Sunday, 15 January 2017

The promise of an island and an old promise fulfilled (Sihanoukville to Koh Rong)

I finally get up at 5 am.  That's 10 hours of sleep.  And I'm sure I needed it. I remember that for a 1 am cigarette break I awoke drenched in sweat but was shivering in the air-conditioned room. The STRANGE thing was that when I was immersed in the 25 degree air on the balcony during my smoke, I was still shivering.   Is THAT how malaria starts?   Only time will tell ;-)

After last night's weakness, I'm not sure why I decide to walk again.  But hey, gotta fight age every chance one gets.

The route leads us through the 'amusement district' again.

Sad Sihanoukville.  No playing with my billiard balls !

Now if it had been called the Crazy German Bar, I might have considered ;-)
All the heartfelt SMILING replies of all those tuk-tuk drivers whose offers I DECLINED with a namaste and 'NO, thank you', reminds me of what Julian said two months ago "If you treat Cambodians like dirt, the rip you off. But then you deserved nothing else.  On the other hand, if you treat them like people, they will brighten your day".   And Julian has it nailed !

We are steaming and sweating our way up yet another hill when all of a sudden I see it.  ORANGE.  

Monks !
Lots of monks.  
Monks of different colours !   Old monks and young monks !
Two minutes later I finally realize what I am seeing and my eyes tear up.   
Remember how I went to the morning monk feeding in Luang Prabang and I hated it because it was so bastardized by ill-behaved Western tourists?  And how I had been looking forward to experience that monk feeding in Laos !

OK, so the post gives away that this is in Sihanoukville, but that's all I'm telling you, knowing full well that the 5-suitcase crowd does NOT explore much ;-)

Here in Sihanoukville I expected nothing but dirty streets and even dirtier old men but I am rewarded by a monk feeding that is entirely free of tourists (you may notice from the pictures that I made sure that I was more than 30 or 40 meters distant when taking them).   

Modern times seem to have entered here as well. It's not only rice that the monks are receiving.

I could have lingered here for much longer and would have enjoyed taking more pictures, but somehow I feel like an intruder.  And there are ferry tickets to be purchased !

The ocean gives and the ocean takes is a common Cambodian saying.  Half the country is mostly worried about finding enough food for their families.   So most bodies of water look like this:
The other side of the coin:  On the still pristine beach of Koh Rong, I will frequently spot cigarette butts in the sand.   Western cigarettes. Dropped by Western tourists. Those same tourists that will return home and in an appalled tone will tell stories of HOW DIRTY Cambodia is.   

Halfway through the 5 km walk to the pier (WHAT am I thinking; I almost collapsed yesterday and I'm walking again?  The monks were the reward, LOL) that bloody hernia starts acting up and I wave down a tuk-tuk.  Serendipity Beach Pier, please!

A tuk-tuk box in the pick-up box  The driver is down there 
We get our tickets to Koh Rong easily, and with a new ferry company in business, the return ticket is $5 cheaper than only two month ago (How often have you seen ANYTHING getting cheaper in the West due to 'market forces'?  Here, in a COMMUNIST country, the market works ! At home when someone says 'supply and demand' it's almost exclusively used to justify a price INCREASE, LOL)

We have a bit more than an hour to kill before we have to get back to the ferry office to collect our colour-coded neck-bands, so we head to the bar run by people originally from somewhere between Greece and Egypt (The people your government tells you to be very afraid of when they present themselves as refugees).   A beef burger with fries for $4.50 in a prime location. Not too bad.  Since I already had guessed at the approximate location of origin of the owner, I re-confirm the Turkish word for Thank You  (Tesekkur Ederim) with Zulema, because my gut feeling has nailed down Turkey as the most likely origin and I am determined to ask him later where he is from.

So when he answers 'Turkey' to my question , the Tesekkur Ederim reply is not far behind.  Why do I run around speaking strange languages in strange countries?   2 minutes later (I am at the beach for a cigarette), the owner brings an ashtray for me to use at our table INSIDE the restaurant.

Time to board the ferry which even leaves on time today ;-)

When we depart, we are informed that this time only will make one stop before delivering us to our destination (NOTE the absence of a specific name place ;-)   During the journey, we sit in a row behind a young woman with fabulous hair, a fabulous tattoo, and fabulous accessories. Strange how despite all this outer beauty my gut feeling keeps whispering something entirely different.
The wicked witch about to spew her venom
So when it becomes apparent that MY destination will be the first stop and HER destination NOT the first stop, she STARES at the other village visible on the shore and gets up.   Oh OH, HERE WE GO is all my gut says.  She walks towards the Captain's chair and I can see in her body language what my gut had guessed before.

Then she points at her village on the shore and says something with that face that Western tourists have when they believe that the locals have ripped them off.   The Captain just shakes his head and points at MY village.   

What follows next, neither my brain nor my gut could have foreseen.
Her body language shows her disgust.  But there is more.  The boat's noise drowns any sounds she or the Captain make, but I can see her face and her hands.  No, she doesn't give the Captain the finger.  I wish she had.  Instead, her face and whole posture emit such a APPALLING level of PURE HATE, like I have rarely seen in my life.   And all for having to wait an extra 15 minutes for her pier to be reached after ours.     

Zu, on the other hand, points out that even if we had had to stop 3 times at Koh Rong Samloem, like I had to do last time, we would really just be getting an extended Tropical Island Cruise for free. 

No comments:

Post a Comment