Saturday, 4 November 2017

A bumpy boat ride & stuck for 40 hours in Sihanoukville

5 am

Good timing.  Today is not a day for sleeping in.

Julian's teenage employee is not doing her morning calisthenics on the pier, so I can have it for my stretches, which still seem to be necessary to return to being able to walk straight in the morning.

And this is a good setting for those stretches.  
Who said one had to be fully awake for that?
As soon as I'm back in my hut, I notice Crippled Dog has settled in front of my balcony.   
One of his hind legs is useless and he seems to be set to adopt me.  He is a gorgeous and friendly dog and I sincerely hope that he gets used to his crippled hind leg.  Because no vet is waiting for a dog that can't walk in these parts.  Only the BBQ. Oh, you don't like that?   OK, before you go huff and puff, go hungry for a week (NO, REALLY hungry), and then dare to cast your judgement.
I had confirmed my car ride across the island with the ferry company for 10:20 today.  But Julian's wife asks me to take the 8:10 truck so that I can accompany other guests of her who don't know where to go.  Oh, go ahead, twist my rubber arm !  But that means that I don't have time for the decadent breakfast at the French resort, so I eat at my hut instead.

I want more sausage, even if it's dog meat.  NONE of the usual greasy fillers they use back at home.  This sausage is PURE MEAT !
The ferry from Coconut Beach leaves for Koh Touch & Sihanoukville at 9:10 am.  The reason I still get a seat in the packed boat is only because the 4 Polish people who WANTED to take the EARLY CAR and who are the only reason that I took the early car myself now have decided they only want to take the noon ferry from Coconut beach.  

For Fuck's Sake, can't you make up your friggin mind????

One young Cambodian is already retching into a plastic bag when I board the boat.  His mother does a good job of massaging his head and handing him smelling salts.  Should I point out that keeping an eye on the horizon is much more important and beneficial?   How would I say that in Khmer?   A police officer makes sure EVERYONE wears their orange life vest.  I visualize a capsized boat with all the life-vest-wearers floating like corks under the ceiling, unable to reach the exit in the lowest part of the boat and take my vest OFF the very moment that the cop leaves the boat.

What can I say?  The voyage is ROUGH.   Flying over wave troughs and crashing into the next crest is not the worst by far.   Neither is the boat being twisted about its longitudinal axis.  

The worst part is that the buckets and buckets and buckets of splash water make it IMPOSSIBLE to keep an eye on the horizon so that I am VERY glad when the boat reaches calmer water as it approaches the mainland because I was already readying my new hat as a puke receptacle.

10:45 When I get to Laluna in Sihanoukville, the prorietress and the waitress both recognize me.  The owner starts talking to me in French. Oh No, I know what's coming now. 

Je ne parle pas francais.  Ce vrais !  I say in perfect rhythm and intonation.  This has happened to me in France so often. I have said the phrase "I do not speak French" so often by now, that I can say it in perfect French.   So no one believes me when I say it.  Supplementing it with "It's true!" only seems to make things worse, LOL. 


I'm still sitting at Laluna, waiting for my room to be ready, sipping a glass of Rose while the waves gently lap at the beach behind my back.   I read the news on my laptop.

WHAT was that?

It is SNOWING in VANCOUVER, LOL  (just a tiny twinge of guilt involved in the wicked smile that is spreading over my face writing this )

By 15:00 I'm close to completing a translation (YES, I do WORK as well, but it's nowhere as interesting as traveling so you won't read about it much ;-).

Good thing I decide to hire a motorbike to the Railway station after all.  (OK, so the motorbike takes me to the bus depot. We find a guy who speaks English, I ask him, he tells my driver, and everything works out fabulously ;-).  When we get to the TRAIN STATION, I find out that tomorrow's train to Takeo is SOLD OUT.  Good thing I didn't find this out when arriving at the train station at 6 am tomorrow morning as in my original plan ;-).   There is no other way to get to Takeo without pain, so I buy a train ticket to Phnom Penh for Sunday.    Disaster averted again.

When I get back to my place, JULIAN is sitting there waiting for me.  GREAT JOY!  We drink and chat for a couple of hours.  

After his 4th beer he starts calling the barman SAM and asks me "How did you know his name is SAM?" 
Serve it again, Sam !
It takes me a whole minute to realize that every time I pushed Julian's empty glass towards the bartender, I said "SAUM", i.e Please!

And I finally clue in what Julian meant when he was saying that it is a holiday in Cambodia.  it is Bon Om Touk again !  He confirms "Yes, my wife said that it is the Water Festival".  
Girl watching the Bon Om Touk floats in 2016

I was present in Phnom Penh for Bon Om Touk only LAST YEAR under the SUPER MOON.   What a small world ;-)


Is it midnight? is the first thought in my head groggily rising from its sleepy fog.


SIX THIRTY?   I slept THIS LONG? OMG !  That's a total of about 10 hours sleep, LOL.
SPAM again ????

The gorgeous AND smart Khmer waitress is flirting with me.

She points out that she is a Single Mom with 2 kids but wants more because they are so cute.  Do you have children?  Why NOT? How old are you?  

She even voices the phrase "No Money, No Honey" but has to laugh herself while blushing....   The land of Milk & Honey, LOL. 

Here is yet another episode in the 'No good deed goes unpunished'  Saga.

I walk over to Chochi at 10:00 to possibly give Laluna a chance to start cleaning early.  Chochi confirms that my room will be ready by 10:30.

When I return at 10:45 (having checked out of Laluna), they tell me that the previous occupants have not checked out yet.  WTF ?

Actually it's all for the best.  While sitting at the counter of Chochi Reception, I notice the receptionist's Winston cigarettes and after patting myself down realize that I've left mine at Laluna.   When I get to Laluna, I realize that I also left a drying shirt on the terrace.  Moral?  It's a FULL MOON.  Everyone seems to be mentally malfunctioning today.  It's no coincidence that the word lunatic comes from Luna (the moon, NOT the hotel in this instance LOL)

I hang out 2 more hours at LaLuna (the different spelling seems appropriate for the full moon today), working on my blog and chatting with the waitress.

Back at Choci, I am informed that the room might be ready SOON but that the cleaning staff is having lunch now.  This gives me a chance to chat with Francesca, the Italian proprietress of Chochi.   Live and Learn, LOL.

Then:  The room not being ready is no longer the problem.   The toilet seems to have disconnected from the pipe to the septic tank, with all the smelly fun that entails.

So I get upgraded to a much more expensive air-conditioned room without having to pay the extra.   Pas mal !


I think this calls for a nap ;-)
I wake up ENERGIZED and REFRESHED one hour later.  Must remember this place, because with all the pesticide, noise, etc etc issues in the hotels of this world, waking up feeling THIS well is a rarity.

I also received a new e-mail.  I am now the holder of an approval letter for a 3 Months multiple Entry visa to Vietnam. 

Sure, it's NOT at all difficult to get one of these, but as a sign of my maturing relationship with Vietnam it is priceless !

With Julian being incapacitated (HOLY SHIT [Bad Pun]: A person who has lived in Cambodia for YEARS but whose digestive system still hasn't gotten used to the various micro-organisms, whereas mine definitely has), I find myself at a loss about what to do with the rest of the day.   

Not to worry though, as seems to be the case every time I leave Vancouver, e-mail correspondence with various great friends scattered around the globe seems to resurrect itself almost by magic.  Paris, Salzburg, Istanbul, and various other dots on my World map of friends suddenly start blinking with activity again.   

OK, so I've had half a bottle of Rose today but I haven't eaten since breakfast.  Got to balance those two NOW. 
In view of slimming down and not risking eating at a different place (think Julian !), I've decided to eat what I ate yesterday. (NO picture yet). Carpaccio de Barracuda, Tahitian style at Laluna.  In addition, they have fabulous WiFi!  BUT I also don't want to leave Sihanoukville without trying Grilled Octopus on a stick as offered by the women sitting around a little grill down by the ferry pier.   
The NEW Sihanoukville ....

I prefer it the way it used to be ....

Solution: Walk back to LaLuna (if there is ANY day to act crazy, it is today, day of the full moon ;-), get small change, walk back to the pier,get myself a small grilled octopus for 2000 Riel (US$ 0.50) and walk back to drink some Rose and eat some Barracuda.   Sounds reasonable?  Planned and executed.

The Octopus is divine.  The vendor pours a bit of home-made sweet chili sauce into a Styrofoam tray for dipping.  Homemade sweet chili sauce?   NOTHING can go wrong NOW, LOL.

Barracuda Carpaccio 

I have a look at the news again.


Does that just look like a TYPHOON or is it the REAL THING???? 

This is happening RIGHT NOW !

Of course, I don't see this on German or Canadian or North American news.   I read Vietnamese News, LOL.

I'm NOT too worried about where I presently am (behind the mountains and in the South in the NO RISK zone).  But my future home is located in the RED ZONE .....


I'm back in my hotel.  The EXCELLENT Barracuda Carpaccio & 2 glasses of delightful Rose cost me US$ 13. 

You think that's cheap, eh?   Rightly so, ..... but......

I feel guilty for having paid that much. It's no problem for me, but for a Cambodian that is an AWFUL lot of money.   

One travels and one learns ....


I have an early day tomorrow.  Sleep?

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