Manatu

Pig's Ear Park and Other Adventures

Month: January 2015

Battambong

Was , correction is the nicest place I have stayed in Cambodia. Has an excellent rice yield up here so that is probably why…
Hotel Bambu has nice meals, good Cambodian food or Western if you want it. I have had fresh spring rolls, satays, prawns and a few other bits…
Collected yesterday morning by the guide in a tuk tuk with two bikes on the back. Seat was adjusted and off we wobbled..Tuktuk in the lead, just in case apparently.

Biked alongside a creek that was full of appalling rubbish, but the villages passed definitely did not seem so pOor.
Finally got inside one of the wedding tents, all very western, with satin covered chairs mind you, done out in purple. Must cost a mint, brides parents pay and the reception goes on for two days. One has just started up again and it is 5.30 am…
Ear plugs are provided y the hotel with a note saying there is NITHING they can do about the noise…Just a distant wail really above the noisy fan.

Went and investigated a family on thier rice patch. Mum, was sixty, and prodded at my arm to check my age..she got a shock when I showed her my white stomach, she hooted with laughter.
She was the matriach, two sons and daughters inlaw. She had one ha and had cut about 8, 70 kg bags of rice. That is with the husks on,will be less dried Keeps them in rice for a year..
The males were humping the great big bags up onto a cart to take it somewhere to be dried.

It seems any open space will do, takes about three days to dry. I remember seeing rice spread out on the unused Ho Chi Minh highway in Vietnam.

Next stop a fish paste making market. Women chop up the tiny fish from the river, Tonle sap river, and mix it with salt and leave it to ferment in large barrels, Very pongy, the men were all playing cards, saw that quite a bit, women work, men supervise..

Next stop was another temple, quite destroyd so declined to enter. Back into the tuk tuk as I refused to ride in town, to see the French colonial architecture…mmmmm

Then back to the hotel for lunch. I was supposed to do another two temples in the afternoon plus some dance thing in the pm..told the guide to bugger off and collect me tomorrow, which is now today….
I tried to do a couple of hours volunteer stuff at the local group who offer English lessons, but does not operate at the weekends.
So snoozed, drank beer and read instead. Put my swimming togs on but did not venture in, well it was only thirty degrees outside…

Enjoyed my afternoon and evening. Learning to read using the ipad, find I want to turn the page.

So this morning, am being picked up at 6.30 am for a three hour hike , by Camry I hope, to Siem Reap where I catch a flight to Singapore, then ten and a half hours later arrive in Auckland…
Hope it is not as rough a flight home as it was coming over….

Have just got to Siem Reap, sure my guide for this leg is in training to be a communist functionary…Everything is my fault…also he constsantly tells me the same “facts”, population etc etc…he got a miserable tip…

Forgot to mention the visit to the sweet/dessert making factory
it sort of summed up conditions for the poor in Cambodia.
Imagine a large open but quite dark shed, at the entrance was a young boy dehusking coconuts with a viscious looking instrument made of two pieces of reinforcing steel, about 45 cms long attached to the end was a pair of very sharp blades which he inserted into the cocnut, gave a hard twist and the husk came away.He would have been about ten, if that.
A bit further in a woman was cutting up the coconut with a very sharp machete, alongside her were two tiny boys, hers? one of them was making the same whacking motion as the bigger boy did to open the coconuts, the tiny boy had a couple of old nails which he banged into the earth.
Obviously they go to work with Mum and spend all day in the shed.
A bit further in, four blazing fires with big cauldrons of water on them, into these go trays of coconut “stuff” which sets and becomes a dessert.

Behind this lot are women squatting on platforms grating coconuts,beyond that again women mixing up cocnut , sugar and whatever else that made up the dessert. Could have pointed out the work flow was wrong but did notthink they would appreciate it.
Beyond that again was a fire roaring away burning up coconut husks. It was thirty plus yesterday and this is the cool season. It was as hot as hell in the shed. There were quite afew little kids around, overall boss was male.
So, no pre school care for these kids, in fact no school either probably.

Just made me feel sad.

Grumpy Bird

After eight hours in a Honda CRV , old, with a hard suspension , not a happy bird….
I moaned about twenty minutes out but told I should have complained yesterday, well yesterday was just a few short hops….Said I wanted a Camry ….. have had one so far each day in Cambodia….much phoning etc but only get one if I waited three hours in some dusty hole….By this time of course we were well on the road….
Getting one tomorrow though, mainly because I leave here at 6.30 am day after tomorrow,for three plus hours to Siem Reap…

Lunch was interesting with this pair, told i had to pay for any drinks, never have them, then they proceeded to order up large, steamboat, fish, mango salad etc, I had fried rice. This lunch bill will be glaringly different from the noodle soups I/we usually have…

Scenery was abit better today, and the road definitely was, would have been good in a Camry!!!!

One interesting stop at a floating village, onto a rickety boat and out past all the floating houses, quite poor of course, but there were machine shops doing quite heavy machinery, probably boat motors, laundries and many one roomed dwellings with the out house tacked on one end, straight into the river…
Saw a dog expertly crap into the river from his deck!
Now, the fish that was eaten came from that river…Saw women washing pots and utensils in the river……
Hard living I would expect with high mortality.

Suspect my three day add on for here has been condensed into one busy day tomorrow. I paid nine hundred dollars for it!!!!!

Had an interesting discussion with the tour operator just before…he did not expect me to know about hard suspensions or how long it took to bike 5 ks, which the guide said the bike ride was…Suggested he do a comparative exercise between his brochure and what I am getting, having paid for the brochure deal….

I also questioned the wisdom of sending me down to Phom Penh and then back up north, rather like sending someone from Auckland to Taupo, then up to the Bay of Islands then down to Napier to fly back out of Auckland..

Well I am allowed one serious moan….

Phom Penh

Tempted to leave this blank…apart from the Royal Palace and the Silver Pagoda, not much to see.
I also went to the National Museum, interesting to see where textiles started emerging, about 16 cbut sure there was weaving here before that.
Also interesting to see the Monash University interpretation of what Angkor Wat city looked like in its hey day, David it maybe what you saw….
Found out today that Angkor Wat is supposedly owned by the Vietnamese and lesed back to the Cambodians, seems far fetched but there is little evidence of the money one pays to enter gets spent in Cambodia…

Went to the shop, Daughters of Cambodia, where ex sex workers are given an opportunity to kearn new skills to the enable them to survive without that particular industry. Also a section in the shop called Sons of Cambodia…,,
Also tried to get to Trunkh but closed for the holiday, only shop in town that was shut….

Went to the Russian Market, but bought sime silk from a shop opposite….
Toddled back to the hotel for a much needed zzzz.
Went out to the mall next to the hotel, full of goodies, and amazingly ran into the couple I had met in Luang Prabang.
Had drinks with them, staying in the same hotel but in a much swankier room….they declined the expensive dinner as well

We decided that Laos wins in the scenery and charm stakes ….but then there is Angkor Wat…
I read in abook that Cambodia may have been better off without it as it would have had to do more to earn money…..

So tomorrow another long trip, 290 ks, not sure why I did not go to Battambang from Siem Reap…however the guide assures me that it is a better trip…

New Year’s Degustation Dinner

Sorry Joan I could not help myself….
Here I am at the Sofitel in Pnom Penh and true to type I turn down the 150 us dinner with all the Dom Perginon I can drink for;
Sushi from theh supermarket
accompanied hy Angkor Beer
Jack Fruit chips
Accompanied by Angkor stout(yum!)
two bananas accompanied by Mandarin Vodka
to be followed by at some point..
Pot Noodles, more vodka
to be followed by…
weird fruit from the fruit basket
damn only up to five courses and a total cost in my very expensive room of about six bucks….
For got I have little lemon atrts from somwhere…

Second New Years eve alone, T was admitted to the hospice last New Years eve and I think my menu was something similar.

Anyway, up about seven am and wandered down to breakfast which as I suspected was being cooked on an open fire, a not too bad omelette and great coffee, best I have had here….

Then a long hard drive to Phom Penh. Lunch was awful, trip to a toilet somewhere weird gave me cause for concern over the sanitation of my feet, get the idea….

The road was awful, bits are Ok but most is just unsealed and bumpy..gets done every year apparently, but never done properly. The road from Phom Penh to Sianoukville was made by the Yanks in 1974 and is still Ok.

Saw three bridges today with carved out kangaroos inscribed in them, yes, the Aussies built them.

Visited two temples today but think even Ran was finding it hard to enthuse….he has to go back the way we came and smile and wave at twenty Slovaks tomorrow. I must have have seemed a doddle, even if he had to help me down and up steps….Why on earth such small people have such huge steps is beyond me….apparently it should not be easy to reach Nirvana….

Tomorrow I have declined the Killing Fields and the school where the people where killed, all 16,000 plus ! over two million altogether were bumped by Pol Pot…
I do not do, sad or awful places unless they are many hundreds of years old…

Not sure how it happened but the day after tomorrow I schlep back up north to ride a bike around some paddy fields. I would have thought that such an expensive company could organise similar events in similar places.. I actually fly out of Siem Reap….but no time to go back to Angkor Wat….well amybe we will see about that…
Happy New Year, just off to boil the expensive jug for the noodles….

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