A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: sarchasm1

Kathryn is Lameo!

Everybody post comments asking for Kat's blog! She is hitting me right now so make this worth it.

Thanks!

Posted by sarchasm1 05:56 Comments (2)

Cambodia - sweet sorrow

sunny 35 °C

I am currently sitting in an internet cafe in Siem Reap. The weather, as always, is 35 degrees and muggy. It is 11 o'clock Thursday morning and I am wondering if it is too early to have a beer. Probably not.

We arrived in the area 4 days ago. Within hours of arrival Kat and I had both expressed our joy at being here and our mutual wish to stay longer. I have to say that our planned trip to India now looks like it might fall by the wayside to make room for more time in Cambodia and Vietnam. I'd also like us to visit Singapore again if I can work it. This is all direct result of a very brief exposure to Cambodia. A desire that has not waned with further experience.

We have kept busy(ish) visiting temples and getting to know the region of Angkor, as well as the tourist center of Siem Reap. I find it, hard, to describe my feelings for this place. Heck, I find it hard to figure out what they might be.

The temples are beautiful and certainly impressive. They speak of the might of vision and of what can be accomplished with determination (with a bit of wealth and power thrown in). It seems to me that religion was integral to a powerful kingdom. People need unity and faith in their leaders as well as a hesitancy to question what is required of them, if a an Oligarchical society is to perform effectively. It seems this was accomplished through the promotion of religion in the peoples lives. Additional tactics seem to be labeling your leader/s as a conduit for communication with/interpretation of God/s and their will. You can also deify your mights leader and subsequently fill your people with a sense of righteousness.

Sorry - got a bit sidetracked there.

Temples. Amazing. Built by hand. Hewn from rock (usually sandstone) that was quarried, again by hand, then transported large distances to the sites and then precision laid, one upon another, to a complex and meaningful design. A lot of lines, well, line up. Anchor Wat alone is made up of 300 million tonnes of sandstone, all meticulously carved. Then there are the water features.

Water was completely integrated throughout the temple complexes. Not just within the temple. Each temple was part of a larger system of irrigation for the kingdom. This system comprised of moats, lakes, ponds, pools, water features and rivers. For the most part these were man made and all very specifically designed to fit within the larger patten.

Just staggering.

But this is not what stays with me.

You hear tales of the Khmer Rouge and their brutal reign. Not in some history book but from a young man standing in front of you explaining, calmly, about the death of their parents, then the later death of their brother and then their subsequent disillusionment with the military. Not much you can do to prepare for that conversation. I just stood on the spot, listened and mourned for this strangers family and his life.

Then there are the children. They are enchanting creatures. Full of life and energy and seemingly fearless. I just watch them and smile.

Then they try to sell you stuff. At length. They are very effective. A young boy, missing a leg (presumably from 'just' another land mine incident) hobbles cheerily up to where Kat and I are eating lunch and delivers some friendliest, most casually impressive patter I have ever heard. Then sells us stuff. Saying no is very, very hard.

Yesterday, after visiting a temple (I forget which one) I am approached by a gorgeous young child. She must be about 12. Almost a woman. She remembers me passing earlier and my promise to 'maybe' look at the goods in her store on the way out of the temple. I had remembered my responsibility and purchased a bottle of water from what I thought was her stand. I was informed in no uncertain terms that this was not her stand and I should have brought the picture, rolled up in my hand, from her stall and not the one in the temple. I expressed regret but explained that I had already spent too much money and didn't need anything else.

The next few minutes an education. She asked many questions to which I had no answer for. The girl went from hopeful and empowered, to negotiating, then wheedling, on to anger, despair, she became vicious and then back to despair. She fled. Sobbing. Wishing that Kat and I would break up and that she hadn't known that all Australians were so mean, so deliberately unkind.

Kat was almost in tears and I wasn't far behind. This incident was not alone.

This country is, confronting.
I am confronted.

Matt

Posted by sarchasm1 21:10 Archived in Cambodia Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

On holiday at last!

semi-overcast 26 °C

The jolt of the plane impacting with the runway roused me from my sleep deprived dose and announced our arrival in the jungle shrouded region, now referred to by all the world as Cambodia.

The relaxed nature of the people was immediately suggested. We clambered down the rigged stairs-on-wheels that were propped against our A320 and walked across the bare patch of concrete that was the 'Siam Reap International Airport' runway, following a relaxed and smiling security guard towards a distant cluster of square buildings. As I glanced around I was filled with the suspicion that we could avoid the whole 'customs' hassle by just simply picking a different direction at random and wandering off.

Since arriving in this beautiful and tragic country I have become completely befuddled with emotion. I have been charmed, harassed, horrified, touched and filled absolutely, with admiration for these amazing people. Somehow, this place, with it's similar technology, street layout and sense of fashion, is somehow different.

An scene replays in my mind. Kat and I have disembarked our very own tuk-tuk following a day of temple gazing and are headed towards a 7-11. I need sweat rash cream and Kat needs, well, everything else. A small and dirty child wearing a ragged smock and no shoes, leading an even smaller, dirtier child with even fewer clothes approaches us. She weakly tugs Kat's dress and mutely performs the internationally accepted sign language of 'I'm so hungry that I might actually die'. Big, soulful, emotional eyes gaze upwards at us as she one hand points to her empty mouth.

I almost broke down and cried on the spot.

Let's rewind.

We were in Phuket (Thailand) on the 12th of May. We overnighted in a pleasant but forgettable bungalow in that forgettable city (think Asian Goldcost, without the redeeming beaches, theme-parks or beer) before rising early on the 13th to head to the worlds least charming airport (this is not true I imagine but not impressive all the same). As a reward for prompt arrival at the airport we were treated to an inexplicably long time to check our bags. There were 3 people in front of us, 4 desks open and it literally took 45 mins to check our bags. After a 40 minute internal debate (which I lost) about whether or not we could afford to purchase a bottle of Aldberg for met to share with my god father, Peter, we were on to Singapore. For those philistines of amongst you who are wondering 'what's Aldberg?', it is a pure malt, Isle of Islay scotch that I have been waiting to try for about 2 years. Next time, again.

Singapore. We were treated to 3 fantastic and relaxing days here. Arriving early on the 13th and leaving ungodly early on the 16th. On a related note. Yes. 30 minutes of sleep are more than enough for anyone. We were in 'Singa's' (as we are old hands by now) so that I could see my other family. My Godfather Peter, his beautiful wife Margie and their 3 amazing kids all live in Singapore now (traitors!). They visit Oz at least once a year but this is never enough. So now it is time to turn the tables.
'I was in the area so I thought I'd drop by, hope it's no trouble'
'Not at all, please come in'
'Oh, you are too kind. Now how about a cup of tea'
I drank three hundred and seventeen cups of tea in two days. Every one tasted delicious.

Pete and Co. are housed in what is referred to as 'a landed community' just outside the international college that seemed to form the epicenter of pre-university education in Singapore. The kids have all attended this extremely frustrating school and I an surprised that none of them have had the decency to decency to sabotage school property, possibly because their mum Margie works there and she would be on to them in a flash. Allow me to explain.

The school literally backs on to their NEXT DOOR NEIGHBOURS PROPERTY. They live, what I estimate to be, at best, 25 meters from the school grounds. However it seems that Greta, Tom and Pia are not allowed to pass through the 4 meters of their neighbors property to attend school/ The result of this is a walk that involves a four hour hike up one side and down the other, of a mountain. Whilst lugging a 15 kilo haversack and dodging ingeniously unpredictable instruments of death, designed to catch out the unwary. Bear in mind that this all needs to be done in an environment in which you break into a sweat just standing still, under an air-conditioner. Our lawyers have asked me to mention that the walk is actually about 15 minutes in length. Up a small incline. Carrying their school books. Oh, and the death machines are cars. But still!

Wow! I really need to cut down on the length of me entries. Stupid lack of blogging skills.

Singapore was terrific. On Friday Kat and I caught the bus into and out of the city. Without incident. This is proof that we are intelligent, seasoned travelers. Yes. Because we caught a bust. Yes, in a city where they speak English. Look, just shut up will you.

Moving on.

Whilst in the city Kat and I wandered around china town, visited the oldest Hindu temple and visited the Asian Civilisation’s Museum. The museum was absolutely amazing. The best I’ve ever been too. They had a display entitled ‘Treasury of the World’. This involved a staggering number of jewels from India, along with a significant display of ancient and ‘magical’ weapons. How happy were we? Photo’s will follow when I upload them.

For the rest of our stay at my new favorite haven, I just laid around the house. Hogging the computer and soaking up tea and hospitality with equal capacity. I thoroughly enjoyed myself. On the last night our hosts took Kat and I out to dinner. First buying me a pint of Kilkenny at an english pub on the river, then feeding us some excellent indian down the ‘strip a bit. I don’t care what any of them are running for. They have my vote.

Oh and for the record, Kat and I won the Wii Celebrity Trivial Pursuit contest. Hands down (quiet Tom, don’t ruing my story).

Ok. So once again I have waffled on a bit. Huge surprise.

Basically the title of this article/blog/whatever indicates that I am now completely at home with doing nothing (which exactly what I want to do a large amount of the time).

Till next time.

Matt

Posted by sarchasm1 00:39 Archived in Singapore Tagged lodging Comments (0)

Photo Snafoo

semi-overcast 22 °C

Hello people of the world.

I have just discovered that all the photo's I have spent ages trying to upload haven't become visible on the blog. Having stared at all the settings and trying to manage it to the end of the earth I have come up with an inconvenient truth. There appears to be no way for photos uploaded under my name (sarchasm1 - matt) to automatically display in the blog. Only photos uploaded under Kat's account will appear automatically. Grrr.

If you would like to see the missing photos you will need to select 'sarchasm1' under the authors sub-heading, down the right hand side. After you have selected sarchasm1 and then clicked on 'more photos' you should be able to see a few more that have been uploaded. If anyone has any problems with this, please let me know.

Additionally, if anyone (I'm looking at you Michael) has any brilliant ideas on how to link my photo's automatically to the blog, I'm all ears.

Cheers guys and I hope that you are all well and happy. We are.

MattKat

Posted by sarchasm1 23:15 Archived in Singapore Tagged blogsherpa Comments (3)

The do's and don'ts of enjoying paradise

29 °C

Do: What ever you like
Don't: Feel obliged to be 'living it up'
Do: What ever you feel like
Don't: Feel like you should be enjoying it in a certain way
Do: Be comfortable with who you are (i.e. old) and what you want to do
Don't: Think you should be 19, even more stupid than you are and a party animal
Do: WHATEVER YOU FEEL LIKE!

You can probably read between the lines. I didn't get it right at the beginning.

Still, we were on Phi Phi. The place was beautiful. Kat was beautiful. Our resort was beautiful. The beaches and the water were beautiful. The seafood was beau... ok.

As apparently I am the most wordy man alive (note: most wordy 'man', I'm no competition for arrghh...) I will attempt to reduce the opportunities to bore you by presenting our stay in Phi Phi in point form (well, summation form or whatever. Silence!).

Friday: We arrive. We walk to resort. We walk around island. We are impressed with paradise. We sweat. Feel like we should do something amazing. Go to resort restaurant. Enjoy greatest salad bar ever. Eat the world. Feel fat. Go to room and watch TV. Feel guilty for not doing amazing things.

Saturday: Enjoy the worlds greatest smorgasbord breakfast. Feel fat. Wander around island introducing Kat to paradise and in no way overusing the phrase 'when Tucky and I were here..'. intend to walk to lookout, decide it is too hard as we sweat just watching people walk from their restaurant table to the bar. We walk from restaurant to the bar. Feel guilt about not walking to lookout. Go to bed and watch TV.

Sunday: Enjoy the worlds greatest smorgasbord breakfast. Feel fat. Day cruise. Swim Loh Samah Bay. Get washed up on rocks. Climb precarious stairs with rope. Trek through jungle. Feel like Indianna Jones. Swim in Maya Bay. Take millions of pictures. Feel awesome. Trek through jungle. Climb rope stairs. Dive off wave battered rocks and swim to boat. Feel like Indianna Jones. Snorkel with huge amounts of tropical fish. Kayak around a deserted island with Kat. Get sunburnt. Have tsunami scare. Watch all passengers panic. Feel smug about not panicking. Panic a little in private. Cruise out to ocean and watch sunset. Take a million pictures. Have memory card fail. Loose pretty much all pictures of holiday to date. Get back to resort, exhausted. Rest for 20 seconds. Feel obliged to go out. Go out and drink a 'bucket' of grog. Deleted scene.

Monday: Wake up with hangover and the feeling that small dwarves have amused themselves all night by beating my brain with a sack full of door knobs. Enjoy the worlds greatest smorgasbord breakfast. Feel fat. Buy a book that consists of Jeremy Clarkson ranting at the universe. Read it. Intend sunset cruise, decide it is too hard and bum around in a restaurant. Feel guilt for not walking to lookout. Watch fire twirling show. Drink a 'bucket'. Deleted scene.

Tuesday: Wake to Kat looking accusative and resentful. Have hangover. Pieces fall into place. Enjoy the worlds greatest smorgasbord breakfast. Feel fat. Trade book in for a Ben Elton novel that explains in detail how stupid I've been not to think about the structure of 'reality' TV. Intend to walk to lookout, decide it is too hard and bum around in the resort pool. Notice large black man who is extremely fit and has aged much better than me has the same camera. Feel bad in comparison. Go to a restaurant. Notice I have used up most of my guilt and feel really good about relaxing. Go back to room and watch TV. Feel guilty.

Wednesday: Rise early and swim in ocean as the sun rises. Feel awesome. Enjoy the worlds greatest smorgasbord breakfast. Feel fat We wander around island and find secluded bay. Read Ben Elton Book. We leave for Phuket. Enjoy fantastic boat ride as I sit on the top floor and watch Phi Phi recede into a sun drenched horizon. Read Ben Elton book. Feel guilt for not having done more amazing things on Phi Phi. Vow to come back. Arrive in Phuket.

Some pictures will follow.

Matt

Posted by sarchasm1 19:20 Archived in Thailand Tagged luxury_travel Comments (2)

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