s about it. Now I’m at a cafe and I’ve been sitting here for about half the day pretending to get things done but really just talking to people on skype/facebook.
I had to come back to Phnom Penh to get extra pages put in my passport at the US embassy. It took about an hour but I got 48 extra pages. Hoorah! That should last me for a bit. It did cost $82, though.
I took a sleeper bus from Siem Reap to get here, which had three rows of narrow bunk beds. I was on the top and there was only about a foot of railing. The ride was so bumpy I was in constant fear of falling off, at least while I was awake.
This morning I went to the Central Market and got some little coconut cakes that are SO GOOD. I passed by the stall where they were baking them in tiny little pans and got one and had to go back to get a pack of six. The vendor seemed very amused. I gave one to a French girl at my hostel and she said it reminds her of something they have at home.
I think this afternoon I’ll go to the Killing Fields (mass grave where Pol Pot’s regime executed 17,000 people in the 1970s) and tomorrow morning I’ll get up early and take a bus to Ho Chi Minh City. Finally, I’ll be in Vietnam! I’m definitely ready to leave Cambodia. Tomorrow I’ll be eating pho!
For the last few days I’ve been volunteering at a school teaching English. I’m staying in Siem Reap and the school is about 7 kilometers away, so I ride a bike there and back. Navigating the traffic can be freaky, especially since it’s unheard of to wear a helmet on a bike, but I’m pretty sure no one is going to hit me. I just have to make sure I don’t run into anything. Yesterday I was pretty hungover so I was yelling at people to get out of the way as I was cruising along. Cambodians seem to ride bicycles ridiculously slowly. I can’t go that slow without falling over. I also feel just a bit of rage every time I see a motorbike going down the wrong side of the road.
The classes are fine, but I feel pretty stupid because I don’t know what I’m doing and it’s hard to explain things considering I don’t speak Cambodian. I end up drawing a lot of pictures. The book the adult class is using is from England and it assumes that everyone using the book is used to a certain standard of living. I was trying to explain the concept of retiring when you’re old and they did not understand at all. The unit right now has a lot of stuff about expensive activities like traveling, skiing, and diving, plus the grammar lesson is on “going to”, and I feel like an ass asking things like, “Where/when are you going to travel?” Of course they want to visit Italy and Japan and the USA and everywhere, but probably they aren’t “going to” any time soon. I’ve also been told multiple times that Cambodians don’t have free time for hobbies.
Yesterday one of the best students in the kids’ class was trying to teach me to say things in Cambodian during the break. She’s such a sweet little girl and I really hope she gets to continue her education, especially since she seems so excited to learn.
During my break between classes I sit in the library/computer room/office/break room and practice English with some of the guys in one of the other classes. One of them wants me to be his girlfriend and keeps trying to hold my hand, even though I told him I have a boyfriend. The other guys said I have to bring a picture or he isn’t real. They can’t seem to understand how I could have a boyfriend who would let me go out and travel alone, or even let me go to bars and hang out with other guys. They said it must be because he’s seeing other girls at home. Apparently if a Cambodian man has a girlfriend then he doesn’t let her out of his sight. I’ve also heard that if you see a Cambodian girl alone at a bar then it means she’s a prostitute. Bit screwy.
Last night the power was out at my guesthouse when I got back. Well, the entire block was out. I thought it seemed awfully dark when I turned down the street, and if it hadn’t been for a tuk tuk’s headlights I might have accidentally run over a stupid dog standing in my way. There were candles everywhere and it was ridiculously hot without the fans going.
What would a Radey blog post be without at least a paragraph about food? My first day teaching I ate lunch at the school owner’s house with his family. One of the dishes was a salad made from green mangoes, prepared like that hot and sour cucumber salad I make sometimes, and it was so good. Mostly I’ve been eating fried noodles and noodle soup. Interesting stuff.