Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Sihanoukville, Koh Trang, Kratie

Sihanoukville was a city that seemed better planned than most. Big streets and new clinics... But still the sides of the streets were filled with litter, stray dogs, and paranoid chicken.

There were also a lot more travelers compared to the places I had been that last week, young dudes and dudettes in tank tops and tattoos. You'd think I would identify with that crowd, but usually it means party-hardy times and a lack of respect for the locals...

We were just in Sihanoukville to jump to Koh Trang but we missed our boat due to some weird receptionist.
"Can we book a boat to the island? And a room?"
"Yes no problem. I take care."
*Makes phone call*
"Ok, is confirmed"
30 minutes later, after some iPod gaming and when I came out of my bubble:
"Ok so when is the boat?"
"Is now"
"Ok is someone coming to pick us up?"
"Is it at that pier down the street?"
"No is 20 minutes away in car. You miss today"

There is literally no use calling him out on that and sometimes locals seem to expect you to do half the work and I keep forgetting that. And so we had to spend a night in this city.

We had trouble finding a room under 10$ so we decided to get a dorm bed for 2.50$ at Utopia. Walking through the courtyard opens onto an outdoors pool with a fountain in the middle and a huge bar, and a couple of chilling areas.

The dorms were 8 matresses next to one another with absolutely no space between them - I literally woke up with a stranger's face inches from mine the next morning.

Upon closer inspection of Utopia it was clear we were in sinner's haven, aka a shithole. The pool water was murky, 97% of the men were swaggering around shirtless with a douchebag aura, a DJ booth overlooked the dance floor, and there were flyers for a wet t-shirt contest on the walls.

We spent the night downing 50-cents beers to be drunk enough to fall sleep despite the music, and laughing at the dudes trying to get the attention of the girls with dripping wet white shirts clinging to their breasts while some ineffective party promoter kept screaming "whoooooo's ready to paaaartaaaaay" every 10 seconds.

At some point a local man came up to me and started a discussion with me by writing notes on his cellphone. After a few minutes he showed me: "Wanna come to beach? Party. Nice lady boom boom. Room for one." I didn't feel like getting mugged so I declined.

Needless to say I had a pretty shitty sleep too.

The boat ride to Koh Tran the next day was really nice in comparison. Quiet waters and a sturdy ship made sure of that. There was a second floor with a tent ceiling for shading, with some couches thrown around. We read and shot the shit for a couple of hours until we arrived on the island.

Right upon arrival we knew that the reputation of a chillout place was not true anymore, and after speaking with a man in his 60s who has been traveling for years I learned that in the last year alone the bars, restaurants and guesthouses went from under 10 to above 20.

The cheapest room we found had the 3 of us share a bed and me getting in arguments with the owners over money and pillows. The bars and guesthouses were playing music until 3am - total disrespect to the locals - but apart from that the seafood was delicious, the view was extraordinary and all the dogs were super friendly. Also saw a teenager with a Canadiens hat.

We ended up staying 3 nights and left for Kratie on a smaller boat who was rocking to waves and the sun beating down on my face. I found myself thinking about the time I almost applied to that school in Rimouski where they form you into being a captain.

Kratie was really laid-back, we got to see the rare Mekong dolphins on a short boat trip and eat fried rice on hutts and hammocks built right over some rapids. I tried to go for a swim but the current was too strong and the floor full of jagged rocks.

I found a restaurant that was offering poutine so I asked mine to be made custom, with extra cheese and hot-dog saucages. I offered that they put it on the menu and name it Montréal Poutine.

Cambodia proved both easier and harder to travel than Thaïland. Most of the times that some ill luck or a bill too expensive happened it was my own fault and could have been avoided. The locals were nice but less inclined to chat, especially since way less of them could talk english compared to the Philippines and Thaïland. The foreign investors were more interested in opening party places rather than coffee shops or the like.

I am still glad I spent a month here, just wish I moved around a little bit more. I was looking for a chilling and exotic spot in the south-east but found it in the north-east at the end of my visa.

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Bye-bye Cambodge

Assis aux abords du Mekong je vis le coucher de soleil. Une petite barque motorisée voyage les eaux tranquilles pendant que de jeunes Khmer parlent au cellulaire assis sur leur scooters. Alors que j'observe de petits oiseaux faire des vols acrobatiques sur un fond de ciel orangé je suis soudainement envahis par de petits enfants qui rigolent sans arrêt. Ils commencent à taquiner leur chien patient pour me faire rire, et quand il a un instant de répis il vient me sentir et me demande de l'aider des yeux.

Les dernières lueurs du soleil se dissipent et j'attend les chauve-souris. Demain matin je quitte le Laos et manque la première partie des Canadiens.

Bonne nuit/journée.

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Kampot, la suite

I think Jen hadn't even hit the floor that Ben and I were beside her. We saw that she was mostly ok - she wasn't going very fast. Blood stains were already on her shirt though, from a small gash on her chin about 2 inches across.

She was mostly laughing about it and complaining faintly about the pain. Through the light of our smartphones we inspected the gash and saw that it was dirty.

"Is it bad?" Asked Ben.
"I've seen much worst" I answered, thinking about the injuries i've seen on my dare-devil and/or drunken friends or myself. "Look, it's like manta ray mouth!"
"It's not funny you geeks!" Complainded Jen.
"Ok, I'll check the scooter, see if we can drive it back, I'll clean you up with my first-aid kit. Did you hit your head?"
"No, I don't think so"
"You have two mouths now!" Exclaimed Ben.
"Three" I added.
"You two are assholes! Can we go?"

After a quick inspection, I saw that the left brake was not working anymore and the front wheel was a little shaky. Thankfully the guesthouse was only a minute away. We crammed on the scooter, Jen in the middle so that Ben could hold her.

Back in the room we cleaned up her Cambodian souvenir as best we could and realised that it was a pretty deep cut... Jem changed in clean clothes while we looked for a hospital or a clinic on the city map. Thankfully it was along a road we were used to.

We packed books and beers in case this would take long. I put my headlamp on since Ben's motorbike lamp wasn't working, and drove to the clinic.

It is at around 2am that Ben rang the bell, installed next to a door made of sliding metal bars, same ones we see protecting stores. A drowzy nurse walked slowly towards us and opened the doors a few feet. Jenny half explained and half mimed her accident and showed her the gash.

"Oooonh" was all the nurse said, which seemed to mean "poor girl..." And opened the door large enough for her and Ben to walk in. They put her on a stretcher, Ben walking next to her, and I opened a beer while looking at the stars outside.

Abiut fifteen minutes and $30 later she re-emmerged, cleaned up, sowed up, chin-strap and all. We got back on the scooter and went to bed. I told Jenny she shouldn't sleep in case she got a concution - she did seem a little slow to answer, bu that could have been the beer and the late hour of the night.

The next morning Ben and Jen decided to stay a day longer in Kampot to let her rest, and offered to pay my share of the room. "It's not fair for you to pay because of me" she explained.

We had a very quiet day, eating and reading. We returned the scooters expecting a hefty ransom having heard the horror stories of Koh Pagnam, but Ben walked away with an $8 dollar bill.

We did go to a french pastry store we stumbled upon a few days back. A huge man in his sixties with a great round belly, giant forearms, and a mouth that barely opened when he talked greeted us, tellin us this place had the best pie he ever tasted.

Next time you see me, ask me to immitate him. Ben and I decided that he was a Tolkien dwarf in real life.

He asked us where we came from. When I said Canada he smiled and said Quebec right away, and I showed him my Canadiens belt buckle to confirm.

"Ooooh the Habs! Loved them when I was a boy. Had a lot of their stuff. They were unstopable back when all the frenchmen played for them. Rocket Richard and Big Bill and Boom Boom Geoffrion and Jack Plante. They won the cup 5 times in a row they did, more than once I believe. Yes. This place here, opened by the cook's parents. They came from China 60 years ago. Some frenchman from France showed them how to cook. The pie here, best I ever had, just like home. You cannot leave without eating it"

He was from Saskatchewan, and seemed to be sitting at a table of the little restaurant every single hour of the day, talking with someone.

The day after that we got on a bus that took us to Sihanoukville, the next chapter of my Cambodian journey.

Saturday, 12 January 2013

De Rabbit Island à Kampot

That morning I lazily woke up, put my swimming suit on, groggily walked to the hutt that serves as a restaurant a few meters away, and ordered a banana shake. While the girls were preparing it I walked into the sea until the waves lapped at my natural thermometer and swam until I ran out of breath - didn't take long since I was slightly hungover.

Walking out of the sea, slurping on my shake, I fall into a hammock and go back to my book. About an hour later I am roused from George R.R. Martin's lifetime achievement by a familiar whistle.

Ben and Jen finally made it on the island!

Handshakes and hugs and laughs. Beer and swimming and more laughs. The day seemes to go by quickly. We tried to go on a trekk around the island but the trails were too shitty so after finding proper walking sticks and giving them an origin, we decided to go explore on the rocks that line the shore, the part I hadn't seen.

Little crabs scurry away as we walk by like towering clumsy pink giants. We found a nice big rock jutting out of the water and climbed it. All around it the shallow waters were teeming with life. Crabs big like a fist would swim away and hide underneath rocks. As we were hunting them actively with our sticks we chanced upon a tiny orange octopus.

We tried to corner it and let out a "WHOAAAA" when it suddenly attached itself to a rock and camouflaged her skin into the EXACT same color.

Really cool. I love octopus even more now. We played with it for about 15 minutes, until it was exhausted. Then we let it rest under a rock.

We met the night under the roof of a wall-less hutt, each on our own hammock, The Pogues playing out of my speakers. Ben had a bottle of Samsong (Thaï Rum) so we tackled that in between 75-cent beers.

A huge fly landed near us, half its body torn away, her eyes as big as the nail on a pinky. It was dazed enough for us to take super-macro pictures of it. We went to our respective beds around 1am (not the fly - it probably died).

The next day was composed of a somewhat hungover trip to Kampot, where we found a room to share in a guesthouse that greeted you with a free beer and free pétanque (oui!).

We took it easy that night, Jen went to bed early while me and Ben drank some draughts and played games on our iPods

The next morning when I woke up I didn't think that I was about to face one of the coolest days of my trip - so far. I wanted to check out the "bat-filled cave" out of town, so after our breakfast we rented some scooters and went on our merry way.

The streets of beloved Montréal have the ill reputation of being as defiled as the acne-ridden face of a pulpous teenager, but they are nothing compared to the red-sand dirt roads of rural cambodia. Driving on these proves mentally taxing as you are constantly watching for children, dogs, chicken, other vehicules, and huge holes that might - and will- cause you to crash.

We soon passed a tiny village made out of tin-roofed shacks, drove under a buddhist gate towards a pile of rocks where an 18-year old Khmer named "Say-yaaaa" offered to guide us through, and good thing we did hire him. While the cave was not that big nor clostrophobic, we had to crawl up and down cramped holes and cracks - and did see some bats.

After the cave our guide proposed that he take us to "Secret Lake", which we accepted after snapping a few pictures of his village. He offered to drive my scooter for me and I let him, and I was not disapointed. He drove through the countryside at a pace I never would have braved.

We finally get to the lake, which is a man-made reservoir that Pol Pot had ordered built in the 70s, and many cambodians died to make it happen. We chilled under yet another hammock-hutt and ate some noodles before driving further out to a pepper plantation.

Kampot pepper is renowned for its taste and is apparently very popular in french restaurants. 8-feet high brick towers are built in rows and the plant grows against it under the taxing Cambodian sky.

We soon had to go back so that our guide wouldn't be late for his evening english class. I jokingly asked if we could come with him and he was very happy to invite us, and so about 2 hours later I found myself standing in a classroom reading a notebook to a class of twenty to teach them proper pronunciation.

The teacher also asked me, Ben and Jen to go sit with groups and engage in discussions with them, but most were too shy to reply to my inquiries.

After a very fun hour of this we followed our guide back to his house where he himself thought the children of his village the alphabet, to count, and the days of the week - for free. We had previously bought pens and candy for everyone and the women of the village were very grateful.

We tolerated all we could of this ultra-cuteness and went back to Kampoy. After having eaten a traditional ramen-and-eggs meal at our guide's grandfather's restaurant we went back to our guesthoue to get proper smashed.

There we met Julien and Raphaelle, 2 people I met in Phnom Penh. Turns out they bought their own tuk-tuk! We played some pétanque and smoked some to celebrate, while drinking cheap Angkor drafts.

At around midnight Jen decided she needed some sleep, so me and Ben set out on my scooter to find some water - Ben's scooter light wasn't working. We found a bar instead, and before buying anymore beer Ben turned to me and said "I think we should go get Jen". Little did we know how that sentence was about to make this day even more memorable.

Drive back slightly affected to get Jen, the 3 of us on the same bike asian style, get to the bar and drink more, dance with a very smooth, very old and very drunk cambodian, until we decide to ditch this loud bar infested with pot-smokers.

On the careful way back we find trampolines and can't resist the temptation to give it a go. There's 4 of them, but as I'm climbing into mine I notice there's people living underneath! Possibly the owners, dozing in a hammock, sheltered by their most prize possesssions.

In a fit of adrenalyn, Jen - who'se never driven a scooterbike before - decides that it is the perfect time to give it a try since the streets are empty. With her drunken courage she mounted the metal beast, and after Ben showed her the brakes and the gas, she rode off.

A few seconds later and she was back, having driven around the block skillfully with a huge smile on her face. Her second lap would not go so well however... She took the corner too large, forgot to let go of the gas when she braked, hit the sidewalk...

We soon witnessed her do a beautiful swan dive off the motorbike, hitting her chin on the ground.

We sobered up pretty fast after this.

The rest very soon, my loyal subjects!

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Rabbit Island en images

C'était bien bien bien

Rabbit Island

J'ai laissé Kep derrière moi avant-hier, avec un sourire et Sipokazi qui est venue me voir.

On arrive à Rabbit Island après une petite promenade en bateau de 20 minutes. On saute de l'embarquation verte et rouge pour tomber dans quelques pouces d'eau et un sable fin.

On se loue une des petites huttes en bambou qui jonchent la plage. Un matelas et un filet à moustiques, et une ampoule qui me fonctionne que de 19h à 23h sont les seules décorations. On dépose nos sacs et on se jette à la mer. Le ciel est grix et une petite brise rend l'air un peu plus frisquet, mais l'eau est chaude.

Je nage aisément vers le profond. C'est facile car c'est si salé que je peux flotter sans le moindre effort, mais les vagues me rendent la tâchent un peu plus hardue. Après quelques tasses d'eau salée dans l'fond du gosier, je retourne à la berge pour un banana fruit shake.

Rabbit Island est habitée et exploitée par quelques familles qui y ont construits huttes et cuisines. Les visiteurs mangent sur des tables de bois, sous le soleil ou les arbres. Des chiens jouent ensemblent, des chats miaulent pour les restants, et la volaille se promène allègrement jusqu'à l'heure de leur exécution cullénaire (miam).

Ma visite me parle beaucoup de sa famille (7 frêres et soeurs) et il semble plutôt qu'elle réfléchit à voix haute. J'écoute patiement pour aussi longtemps que je peux, mais elle ne connait pas très bien mon temps de concentration limité qui a frustré plus qu'un prof.

Quand un bateau reste prit dans le sable et le conducteur n'est pas capable de le libérer je suis que trop content d'aller l'aider à pousser.

C'est l'effort physique le plus intense que j'ai fait depuis mon départ. Mon épaule gauche me le signale avec des élancements de douleur. Je reste dans l'eau un peu le temps de relaxer le muscle.

On décide d'aller explorer un peu la côte en marchant sur les rochers qui la jonchent, ce que j'ai toujours aimé faire. Ma mère nous amenait souvent aux chutes montmorency où je me croyais invincible, jusqu'à ce que je m'écorche les genoux après être glissé. Le temps gris et les rochers trempes m'aident à imaginer le chapitre je le lisait ce matin. "What is dead may never die!"

Le soir, petit souper tranquille à manger les crevettes pêchées le matin même. Simone la cambodgienne semble être celle en charge. Elle se promène avec un fusil à l'eau et prend les commandes des clients en rigolant. Tout le monde fixe Sipokazi, c'est à croire qu'ils ne voient que des blancs en asie... Simone joue avec ses cheveux bridés et lui touche même les seins, avant de lui montrer la danse classique khmer et de la chatouiller.

Une nuit très tranquille mais malgré tout je n'ai fait que transpirer. Il fait chaud dans les petites huttes, et il n'y a pas de ventilateurs. Le bruit des vagues est ma berceuse préférée par contre, et je sombre rapidement dans un sommeil comfortable.

Je me réveille tranquillement le lendemain, satisfait d'avoir finalement décroché de facebook pour 24 heures. Je suis accro, c'est clair. Je déjeune en flattant un chat et Sipokazi m'annonce qu'elle s'en va déjà car il n'y a pas grand chose à faire ici. Je l'aide à monter le bateau et lui envoi un au revoir de la main, et m'enlarve dans un hamac pour lire mon livre pendant de nombreuses heures, la conscience finalement tranquille.

La seule distraction est un bateau remplit de jeunes touristes khmer qui vont rapidement rigoler dans l'eau malgré la température grise. Même les moines avec leurs toges oranges sont de la partie. Je vais nager un peu et jase avec un jeune cambodgien.

Pendant que je soupe, riz frit et poulet, restants pour les chats, je demande à Simone s je pourrais apprendre à pêcher le crabe avec les locaux. "Up to youuuu" est sa réponse, mais c'est sa réponse pour presque tout. Je peux avoir une bière? Tu crois que le soleil va sortir? Up to youuuuu!

Ma soirée se termine bientot. J'ai lu une centaines de pages de livre à la lumière de ma lampe frontale. Je fini tranquillement une bière assis sur une chaise longue en bois sur le bord de la mer, les étoiles cachées derrières les nuages. J'écoute un assortiment de chansons de Lucero les plus relax, les écouteurs seulement sur l'oreille droite pour entendre le son des vagues.

Au loin, les lumières jaunes de Kep se mêlent au clignotement de lampes rouges accrochées aux bateaux de pêcheurs et transports qui flottent le long de rives lointaines.

Les chiens de l'île viennent de terminer une chorale de hurlements qui donnent la chair de poule.

J'ai pas vraiment envi de partir demain, alors je crois bien rester une nuit de plus. Après tout, c'est rare que je me fait des journées à 15$ aussi agréables.

"I'm better for every day I'm gone" - Tim Barry

Friday, 4 January 2013

Un pti peu de geekness

Visiting ancient temples and reading about mythology has been tickling my geek brain until I found myself daydreaming, trying to recall where I really intended to take my players on their DnD campain, and how they would react to an asian setting.

Daydreaming about this while riding a sketchy scooter. I reach a roundabout, and there's a 10-feet tall golden statue of Shiva with 8 arms. I am taken back to a scene with my other DnD group, the one Angus runs, as we're exploring a temple dedicated to unknown deities ( I guess I missed my knowledge check)...

And then I got this idea that I hope both regular readers and geek ones should like, if curious enough.

For those of you that never played pen and paper games or any RPG at all, sometimes what is in your inventory can make a difference (but wait, I found this warhorn earlier, what if I blow it?).

So, for more details about my traveling and so that I can have a list, here's my belongings.

Keep in mind everything is divided and packed in plastic bags to keep a semblance of order, this list starts with the bottom o' my bag, where I put the stuff less needed.

Here goes. (You should probably try to picture Diablo 1 inventory ).

Firstly, my ukulele, cream-colored with two zebras painted. I added a tiny sticker of the flag of the Philippines on it. It's in a travel case, standing up in my bag. Acquired near Cebu, Philippines.

My first-aid kit (there's a zipper at the bottom of the bag, so easily accessible): waterproof tape, tape for sprained ankles, (quest item received from Marc Jobin when he left Koh Tao), echinacea pills, hydrogen peroxyde, band-aids, and 2 months worth of malaria pills. Some of the tape has used when i cut my foot snorkeling.

Bag of "might-needs": stainless coffee mug (used once), keyclip, cheap ponchos (used 1 out of 4 that came with the bag), laundry soap (mostly intact).

Bag of electronics: camera (quest item acquired from Caro, but mostly unused, ipod is simpler), world electric socket adaptor, electric shaver. I started the journey with an iPod charger but the difference of voltage fried it.

Bag of light souvenirs: mostly maps, tickets, bills, business cards, museum and temple guides. Anything light I can later put in a box and open once in a while to help me remember this journey. 100% acquired on the road.

Bag of "never-enough": two bottles of Off!, Aloès after-sun, sunscream (60).

Bag of "to-read": Thaï phrasebook, Sex, Drugs, And Coca Puffe* (acquired from Damien St-Amour when he left Koh Tao. I would like to return it to him in person in Vancouver before I go back home), Teach Yourself Buddhism (acquired in Chiang Mai, pre-quest item if I find a monastary I can join for a time).

Bag of things to send home (once back in Thaïland, apparently Cambodia and Laos can't be trusted): t-shirts from Paï for my parents, red scarf similar to the ones used by the Khmer Rouge (quest item, members of Paï Scooter Gang sport this), bracelets for my brother (acquired on Malapascua, Philippines), cheap Dragonball Z toys, Game of Thrones Book II-III (book one entrusted to Marc Jobin, his own quest to bring it safely home), flyers from Blah Blah bar, the punk bar in Paï, and a scooter sticker for my guitar.

These are the bags I rarely take out. I then throw over them my dirty clothes, stuff them in to try and make an even floor. My clean clothes are stuffed with my shoes in my bottom pocket so I can change in-between bus rides easily.

I also have a bag of bags.

Clothes I started with: 2 pairs of underwear (one is now too big), 2 pairs of socks, 1 pair of jeans (my least favourite one, also now too big), my yoda shirt from the expo last summer, my Nothington shirt (awesome band, awesome show), and my camo shorts (had them for 5-6 years, starting to show). Finally I brought my favourite hoodie, black and shredded everywhere, but the lightest one I own. Half a mind to drop it, asians are always well presented and I feel I am shaming myself when wearing it. Finally, a green bandana.
Also crappy skateshoes.
I had to discard my swimming suit which I ripped at the overly-manly testicles area, during the "Try to Surf" level.

I obtained from various shopkeepers, mostly while haggling (Speach skills improved) 3 white beaters. One of surfing in Surigao, one of Tiger Beer (Tigers are awesome, and so is beer), and Muay Thaï. Also got 2 t-shirts. One of that famous E.T. In a bycicle in front the moon shot, only its an Alien (xenomorph) in the bicycle basket, the other one is a little girl holding an AT-AT walker in a leash. Star Wars shirts are EVERYWHERE in Thaïland (Sith happens). Also bought a hideous white swimsuit with yellow flowers (it was $4) and black shorts (needed to wash the camo ones). Got a really sweet camo poncho, light and it folds well. I keep it in the top pocket if my bag. Finally, 2 bandanas, one black and white, one black, white and red. They have more intricate designs than the ones back home. Also a dark blue baseball cap with no design.
Also got black gougounes.

A small towel, lime-colored and full of rust stains that I stole from my parents the very morning I left. With it comes my Habs débarbouillette.

Without a bag is my mostly useless Southeast Asia on a Shoestring (2008) book I got in Bangkok. Forgot my Lonely Planet book at my parents house, no doubt a horrific karma reaction to the towel theft.

Then comes my notebook. Was supposed to use it a lot but this blog took over. Right now there's some Filipino words, sketches from a DnD game in Koh Tao, and basic travel plans for Thaïland and Cambodia. Also lyrics for a song we wrote, about La Reine des Baleines. Inspired by a dive where Marc and Damien spotted a shark-whale!

Then comes my "everyday-use" bag, which I had to change since my beardcomb (yes) poked through it: 2 sticks of Old Spice (Smooth Blast), Tea Tree Oil (had a weird rash on the leg and this cured it), Polysporyn (cuts on the feet), bandaids, nail clipper, scissors to trim the beard and nose hair, a tiny mirror given by Marc Jobin, moisture cream so my feet don't crack anymore, tattoo cream, Q-tips (now huge because they got humid), 3-blade (balls), toothpaste and toothbrush (itself kept in a ziplok bag), soap, aaaaand beardcomb.

Finally, my "carry-on", my "satchel". If you go back to my blog from Bangkok I quickly say that I bought "some sort of tissue bag". Turns out they are called "Monk Bags".

In there, most of the time: my stormtrooper toy, gandalf light, swim goggles (Marc again), Gastro pills (yup), toilet paper, condoms (useless so far), my wallet, passport, harmonica, shades, earphones, speaker (asian), headlamp (asian), iPod charger (asian), keys for current hotel/scooter, and current book (Game of Thrones book IV), iPod in a separate pouch.

However when I go for a walk/ride I leave all the electronics save the iPod.

Whew! Lastly I discarded my previous headlamp which broke, and my Tremblay Beer cap which was full of sweat salt and surf wax.

If you read through all this, kuddos! Next geek post will be my travel achievements and levels.

This took SO long.


Ah, Kep.

J'ai quitté Phnom Penh avec un degré de frustration, accumulation de plusieurs petits trucs... Et le tracas d'avoir perdu l'envi d'écrire. Je me tanne toujours vite de mes projets.

Arrivé à Kep après 3 heures de transports rocambolesques à travers champs, risières, routes en construction, chemins de terres rouges, un chauffeur qui conduit comme un ivrogne en tabarnak... Et malgré tout j'ai dormi les 3/4 du temps, j'avais la banquette arrière à moi tout seul.

Un gars s'gâte.

Débarquant du mini-bus au centre de la ville, qui est en fait qu'un stationnement entouré de restos, plaqués par la mer qui elle se cache derrière un petit muret de briques et une minuscule plage. Je remarque que tout les hommes à 1mille à la ronde ont les yeux rivés sur une cambodgienne. J'admire ce don de la nature un instant.

Il n'y a qu'un seul tuk-tuk, miracle! Je suis le seul à m'arrêter ici, donc je n'ai pas à me soucier de mon lift. Le chauffeur connait la guesthouse la moins chère en ville. Je sais pas si c'est vrai, mais 6$ la chambre ça me va. Propre en plus!

En après-midi je me loue un scooter qui tient à peine ensemble et vais me promener sur le bord de la mer. Des statues de shiva avec 8 bras, d'une femme de pêcheur nue, de gros poulets en or (?). Des petits restos jonchent les plages, et c'est possible se louer une petite hutte avec un hamak, mais c'est 5$ juste pour s'asseoir.

Des singes se gavent de fruits et n'ont pas l'air trop impressionés par la vue magnifique.

Un peu sans idée quoi faire je me dirige vers le parc national et commence à marcher le sentier, mais après 30 minutes je change d'idées et décide d'aller lire dans ma chambre et écouter la télé. Je pensais trop à la maison.

Le soir je soupe et jase avec la serveuse, elle sourit sans arrêt et ça me remonte le moral un peu. Je m'endors en me demandant kossé que j'fa icitte, ya rien.

Le lendemain matin par contre, je me réveille avec un poids en moins sur les épaules. Les petits trucs agaçants de Phnom Penh ne sont pas présents ici après tout.

Je vais nager dans la mer pour au moins 2 heures. Je me renseigne sur Rabbit Island, ma prochaine destination. J'apprend aussi que il n'y a pas de ATM dans la ville, petit stress.

Je regarde dans mon porte-monnaie. 50$. Stress confirmé. C'est en masse pour 2 jours, mais j'avais prévu 4-5.

La petite serveuse m'informe que certains resorts peuvent te donner de l'argent de ta carte de crédit. Elle les appelle pour moi mais curieusement toutes les machines de la ville sont hors d'état.

Le petit sourire m'informe que je dois aller à Kamput, normalement ma destination après Rabbit Island. 30 minutes en scooter.

Je n'ai pas le choix et donc me prépare. Après tout, je ne suis plus un débutant voyageur! Je n'amène que ma clef de chambre et mon porte-monnaie, placés sous le banc du scooter. J'enfile mes souliers, car la route de Paï m'avait déchiré l'orteil à cause d'un poulet. Finalement, casquette (soleil) lunettes de biker (mouches dans yeux), bandeau (poussière).

Ici tout le monde porte les petits masques de chirurgien, alors je n'ai pas l'air d'un bandit ou d'un manifestant comme la police de Montréal vous incline à penser.

Nouveau petit truc: la palette par en arrière fait mieux glisser le vent sur ma tête et mes yeux ne pleurent pas.

Je parcours une route de ciment des fois recouverte de ce sable rouge damné, et je dois dépasser des immenses camions qui m'envoient poussière et polution, tout en évitant trous, cailloux, enfants et chiens.

Très intense, mais je reviens à temps de ma mission pour admirer un coucher de soleil au Crab Market, en observant les femmes terminer leur journée. Elles sont très mignonnes, les jeunes pêcheuses, et y'en a une qui semble rire de mes tattoos de jambes.

2 chiens sortent de nul part pour venir jouer avec moi. Ils ne me lâchent pas pendant 20 minutes et essayent de me licher la barbe. Non merci pti bum!

Après un autre bon repas à saveur de fruits de mer je m'installle dans mon lit propre (petit luxe) et m'acharne sur ce blog, les batteries rechargées, la soif d'explorer revenue, et le coup de soleil qui pique.

Ce soir m'attendent les nouveaux personnages de game of thrones, et des films de kung-fu mal traduits en Khmer.

Dans les jours suivants, Ben et Jen me rejoignent, et Sipokazi. Ensuite, Rabbit Island.

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Petits moments à Phnom Penh

Se lever vers les 10h, non-chalant, et aller déjeuner à son spot habituel. La serveuse s'appelle Nari et aime bien frapper les vieux blancs cochons qui s'y trouvent avec leur petite khmer.

Faire un pti tour en arrière d'une moto, ne pas être stressé alors que le chauffeur s'engage sur le boulevard en sense inverse, et réaliser que t'es rendu un peu trop à l'aise.

Voir des femmes khmer de tous ages se promener en pyjama dans la rue, au beau milieu de la journée.

S'asseoir sur le trottoir pour enlever un morceau de vitre planté dans sa scandale. Se faire aider par un khmer qui te pique une jasette dans sa langue tout en flattant tes tattoos.

Se faire dévorer des yeux par une très très jolie fille. On se croirait dans une intro de film porno. Ne rien faire, car il y a quelques instants elle était avec un vieux blanc.

Jaser de politique cambodgienne quand un homme apprend que tu viens de Montréal et son gouverneur préféré y a étudié. "I hope he give better job to Cambodia. Tuk-tuk, hard job, not fun, customers always angry, no money. If I eat, wife doesn't eat. If daughter eats, son doesn't eat. And Canada not communist, so good things governor learned."

Angkor Wat... L'effigie du temple est sur leur drapeau, leur bière, bars, restos, hôtels, vêtements, tout.

Traverser le chaos des intersections sans même regarder.

Montrer comment Google Earth marche à un vieux chauffeur de Tuk-Tuk. Il préfère regarder du porn.

Être à l'autre bout du monde mais être complètement absorbé par son livre, première fois en plusieurs années, et s'enfermer dans sa chambre des heures de temps pour s'engoiffrer d'intrigue médiévale... Winter is coming.

Passer Noël et le jour de l'an avec des étrangers et s'ennuyer de ses amis, sa famille, son pti confort, sa ville, sa culture.

Je suis en ce moment à Kep, une petite ville au sud de la capitale sur le bord de la mer. Complètement le contraire de Phnom Penh, avec ses petites rues, hotels dispendieux, et l'océan qui la borde.

Je me suis loué un scooter mais j'ai déjà fait le tour... Demain je me goinfre de crabes au marché, et j'entame le Tome IV sur un hamak au-dessus d'un sable orange.