Fear Factor Finalist

Trip Start Jul 20, 2006
Trip End May 10, 2007

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Flag of Cambodia  ,
Saturday, April 7, 2007

I've surfaced into  civilization, if that is what you can call Phnom Penh.

The past two weeks have taken me on a tour of Disneyland like adventure movies, from Indiana Jones to the Swiss Family Robinson and I am now pretty sure I would be a tough contender to beat on Fear Factor or a strong additional castmate to the Lost series on television.

I strategically placed myself in the coastal town of Sihanouk Ville for 13 days, not doing much else than enjoying the beautiful beaches and the good company. While Monica left for Vietnam after 7 days, I stayed behind with our two new friends Joost, from Amsterdam and Sebastien from Quebec. Joost reminds me a lot of my brother Gary - slightly pessimistic with a crass sense of  humor, and creative with good looks to boot. Sebastien was lost at sea for years working on a ship and is a firm believer that Quebec should be a seperate entity from Canada. With my two boys in tow we headed east to Otres beach, where we had a beach more or less to ourselves void the fruit vendors and armless beggars of its neighbors Serendipity and Occhuetal Beaches.

After sunning ourselves silly (I have a great tan) we opted for the teeming Cambodian jungle, needing a break from the daily routine of wake up, go to the beach to sleep, party until 4 a.m. So, off we were in an 80's Toyota Camary (I think this is the only car the Cambodians actually have, it is as if Cambodia is the heaven for all the old, used, sometimes working, Toyota Camary's of the world) to Kampot.

Renting bikes and riding into the surrounding villages was a treat until we went to have massages by the blind after an afternoon of playing pool and beers. The next day we were up at the crack for a more than memorable ride into the jungle in the back of a pick up truck. For 2 hours,  we climbed Bokor Hill, bouncing up and down as if we were on a pogo stick, dodging tree branches and enjoying the sites of this unpaved, narrow, jungle covered road.

At the top we visited Bokor Hill Station with its buildings covered in a remarkable rust orange moss which creates a more perfect set for the movie The Shining. Spooky, to say the least, as you walk through what was once the last Khmer stronghold in the early 80's after being overthrown by the Vietnamese in 1979. This eery, ghostlike feeling shoots chills up your spine as the wind howls through the buildings and grey clouds roll in. Standing on a ledge, our guide tells us that during the Pol Pot regime (1975-1979) people were brought up here, to where  we were standing, blindfolded, and thrown off the ledge into the jungle below.  Isn't that a nice thought, and as we turn around he warns us to be on the lookout for snakes, bears, and tigers.

While we sighted no snakes that day, it was not until the next afternoon when Sebastien and I  took off for a charted island which should be uncharted and was most likely only inhabitated about 1 month ago, or so it seems. No running water, no electricity, no anything to be honest other than a simple sugar palm leaf bungalow and a hole in the ground as a bathroom. Koh Tonsai island is about 30 minutes off the coast of Kep by wooden boat that brings new meaning to the tongue twister "toy boat, toy boat, toy boat." After arrival, my first mission  was to the toilet: across from the pig pen and surrounded by chickens pecking at the air. Once inside, I hear some shuffeling noises in the thatch wall and much to my dismay a green snake appears - pants down and all, I run out of the bathroom screaming.

I can safely say that this both "nature and animal friendly" island hosted more cows, pigs, chickens, geckos and other unidentifiable animals and insects than I'd prefer to have experienced in such close quarters. I would say there were about 20 people on the island, at best and I slept with a mosquito net and ants in my bed.

After not showering for 4 days, I was thankful to arrive at my ghetto guesthouse in the backpackers ghetto of the capital city, which I vowed to never stay in,  but Joost got here first and I was meeting up with him and his friend Lila from home. All excited for a sit down toilet and shower, I check into my room, throw my  bags down and go into the bathroom to learn that I have to squat to use the toilet and stand on the squatter in order to use the shower, whose head is conveniently in the bucket of water used to flush the toilet. Nice I thought as I cleaned off the Swiss Family Robinson feel before putting on a skirt and mascara for a night out on the town at a posh all white night club.

 The Prada Hippie's travels continue.
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