FaT dOg Cambodia
Trip Start Jul 20, 2007
43Trip End Ongoing
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In the meantime I went to the island to take photos of the school and kids, hoping to encourage some sympathetic hands to dig into pockets on the night. One child went off to round up the children and soon 50 pairs of eyes looked expectantly towards me at the front of the classroom
FaTdOg Cambodia crept up on us. The first minivan was due to arrive at 5pm but by 6pm it was nowhere to be seen. Even worse - only 1 other person was waiting for it! I took a moto down to the beach but the only 4people there were just leaving. I felt like a dry lump of toothpaste. Things improved slightly and between 7 - 10pm there was a constant 30-40 people there but it lacked atmosphere and we were disappointed. Then a miracle - a huge thunder storm (the first rain for weeks) meant everyone had to huddle under the tiny space of the wooden bar. Half the miserable whoppers decided to leave but they were replaced by a two 25 strong convoys of soaking wet people who had arrived on the back of pick up trucks. Finally the idea of 'get wasted, the bar money goes to charity' took hold and 60 people danced to probably the first minimal ever heard in Cambodia. Before the party I had spent 3days trying to find stuff i could play that wasn't minimal
After a disappointing start it really kicked off. So much so that the bar was drunk completely dry by 1am and no party can continue without alcohol. Even the 12litres of Mekong whiskey we bought for $6 had been guzzled. In hindsight we maybe chose the wrong bar for the party - Francois the owner was under-stocked and if anyone didn't have the right change he gave them the drink for free. Despite this, and all the drinks being $1, we took over $400 on the bar. I was hoping to write about some really random things that happened - naked people painted in the fatdog logo, chasing sheep, chubaka costumes, unannounced guests - but sadly there wasn't enough all stars at this FaTdOg event.
After a minor hick-up (see people to avoid while traveling #5 at the bottom) we had the honour of going to the island, and handing over $190 to the chief of the village. I must banish these preconceptions I have about village chiefs: he was neither old, nor fat, nor bearded, didn't smoke a sheesha, and didn't even wear a hula skirt or any elaborate style outfit
We have seen many poor communities over the past 8months but there was something so desperate about the situation in Koh Rong Samleom that made us want to stay. The village is completely isolated, 2hours by boat from the mainland, the average monthly family income is less than $20, most people are illiterate and none of the children are being educated. Most people have never seen TV. We took a dvd player over one night and started watching the BBC's Blue Planet. A few kids peered through the windows to catch a glimpse so we invited them in. Soon there was 40 people sat with us watching David Attenborough narrate through 3hours of killer whales and sea slugs. The teacher starts tomorrow.
People to avoid while traveling #5 - Cambodian van drivers
It might seem harsh to associate a whole group of people with the actions of 1 person but the exists on such stereotypes. The van driver who took people to and from the party wanted $40 for the whole night. After a couple of hours he started stropping and decided he wouldn't continue unless we have him $80. So at the end of the night we paid him $80. The next morning he went to the Dive Shop and claimed he hadn't been paid and was owed $120. He became very aggressive, shouted at everyone for 10minutes, punched some tables, and convinced Rudi, the owner, to give him the money. Put simply, he stole the money that would of paid a Khmer teacher for 4months. Its the equivalent of you or me walking into a charity shop and demanding five grand. Fortunately, Rudi was very embarrassed about what he had done and covered the mistake with his own money. If you ever meet a Cambodian van driver, steal his keys and smash his van up. The world would be a better place.