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Archive for September, 2007|Monthly archive page

Angkor What?, Travel-log (day 42), Siem Reap Cambodia

In Cambodia, travel on September 30, 2007 at 02:28

It’s a rainy sunday in Siem Reap. Today is my lazy day, my day of rest from the crowds of tourist and con artist disguised as children. The last three days have been amazing but equally exhausting. The beauty of the temples is too grand to put into words. Leen and i started out with Banteay Kdei, Pre Rup, Eastern Mebon, Ta Som.. and finished off the first day at Preah Khan. They were all beautiful. Preah Khan gave us a preview of how nature had taken back what man had build to displace it. Our second day started early. We watched the sun rise at Angkor Wat Angkor Wat with lots of other people waiting to dazzle their eyes with something spectacular. It was cloudy. But the sun still rose and the sky lit up and the previously dark shadow that was Angkor Wat suddenly became this massive structure in front of us. The temple city was massive, and for this reason impressive but a big massive stone structure is a big massive stone structure. I prefered the smaller temples we had seen the day before. We continued on to Bayon which peaked my interest again with its multitude of faces. Eash time you looked up you could be sure there would be a big stone face looking back down at you. Baphuon, Terrace of Elephants, Terrace of the Leper King, and then Ta Prohm which was by far my favourite. There were trees growing out of walls and buildings and basickly anything that stood in their way. Man builds a grand city and displaces nature. Man dies, nature reclaims buildings, nature wins. We walked around in awe and as we stared at the endless piles of crumbles rocks with trees on top it started to rain.

On day three we ventured further afeild to Banteay Samre and Banteay Srei. There were nice and small. I apreciated these more than that grand Angkor Wat. We finished off yesterday with a sunset over the lake at the top of a mountian at a temple with a hundred of our closest friends. The sunset was beautiful but more amazing was the circus of people watching it. We got back to the city and i found a welcome suprise of friendly faces. Leila and Jari had arrived. The four of us had dinner at a local family run place that served me the most wonderful fried pumpkin dish. I really must learn to make it. It was sooo good i am thinking i will go there tonight and have it again .

Tomorrow i will head to Phnom Penh. I will only stay here long enough to process my vietnam visa then im heading off to Ho Chi Minh a week early. Stay tuned for more adventures of me. And possibly photos soon!

p.s.

I was granted my Finland visa.

Temple ho, travel-log(day 38), siem reap cambodia

In Cambodia, travel on September 27, 2007 at 07:35

I left Battambang on wednesday morning at 07:00 on a boat headed to Siem Reap. My new friend Leen was headed the same way so we decided to stick together. The boat ride was very relaxing. It is hard for me to imagine living on a house in the water or even a boat but i foud myself surrounded by hundreds of such things. There were huoses built on stilts completely surrounded by water. There were boats with two walls a roof and two doorways inside there were hamocks and children smiling and happily waving to the current entertainment ( us). I took way too many photos but i am having a hard time uploading them so you wil just have to wait to see. BUt trust me when i say it was beautiful. We arrived i think 7 hours later around 2:00pm but i was tired and don’t recall e xactly what time it was. As soon as the boat got close enough to shore tuk tuk and moto drivers jumped on board and started removing our bags and trying to get us to go with them. this was possibly the frst time i was startled by ther assertiveness. Leen and i had already decided to stay at popular guesthouse as it was suggested to me by my friend Mark before i left the US and then again by 3 people i had met while traveling. The tuk tu driver told us the ride was free and said he knew where popular was located though tried very hard to convince us to go elsewhere. When we arrived at popular and did not change our minds the ride suddenly cost money. My $3 room at popular is basic. I have a clean bed, a fan, a coast rack which comes in handy for drying clothes, a table, and my very own trail of ants on the wall. the room is fairly clean but the shared bathroom down the hall could use a little attention. but for $3 a night i really cant complain.

Bamboo and raindrops, Travel-log (day 36), Battambang Cambodia

In Cambodia, travel on September 25, 2007 at 19:19

I left the guesthouse early on Monday. It was only 6am so not so bright, but definatly early. The bus was scheduled to leave at 7 am and it actually left ontime. I Hadn’t yet decided where i was going but i would have 3 to 5 hours to think about it. I was the only foreigner on the bus.

Cambodian drivers are crazy. When i first arrived in the country i think it was a full hour before i was positive which side of the road they were uposed tobe driving on. They drive on both almost equally depending on which side offeres the least resistance. Oncomming traffic is not always enough of a reason to stay on the other side of the road. BUt to be fair i haven’t seen any traffic accidents. They are constantly warning people of their presence with the wonder sound of the horn. If a bike is on or near the road they get beeped at. If a moto driver is in front they get beeped at. If a person several feet away from the road looks in the direction of a passing car or moto, they get beeped at. Needless to say my 3 to 5 hour drive to Phnom Phen was going to be a loud one. I decided i’d go on whatever bus was leaving first. This was a bus to Battambang which is in the north. I didn’t really know what was there but i had planned on going anyway. I arrived late and got off the bus to a crowd of drivers all wanting to take me to a guesthouse of their choice. I found a guy holding a sign from the place i had planned on staying at and went with him. His name was Chinchin (sp) and he spoke english very well. He spent the entire time trying to get me to agree o a tour for the next day, but i had other plans. The guide book spoke of day trips from the city but i was just going to walk around for 2 days efore heading off to Siem Reap. I got up early the next morning and headed ot on y walk. I was greete by chinchin and again he asked if i wanted a tour. I informed him i was going for a walk. And i did… for hours. I walked and i watched people walking, working, playing, living. I went to a few temples and listened to the monks. I got some fruit from the market and eventually ended up back at the hotel. It was only 09:30. Chinchin was of course waiting at the door. He asked how my walk was and again asked if i wanted atour. With my 2 days worth of plans completed ( in 3 hours) i had nothing else to do so told him id go in an hour. I ate breakfast, showered and hopped on the back of his moto. This turned out to be a very very good idea. We took to dirt roads and went through the vilages. OUr first stop was Wat Phnom Sampeau which was located at the top of a roadless mountian. Chinchin let me off at the bottom and i was told i could hire a small child guide for $1 or i could take an english speaing guide for $3. I was going to be cheap but opted for the $3 guide. Sakluk (sp) was his name but he told me to call him Terry. Terry was very informative but took every spare moment to either tell me how fat i as or to try and convince me i should give him $20 to pay for his english lessons. The walk was hard and i am indeed fat, but i made it to the top to see the killing caves and memorial. And still further to the top of the temple. At the top i met two people. We were all winded sweaty and tired. We started talking i think more to waste time and rest before the last flight of stairs. They were both really nice. Matt from the US now living in singapore, and Melanie from the Netherlands. We spent time at the top looking at the temple and talking about random things. We made plans to meet for dinner. After i went to another temple, up a very very very high flight of stairs, but i made it, and i ran into a girl staying at my hotel Leen from belgium. We stood at the top and waiting for the comming rain storm to start. We got drebched and it was amazingly fun. BY the time we got to the bottom of the stairs to meet our moto drivers we couldnt have been any more wet if we had jumped into a pool. Our drivers laughed at us and we went to sit with them and waited for the rain to stop. After we decided to go find the infamous bamboo train! We found it! We road on it! it was dangerous and scary and sooooo fun!

Pictures to come soon as i can upload them.

The internet in cambodia is very very slow.

I am not a 2×4, Travel-log (day 34), Sihanoukville Cambodia

In Cambodia, travel on September 23, 2007 at 03:54

It eventually stopped raining in Sihanoukville. I went to the beach to enjoy the rays and soon remembered that i hate the sun. Sihanoukville is a total beach resort town… i also hate tourist. A german couple( Jari and Leila) i had met on the mini bus from Thailand had invited me to join them on an adveture to Kampot and then to Bokor National park which is between Kampot and Sihanoulville. I had planned on going there anyway and company is always welcome. The Sunday started early. we left Sihanoukville at 06:30 for our 2 hour ride to Kampot. In Kampot we picked up two brits Will and Orlando, and then headed out on our guided tour of Bokor National park. We were in the back of a pick up truck, our chests about level with he top of the cab of the truck. At the start we were driving through town, it was interesting if not slightly dangerous. We went accross a bridge and had to duck else our heads be cut off by the sign informing us that we were obvously too tall to be crossing. It was just a preview of what was to come later. The ride to Bokor hill station ( at the top of bokor national park) was something i will never forget. We started driving up a dilapidated road. From there it only got worse. The “road”became more like what i imagine a river bed looks like. Unpredictable holes, large and small rocks jutting out at random points, and slick mud sometimes deep.. sometimes shallow. We sped up this “road” through the low hanging branches and foliage. Did i mention that we were siting in the back of the uncovered pick up truck? Our heads above the top of the roof of the passenger and driver portion of the truck. We dodged tree branches and spiky plants as they came at our faces and heads at an alarming speed all the while trying not to break out backs against the bars behind us or our asses on the barely padded “seat” while we bounced around. It was a bonding experience. We did manage to safely reach the top some 2 hours later, with sore butts and bruised backs and arms, but alive and smiling. We walked around the ghost town that the french had built in the 20’s and abandoned by the 40’s. It was both beautiful and scary. We explored the ghost town and then went to explore a waterfall. I assumed we were just going to up near it and watch it from a reasonable distance. I was of course wrong. We slowly walked through a shallow stream ( the tp of the waterfall) accross a group of rocks. That was nice i thought and figured we were done. Then i looked over the edge and saw people standing in the waterfall. I eventually got up enough courage to climb down, but i did not have steady enough feet to walk in the water to the actual falls. It was nice. Afterwards we eventually all climbed back up and headed back to the truck for our bumpy ride home. Some 3 hours later we had reached the road to kampot and Leila, Jari and i found our taxi to sihanoukville waiting. We said our goodbyes to Orlando and Will and headed back for the 2 hour ride back to Sihanoukville.

Water water everywhere…travel-log (day 32), Sihnoukville Cambodia

In Cambodia, travel on September 21, 2007 at 00:59

I got up early on thursday morning finished packing and headed out of the deserted guest house for the bus station around 05:30. There of ocurse were no taxis around when i actually wanted to take one. I started walking and hoped for the best. Eventually i saw a taxi driver. I had refused his service no less than 6 times the day before because i had prefered to walk, but i was glad to see him then. I was the only foreigner waling the streets and it was still dark and not to mention raining. I got in the back of his pick up truck and we set off along the dark wet road. Five mins into the drive he stops suddenly. I see him get out of the truck and start running to a dark spot behind us. He picks somehting up and then runs back to the truck. In his hands is a turtle. He tosses it into a bucket and gets back into the drivers seat. I don’t think much of it i assume hes gonna take it home to eat or as a pet or whatever. We continue driving and then about 5 mins later we stop again… Another turtle? He gets out of the truck again and runs back to where i am i get confused because i know this is not the bus station but its still too dark to actually see around. He gets the turtle out of the bucket mumbles somehting and smiles. I then notice that we are near soem water and he is returning the turtle to what will now become home. I smile at him and we continue are way to the bus. We get there in what i think is on time for the next ride tot he cambodia boarder. I am the only one around. I ask the minibus driver if we are leaving at 06:00 and he responds 10 people. I look around again.. i am still the only one around. I sat down and expected to be wiating a while. Moments later in the distance i see a little man walking towards me a rolling suitcase in tow. This had to be a tourist i thought. As it turns out he was a french man ( i never did get his name) and he was on his way back home to Sihanoukville Cambodia, the same beach town i was headed to. We talked while we waited for the 8 other people to fill the minibus. He was very interesting and a little odd, but not in a scary way. Eventually around 07:20 we were told we were leaving. It took about 90 mins to get to the cambodian boarder and just before we exit the minibus the french guys points out where the thai boarder exit is and the minibus is swarmed by taxi drivers and people demanding to help you. I declind help. I think i am capable of walking 20 feet with no help, but they keep insisting. The lovely French guy tells them to fuck off and i ask if i can stick aorund him for a little while longer. We walk over to the cambodian side and he shows me where i need to go to get my visa. I open the door and am suddenly surrounded by a familiar smell… you know the lovely green herb that helps you relax and helps you develop a condition known as the munchies. The boarder patrol guards hear me open the door and start wandering in. I am surrounded by 5 people in uniforms and handed a form to fill out. My hands start shaking but i still somehow manage to write down all the information required. They then demand 1200 baht ( $35), i pause for a moment and say $20 they say 1200 baht again with no hesitation. I think about demanding i pay the correct price but then i realize its just me and them, and they have nothing else to do all day but hold me here. SO i pay the money and go. I am glad to see the french guy had waited for me, and already nagotiated a taxi price into town to try and catch the bus that has aparently not yet left. We get to town and find that the bus has left but the taxi chases it down. This was fun. 10 mins later we find a full minibus on the side of the road waiting. We pay them $15 each.

I expected to see alot of povery ridden houses along the road but found the road mostly lined with rock faces and water falls. It was beautiful.  The ride was long but great. We stoped 4 times to get on a raft to cross the river and i managed to speak to a few other people on the bus.  We reached Sihanoukville some 6 hours later and i thanked the french guy again and started to go on my way when Jamie ( a british guy from the bus) asked if i wanted to share a taxi with him and his friends. I did not want to end up being the only person in the guest house like in Trat so i went along.

We are staying at a guest house near the beach called GST, its $4 a night. $4 a night! The walls are a bit dirty but the bed is ok and i have my own bathroom with shower and cable tv. I let Jamie and Ash convince me to go into town with them via motor bike. at first i was a little terrified, but my insurence coveres moto bike accidents so what the hell i thought. It was alot of fun. I of ocurse id not drive one i rode on the back of Jamie’s bike while Ash rode with his Cambodian friend.

Today i expected to spend most of my time relaxing and being lazy on the beach, but istead i find myself writting and listening to the rain. Its pouring. It has been raining for 2 days. and i love it! I will go to the bech later for a swim. Whats it matter if you get wet in the rain if you are just going to get in the water anyway?

Stay tuned for more reports from rainy Cambodia.

ps. I dont think my phone will work here. So if you dont get a hole of me dont be worried.  If my phone does not work in Vietnam i will get a vietnam number in a few weeks, but foreigners can not buy sim cards here so i have no chance of getting a cambodian number.  But dont worry im fine!

Have you ever been in a steam room? , travel-log (day 29), Bangkok Thailand

In Thailand, travel on September 18, 2007 at 00:14

Imagine you are in a steam room…. only the steam room is kind of smelly and full of people, and cars, and buses, and motorcycles, and its not relaxing because its too loud. That’s Bangkok.

The plane flew over a sea of glowing lights. The glow was different than i had seen before, not really over powering like vegas, but kind of mystical. We touched down and the screen in front of me informed that the temperature was 84°F (29°C), at 10:20pm. Yay.  I managed to find my lugage and get through cuztoms alright. Yay again for my wonderful empty passport ( though it will soon be filling up with visas).  I found a taxi easy enough and everything seemed to be going well until i realized the taxi driver could not understand my english directions, and i of ocurse did not have the address where iw as going written down in thai. It was a long adventurous journey but i managed to find my couch surfing host Michael. , or rather he found me with the aid of a lovely guy in an internet cafe. We chated for a while and then my sleep deprived body started shaking and i went to sleep. I have walked aorund a little this morning, and its of course even hotter now tomorrow ( wednesday) i will head off to Trat and then to Cambodia, and go to the beach to relax and swim. Now i am off to find some yummy food!

Not so New any more, travel-log (day 27) Auckland, NZ

In new zealand, photos, travel on September 16, 2007 at 00:52

My adventure in New Zealand has come to a close. Right now i am sitting in an over prices hostel that is far too large and very impersonal. I prefer couch surfing or smaller hostels. New Zealand is a beautiful country, full of green hills, friendly people, and lots and lots and LOTS of sheep.
It was great seeing Dan and Courtney! And we had tons of fun which included wine tasting, swinging on swings, walking through Rivendel, throwing rocks at a wall (as it turns out i suck at this activity), watching funny educational videos at Te Papa ( the meuseum in Wellington, and most important of all playing the wonderful card game of Mille Bornes . The time spent huddled around their space heater beating Dan at cards, laughing and eating left overs was simply wonderful.

I have finished uploading photos to the New Zeland group
http://www.flickr.com/photos/quinnwick/sets/72157601899269375/

But i will continue to upload photos to the toilet group
http://www.flickr.com/photos/quinnwick/sets/72157601893863690/

At the moment they all look the same but my next adventure will be in south east asia, so the toilets should start to get interesting.

My thai phone number should be activated from tuesday morning so fell free to try and call or send text messages, though i make no promises to answer them but i will do my best!

The cold cold south. travel-log (day 17) Upper Hutt, NZ

In new zealand, photos, travel on September 6, 2007 at 22:27

One would think that people who live in cold places would have elaborate ways of warming their homes.  One would be wrong.  The houses in New Zealand are not equiped with heaters, nor are the houses insulated. This means it is cold cold cold! New Zeland sits aproxbetween 38 – 48 degrees South, only 32 degrees from the south pole which sits at 80 degrees south. That is roughly equal to the bottom tip of Sweeden’s and or Montana’s closeness to the North pole( for starters).  No one would give it a second thought if you said these places were cold in the winter, but you say that it is cold in New Zeland and people look at you funny. Last night it was 41°F  (5°C ) outside, which means it was 41°F (5°C ) inside. I bundled up in my sleepingbag, which is suposed to keep me not frozen down to 20°F (-7°C ), and a thick blanket. Curled up on an air mattress next to a space heater i managed to fall asleep. I dare not have any part of my body exposed to the air. This meant my head was fully enclosed inside the sleepingbag and i placed a pillow above my head so that there would be no draft. In the morning Dan and Courtney come out of their room dressed in what looks like enough layers warm enough to climb a mountian.. they were dressed in their Pjs. As i crawled out of my warm cocoon i wondered how i was ever going to survive living in Finland. But then i remembered… Finnish people believe in heat!

I have uploaded my photos so far.

There is one set of photos taken in new zeland.          http://www.flickr.com/photos/quinnwick/sets/72157601899269375/

One set of bathrooms that i have used since leaving the US.( this set will continue to grow throughout my travels. http://www.flickr.com/photos/quinnwick/sets/72157601893863690/

My US train adventure. Not many photos and most of them boring. http://www.flickr.com/photos/quinnwick/sets/72157601900768847/

And somewhere on the main page there are a few photos of the fiji airport.

Art Yucko , travel-log (day 15) Napier, NZ

In new zealand, travel on September 5, 2007 at 15:35

I  could get used to riding on the bus gazing at the endless hills of green speckled with  white and black ( sheep). I am sitting on a slightly uncomfortable chair in my pjs at a hostel in Napier. I was very excited to come here. In the 1931 there was a huge earthquake which destroyed most of the town and so they ended up building new buildings in the style of the time. Art Deco! I was excited to see an emtire town of art deco buildings. I was. I went out for the 2 hour walking tour egar to hear all about the buildings and their motifs. As it turns out… i do not like Art Deco. I got a little bored with staring at the sharp designs and triangular shaps  of the buildings. The pastel colours reminded me of baby puke and not art at all. I am glad at went i did learn alot about the earthquake and how Napier had changed, but i probbaly should have gone on the earthquake historical walk. Napier is beautiful still. It is a town by the sea. Wide open sea.   The water is a beautiful blue and full of glorious waves.

In other news.  I met two american girls ( Ruth and Emma) at the bus station in Rotorua on my way out to Napier. They had only just arrived. We swapped stories exchanged emails and said goodbye. It was fun finally meeting people to talk to i thought and i looked forward to meet8ing more people. The hostel here in Napier was great for that ii went out with a few people talked a bunch and made a bus travel budy atleast up until wellington. Late last night as i was playing a game of BANG! ( yes i got people to play BANG!) a new person arrived. I looked up and saw Ruth stanidng there. We all gave her the  run down on Napier and told her that staying only a few hours to explore was probably enough. I think she will be on the wellington bus this afternoon.

Stay tuned for my adventures with Courtney and Dan!

Smells like [CENSORED]…, travel-log (day 13) Rotorua, NZ

In new zealand, travel on September 3, 2007 at 17:34

“You don’t smell Rotorua long before you see it but it’s hard to convince yourself otherwise once you arrive.” Says my guide book.. and they are sooo right.

Early sunday morning Chris instructed me on how to lock up the house and left for work. I gathered up my things and a picked a few more grapefruit and kiwis before i said good bye to the animals and the farm and went out to the road to wait for my bus. The bus driver was very friendly. I had to backtrack up north to get a bus to take me east to Rotorua. The bus driver to Rotorua was extreemly talkative andi had to pretende i understood what he was talking about when he kept going on about some football ( soccer) game from saturday night. Eventually he realized i had no clue what he was talking about and switched topics.

I stayed at a hostel called Central Backpackers which is located in the center of town but on a side street which keeps down on the noise of drunken backpackers. Though since it is the off season town is pretty dead anyway. I went to aMaori concert and had a
Hangi. The food was excellent but from what i understand not made with traditional ingredients. It was nice to see a Haka in perosn though the anthropologist in me longed to experience a real one and not just the tourist show they put on night after night.

Rotorua is a spa town. There are hot springs nearly everywhere and mud baths at certain spots. I was too cheap to splurge for a mud bath, nor did i want to spend the next 3 days smelling like sulfer, so instead i spent most of monday at the aquitic center swimming and soaking in hot tubs. mmmmmmm relaxing.

At the moment i am sitting in the reading/computer lounge of the Hostel wasting time before my next bus. Stay tuned for next time.