Life according to clover33
Australia, New Zealand
China, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand
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Soured taste on Cambodia.......
Published 4:14 am, 28 Oct 2013
After 2 delayed flights and a lot of fretting i made it to Phnom Penh, touched down in the evening in the pouring rain. I shared a taxi with an English woman who was telling me about her extremely successful daughters and her house in France, thankfuly my hostel was the first stop! I had a good feeling about Phnom Penh the guys in the hostel were cool and real friendly!
The next day i shared a tuk tuk with a French guy to the killing fields, an extremely tragic place!! Your given a head set where a Khmer man explains everything that happened and the various structures around the fields, there’s glass boxes filled with bones, teeth and rags from the hundreds of bodies that were buried in the mass graves there! Your hearing it and seeing the remnants of this massacre but its so hard to believe it happened, it left me feeling empty afterwards, imagining a life like that or how someone recovers from an experience like that!
Back in the city i walked the dusty busy streets while being pestered for a tuk tuk, to the jail/school where citizens were punished and tortured, my mood definitely didn’t lift after this place either! Families were torn apart, never to know if they were alive or dead. It was a depressing day that’s for sure.
When i tried to leave Phnom Penhs dusty streets the boys in the hostel put my bag on the wrong bus so i had to stay an extra night in the city which i wasn’t so happy about! This was the start of my bad luck! I moved onto Sihanoukville next, met a local guy who told me the Khmer Rouge were still strong in power/influence and how the Russians were taking over the town. I didn’t feel entirely safe there so after a night on the town with a load of English, Dutch, Irish and American i booked a ticket to the neighboring island Koh Rong but was a little weary about it also as they had just found an American woman dead in the jungle over there and some mad stories were goin around about her having her throat slit and what not!!
The ferry over was treacherous, iv never been so scared, we might as well have been a little row boat, we got tossed about in the humongous waves, i had to lie down and sleep so i wouldn’t get sea sick, although that was interrupted when a wave hit the top deck and soaked everyone!!!!
We made it safe and sound to the little island and i booked myself into the most hippy looking hostel, i thought dreads were compulsory!! Everybody was happy out smoking and drinking away so i began to seriously doubt my choice of lodgings but once i began to talk to them all i relaxed a little! The island is small, your options are swimming, snorkeling, kayaking, volleyball, eating or drinking and smoking!! I spent my days there walking around, played some volleyball, cringed at the mange infested puppies and got to know some of the locals. A highly contagious case of pink eye broke out, 1 guy had it and all of a sudden everyone had it, it was chronic, thankfuly i remained infection free and in awe of how fast it spread, it was like pink eye island!!! Although it rained most of the time i was there and the outbreak of pink eye i was happy i spent a few days there! Back to the mainland and onto the worst over night bus journey of my life to Siem Reap.
My kindle was stolen on the bus, i was furious but what made it worse was the lack of help i was getting trying to find out whether i had simply left it on the bus. I was lost without my kindle and it soured my trip in Cambodia, from there on i had my guard up against the local people, which was wrong of me but i felt like i lost a limb!!!! Dramatic huh??! Siem Reap was a busy time, 2 days spent at the temples had me thinking id die happy never seeing another temple. My 2nd day at the temples i spent it with 2 Thai men who were a lot of fun and offered to show me around Bangkok when i got there!!!
I moved onto Kratie into the area renown for irrawady dolphins. It was a long bus journey but i met Tanya the criminal investigator from Slovenia and an English couple on their honeymoon! We eventually made it and 3 lodging viewings later we settled on a Dutch/Khmer owned hostel. The guy who ran the hostel had an interesting life, he was in the French foreign legion for a few years, worked security for a Prince or 2 then became a monk for 6 years in India and now he’s living in Cambodia running a hostel/bar!!! This is 1 of the things i love about travel the people you meet and they’re stories!!! We took a cruise out to see the odd shaped dolphins, not like they’re cousins these guys swim away from boats nonetheless we saw them breach a few times which was enough!!
I booked a bus early out of Kratie into Laos with the intention of avoiding the corruption fees you pay at the border for various reasons but my plan fell flat on its arse!!! After a lengthy bumpy van drive with locals i got dumped at the last town before the border crossing into Laos and told to wait for another bus, 1 hour later i asked the locals who didn’t speak English when was the bus coming, they had to phone someone who spoke English and he told me i missed the 1st bus so i had to wait 5 hours for the next bus!!!! Turns out i had to wait 12 hours before a f’ing bus came, this sealed my bad opinion of Cambodia!!! I was desperate to leave and start a fresh journey in Laos until we got to the border and i had to pay $41 for a $35 visa, there was a lot of cursing and giving out, f’ing corruption at its best!!!!!!
Best course diversion ever....
Published 4:12 am, 28 Oct 2013
Malaysia was amazing, i was delighted i chose to go, the men may be gawkin at you cause they’ve never seen shoulders and ankles exposed all at once and the women glarey cause they’re men are busy looking at the white skin but it was a trip worth while for the wildlife alone!!! We touched down in Sabah, the basic of basic airports and met a French couple on the same path as us, so we all opted to share a taxi to this special hostel a friend told me about. After an extended trip around town to find an ATM willing to give us money we made it to the deer reserve where our hostel was situated! We had an entertaining taxi ride thanks to our elderly driver and his selected English. Despite all the travel to get there i was excited and began planning our trip booking a river tour and what not! We got put into our room, a 12 bed dorm with only 1 other person the dorm was a basic stilted shack with a corrugated iron roof so when some unknown animal began furiously running around on the roof at the small hours of the night i nearly leapt outta the bed, i had to remind myself i was surrounded by jungle, with your heart beating at 90 miles an hour its a little hard to get back to sleep!!!!
The next morning we were up early and set off for the orangutan rehabilitation centre where the orangutans are semi wild, we made it on time for feeding time which was just amazing i was so delighted i was standing watching these endangered apes feast on fruit and veg, i had a huge grin plastered on my face the entire time!! The heat of the day soon kicked in and we were sweating walking through the jungle on a bird trail where we encountered a snake, thankfully he was just as scared of us as we were of him so he wasn’t long disappearing!!!! We were exhausted by 2 o clock and desperately wanting a shower. After we got back i met the most irritating Dub iv ever come upon, she abused the word ‘like’, it was every 3rd or 4th word out of her mouth and she just couldn’t tell us enough about herself, i was seriously kicking myself for inviting her to join us, myself and Tess were delighted we were leaving the following day to our river cruise!
The following morning we got picked up an hour later than scheduled so we had to sit around listening to the Dub unloading on some other poor unfortunate ‘do ya know like……like iv always wanted to go like’ .
The French couple joined us for the river cruise so we were crammed into a back seat with no air conditioning, we were stuck to each other and the seats, and to make matters worse the guy driving was speeding and talking on his phone, needless to say we were pissed off, we had to tell him to slow down and put the phone down! We made it to the river in one piece, complained about our journey which resulted in our tour guide telling us we should only stay 1 night and leave the following day!!! I was raging, i had come to Malaysia to see wildlife and get away from shitty people and here Im faced with this fella telling me to leave!! The French couple left the following day but we dug our heels in and stayed the intended 2 nights and were glad we did, not so sure our guide was happy about it!!!! It was basic basic accommodation with nothing but monkey inhabited trees surrounding us and loads of bugs! We went on several cruises up the river, seen loads of macaque and probiscus monkeys, huge water lizards but no pygmy elephants, we only saw they’re poo on our morning safari walk. The night safari was the best, we came up close with a large python lazing in a tree our torches brought out a UV blue on his skin. It was funny/jumpy walking trough the bush in the pitch black, the aussie girl at the back of our group, who was a little scared, got her hair caught in a tree and freaked out a little, it was funny, of all the things that can attack you in the jungle, she gets caught by a tree!!!
I felt fulfilled going back, regardless of not seeing any elephants i was on cloud 9 after seeing all the animals i did! We weren’t sure what we were doing next, we had heard about turtle island, an island where sea turtles lay they’re eggs but the cost was colossal, over 600 ringit, out of our budget range, but we read online if you go and book directly with the company it was cheaper BUT people book months in advance cause its a limited number of people allowed on the island at one time so it was a long shot!!!
We found the office walked in there hopeful but not expecting much, we only had 3 days left so in order to do the 2 day 1 night trip we’d have to go the next day. We must have been the 2 happiest girls in Sabah that day, they had space leaving the following morning at 8am and for a fraction of the price, maybe 200 ringit!!!!!
We were up bright and early buzzing about the trip ahead, the boat was over an hour to the isolated island, we were part of a group of about 30! We spent the remainder of the day snorkeling on the beach, saw some amazing fish and colourful clams. By sheer luck i was walking on the beach and saw baby turtles scuttling towards the ocean, a batch of eggs the rangers missed!!
The rangers scope the beach at night waiting for the female turtles to come and lay they’re eggs, they then remove the eggs, so predators can’t destroy them, and then bury them in a protected hatchery, where once they hatch they are released into the ocean.
That night after dinner we were divided into small groups and told to wait until the ranger called us, be ready, it all happens very fast and sometimes you don’t actually get to see the female lay her eggs!! Myself and Tess sat around reading our books but anxious about the potential birth, our time came and i was already out the door when the ranger called us!!! We legged it through the sand to where the ranger was with a torch shining on the hole where the turtle was dropping her eggs, we were very lucky to see this moment, the last group got there too late and missed it! I felt honoured to witness this moment, i stood transfixed by this sight, it was the most humbling moment of my life, even the stupid dutch boy who was trying to use his flash to take pictures when he was told not to in case it stressed the turtle couldn’t distract me!!
Just as she began to kick the sand back on her eggs the ranger removed them with her none the wiser. Turned out she was a new turtle not a return mother which they were extremely happy about and then began measuring and tagging her! We then watched the eggs been buried in the hatchery, this was when the dutch boy got to me, he wanted to use flash on the eggs, so he got a ‘are you serious??! What can’t you see? Sure the torch is giving you enough light for a photo. Jesus!!’ which caused a few giggles including the rangers!! Some turtles hatched during the day so we walked back down the beach to release them, remember all this was happening under the moon in the darkness, it was truly amazing, i helped guide a few little leathery feeling turtles into the ocean, they were trying to scuttle back up the beach! I went to bed with the warmest feelings, like i had accomplished something, i felt soooo lucky to have witnessed that special moment!!
We returned the following morning and spent 1 last night in Sabah, this signaled the end of my travel adventures with my dutch friend Tess. I had the most hilarious few weeks with her, we spent most of our time together laughing and acting the maggott, i was sad to part ways but such is life traveling, but the world is a small place, Im sure ill see her again one day!
Love valley to Sai Gon......
Published 6:14 am, 1 Oct 2013
Dutchie and i arrived in Dalat in the pouring rain, we donned our raincoats and trudged out in search of a place to stay, after ditching our bags at one place we walked around the love valley, the Paris of Vietnam or so its known, for the whole afternoon, we settled on the pink villa who’s receptionist was a lady boy, told us we could have the room for free if we married him, we refused the marriage proposal preferring to pay cash!! We found the best shop in town for coffee and soon became familiar faces to the staff. We decided we’d book a canyoning trip (canyoning involves abseiling down waterfalls) we knew we’d get wet regardless of the rain so as long as it wasn’t cold we were agreed with going, we showed the guy the company we wanted to go with and he called them for us…..or so we thought! The following morning we woke up at 6am and it was lashing down and blowing a gale so we said we’d call the tour company and reschedule for the following day, turns out they didn’t even have our names down for a booking, so who did we book with?
We got a call to our room at 9am saying our canyoning guys were here to pick us up, so we discreetly told them we had already canceled with the company we had made the booking with and we weren’t doing it today, the guy battled with us for a while saying we had to go, while we tried asking him what company he was with but all to no avail, he wanted to charge us 30% of the cost to compensate! We laughed and hung up on him and that was that!
We spent that day aimlessly walking around town and spent 3 hours in the coffee shop we found the previous day. The marketing staff came and had a good chat with us, they even gave us a sample coffee with beans they were thinking of using in the future, us coffee pros gave our professional opinions. i also suggested they stock cakes in they’re shops and low and behold the following day they had cakes in ;) !!! We had a look at different tour companies and just as we were reading what one had to offer, in walk a group who had just being canyoning and they had wet suits so we promptly signed up to go the following day knowing we would have wet suits it could lash it down and we weren’t worried about it! We were beginning to lose our marbles in each others company too, so when we came upon a kiwi and an Australian guy in a cafe we tortured them for the evening!
The following day we joined a group of 11 to go canyoning and had a blast, we had a 16 meter waterfall, a 26 meter and a 14 meter to scale and a few water slides here and there in between! The 26 meter was a tough one you got to 4 meters above the water below you and you had to jump and let go falling backwards into the water, it was a hesitant moment i can tell ya! The final waterfall was called the washing machine, its where 2 waterfalls intersect and if you get caught in them you get spun like your in a washing machine!! The guides english was kinda hard to understand so i thought it’d all make sense once i was doing it, you get about 4 steps down, jump out and then slowly lower yourself into the water making sure you don’t jump too far out and get caught in the current. Well ill tell you what, it was a hairy moment, getting smashed with the flow of water on your back, you slowly lower yourself into the water and just let go, the current sweeps you under and you pop up down stream a bit……there’s no where else in the world would this be classified safe!!!!! It was nuts, i have even more respect for the power of water!! We were wrecked after our adventure but we had an amazing day, taking the piss outta the Germans all day long was part of the fun too!!!
We moved on from Dalat to Sai Gon, what a city, its nuts, so busy i don’t think iv ever seen that many scooters EVER! We got a dose of food poisoning from street food, left poor Tess bed ridden for a day while it dragged on for a few days with me, thankfully i wasn’t bed ridden. We had spotted these guys on the streets cycling bikes up and down the streets with a rattle in their hands, Tess had a theory they were drug pushers, so we wanted to find out what was goin on. They’d cycle up the street and rattle they’re rattle and that was it, so i let a shout out and the guy instantly looked around, but sure we were like giddy school girls, giggling and walking off! We eventually pulled ourselves together and called one up, tryna be all inconspicuous asking him ‘how much?’ he was clever enough to say ‘for what?’ so we probed further and another one appears outta nowhere, we have now got 2 guys telling us $5 for massage, trying not to giggle and walk away but he then tells us ‘mar-e-wana’ and just as we were about to prob further a guy we met in Dalat rocks up and asks what the deal is and takes our transaction over. We were disgusted, we hadn’t intended on buying anything but we wanted to know what exactly was available, it was a comical deal i can tell you! We flew out of Sai Gon destined for Borneo in Malaysia, a recommendation we got from our Aussie mate we met in Nha Trang, orangutans and probiscus monkeys here we come…….
Published 6:06 am, 21 Sep 2013
Published 6:04 am, 21 Sep 2013