Easy hike really means K2

Trip Start Jan 12, 2013
Trip End Feb 27, 2013

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Where I stayed
Koh Rong Backpackers Hostel

Flag of Cambodia  ,
Friday, January 18, 2013

Am I getting sucked in? The island life is beckoning. Volunteer opportunities, Western workers wanted, lazy days...how am I supposed to leave here and resume the unknown lone travel into the depths of Cambodia? Phom Penh is supposed to be my next stop and I need to leave tomorrow, but will I? Who knows.

I met a guy Dave here who warned against going into Vietnam anywhere near the buildup and commencement of Tet which is around Feb. 10. My visa is scheduled to start the 1st of Feb...so I guess I gotta find something else to do until then...maybe head into Laos to the north, but I don't know about the border crossings there....basically, my overuse of periods and completely noncommital attitude should convey that this place is already infiltrating my blood. Hell, I've stopped wearing shoes---anywhere! It's a weird, insidious changing that you're not even aware of until you wake from a sleep in a hammock and wonder should you take the water boat taxi back around the island or walk back through the jungle....but, you don't really care either way.

Tonight I'm staying for the first time in dorm rooms. Six or eight to a room. Not sure how many rooms...5 toilets altogether. A surprising feature of the bathrooms is that they are remarkably clean considering. Never in my life did I think I'd go into a bathroom outside my home or friends' homes barefoot. But, no one is in shoes so it's just the way it is. Now, a truly public squatter in a tin hut with unidentified substances all around and a suffocating stench of human waste...no thanks...I'd like to enter those in a haz-mat suit, but those don't pack so well in a backpack. That's another thing about leaving this place...the relative comforts are nice compared to the inevitable 'un'comforts awaiting me on long bus rides and disgusting toilets.

Did I tell you this morning we helped pull a boat ashore. The sea was very rough and boats at the pier had to move out farther into open water while the smaller boats were rescued onto the beach. It was so bad that the ferry couldn't make it in and so people couldn't get back to the mainland. It was an interesting endeavor with about 30 people lined on the sides of the boat and log rollers underneath to facilitate the beaching. 'Heave-ho' in Cambodian sounds remarkably like English.

The rest of the day was spent eating noodle soup from a local woman which was so good. In fact, Brian and I had another bowl...and then they called us pigs. :) The locals are genuinely happy it seems...they smile and laugh a lot. The little children play continuously, pulling each other in half water containers and running naked on the beach wrestling. There is a lot of family time here it appears. They are basically camping all the time in huts.

Me, Brian, and our friend Dave decided to make the 'easy' 1 hour trek across a 'road' on the island to the other side. Mind the little quotes here. By road they mean a dirt track that is not marked until about halfway, you know, after you've already made about 4 different 'path' decisions that you figure will eventually dump you out on the other side...or just send you over a cliff as we discovered. Oops. Wrong trail apparently. And by 'easy' the locals mean (as they point in the general direction of the jungle behind them indicating where this so-called 'road' can be found) a 1 hr+ sweaty hike up and down terrain so steep that ropes are used. That's right, ropes. (as I was doing this hike, I thought of all my outdoorsy friends who would be impressed with my bouldering prowess while carrying a shoulder camera bag). Literally, every time we would descend one of these rocky passes, another one would crop up mere yards away. I'm not sure there are public hikes like this in the U.S.; sure you can go off trail and find something similar but there would be NO way anyone would point the general public on a route like this so nonchalantly. I think that they forget Westerners spend our lives in front of computers. Then, the trail became much more closed in so that as I walked, I managed to caress all the jungle plants with my bare legs. So far, no rashes. The reward on the other side was amazing. Just breathtaking and so quiet. Now there was solitude and paradise. If you like people, that would not be the place to go. I had been considering moving on to the more secluded and quiet island next to this one, but hell, this place is quiet enough!!!

We took the water taxi back and had wood-fired local pizza for dinner. So so good. But pizza was expensive! $6.50 for an entire one! Then I remember to say the hell with it and enjoy myself. I'm not going to run out of money so I might as well not worry about it!
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Matt on

Sounds physically taxing. How's the body holding up? Are your bionic knees and bum hip enjoying the trip so far? Are there any good/ odd libations to have while you recount the days activities with your travel buddies?

Matt on

Also, I read up on Tet. That totally sounds like something you should experience. All of Vitenam shuts down to celebrate the new year for three days. You can't even dig for water because they think the ground and water should get to enjoy Tet, too. You just happen to be there during this event!? The stars are aligned. You must see it, right!?

Linda on

Tet 2013 falls on Sunday, 10 February 2013. The Tet 2013 public holiday in Vietnam will be from Saturday, 9 February 2013 to Thursday, 14 February 2013. Vietnamese prepare for weeks before the Tet New Year by spring cleaning and painting their house to welcome the new year.
During the Tet New Year Eve, people will light up firecrackers and play gongs throughout the night. It is believed that loud noises will get rid of bad luck.
During the Tet 2013, there will be parades in the street with lion dances and dragon dances. After parades, people go home, families and friends will visit each others and have a feast of traditional Vietnamese dishes, such as Banh Chung (sticky rice dumpling), Hat Dua (roasted watermelon seed), Dua Hanh (pickled onion) and Mut (dried sweetened fruit). It might be kind of hard to find lodgings during such a big event. Maybe you can go after the new year has taken place. Of course it would be something to see. It is modeled after the Chinese New Year.

jware on

at Matt--body is holding up well. No major complaints.
At Mom and Matt---I would love to see Tet, but without friends or somewhere to stay, I think it would be a bad idea. I was warned heavily against attempting it because of the immense difficulty in getting buses/accommodation/etc.

Linda on

about TET That's what I figured with it being the biggest celebration of their year. I am loving the stories and the pictures. Some make me smile or laugh out loud, while others give me chills. One thing for sure is that it is an adventure.

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