Poopy Waterfalls

Trip Start May 03, 2010
Trip End Oct 18, 2011

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Where I stayed
Mercara Guesthouse

Flag of Cambodia  ,
Saturday, June 5, 2010

Well, I was right about not needing to go to the beach in Cambodia.  Sihanoukville is a big party town, but I caught a stomach bug as soon as I got there, so I spent Friday night in my hotel room, feeling tired and crummy.  Saturday morning I took a moto ride out to a waterfall, which was flowing but poop brown in color.  Not the prettiest pictures I've ever taken.  My driver waded around the pools with me and we spent some time picking up trash, which Cambodia nationals leave all around the rocks and bushes.  As we were leaving, two girls took the trash bag from me and continued to pick up trash, so I was glad to see someone was doing that regularly.  It's still dumbfounding to me that people litter their own natural attractions, but I guess we do that in the US too.

On the way back we stopped at a temple and I spent a while chatting with some young monks.  These monks were more like temporary monks, studying Buddhism while attending university. They were in their early twenties and had about five years left, and they were living at the pagoda on the temple grounds.  Monks are not supposed to look at women with sexual interest so it was when they told me they thought I was pretty that I figured they were not dedicated for life.  They confirmed that they wanted families and were only spending this time as monks while going to university.  Apparently, all men were expected to do this thirty years ago, but now it's more of a choice.  They say it makes them better prospects as husbands because fathers like to hear that prospective husbands of their daughters spent time studying Buddhism.

I spent the rest of that afternoon on the beach, but the waves in Cambodia are big like in southern California, so you can't really swim, and it's dark blue so you can't really see, and the sand is lined with litter, so it's not very pretty.  Lame.  And as soon as I sat down, a group of young girls circled around me trying to sell me a bunch of shit I didn't need.  I kept saying no but then they just start doing what they're trying to get you to pay for anyway.  Well, they got me for $17 for three bracelets, a lobster, a pedicure and a threading.  I was pretty irritated with them and vowed never to let sales people bug me like that again.  I should have kicked them for being so annoying . . . just kidding . . . not really.

Saturday night I started feeling much worse with a neck ache and some diarrhea, so I took a moto to a clinic in town, fearing that I had caught Japanese encephalitis.  Japanese encephalitis is a serious virus carried by mosquitos for which the US vaccine cost $700.  I passed on that fine opportunity and tried to find it when I got to Thailand, only to discover that the vaccine for adults had been discontinued and replaced by a live vaccine approved only for children by the CDC.  So I still haven't gotten the vaccine, and the disease is rare but can cause serious central nervous system damage.  The symptoms include neckache, so I was scared.  The driver took me to one clinic where there was no doctor on staff, so they directed us to another clinic down the road, and after getting lost a couple times and asking another driver where it was, we finally found one that was run by a Chinese doctor.  He had photos of himself, standing over patients who had all suffered serious physical injuries, most likely from moto accidents.  One guy had a huge chunk of the skin on the side of his head hanging off, and the doctor was standing above him smiling in to the camera.  That's why I always hire a driver.  Anyway, he knew nothing about Japanese encephalitis but because of the diarrhea, he advised me to take the antibiotic that my travel clinic sent me over with, which I did.  I felt fine the next day.  But when we got back, I handed the moto driver $2 and he asked for $3.  I get no pity from this country.

Well, I figured I should try to make the best of my time there, so I took a boat tour on Sunday to the islands for snorkeling and swimming, but visibility was zero.  Besides that, we got caught in a torrential storm on the way out, so that me and four girls from England, Wales and Germany were all huddled in the middle of the boat holding beach mats over our heads because the tarp roof had been violently ripped off by the wind.  It was raining and the waters were rough, so that the boat would hit a wave and water would come flying over the side of the boat and smack us in the face.  This was just about the most unpleasant thing I've ever paid $15 to do.

The island they took us to was actually very pretty, and by the time we got there, the clouds had broken up and it was sunny again.  They grilled us baracuda fish for lunch and served it with bread and cabbage salad, which was actually delicious.  This kinda made up for the stormy ride
but we were still stuck with a most obnoxious Chinese guy who would not shut up.  This was one of those guys who manages to alienate everyone around him in two seconds flat.  Somehow he got a Cambodian woman to marry him, though I think her inability to understand English may have been the culprit.  If I were her, I'd have jumped off the side of the boat and swam back to shore just to get away from him.  He was really offensive and annoying and got on everyone's nerves.  I talked shit to him a little bit on the way back but I don't think it made much of a difference.  Needless to say, we were all glad for that tour to be over. 

Monday I took a moto ride out to Ream National Forest for a guided trek, which was supposed to be an hour and a half.  Well, it was more like a twenty minute trek, a forty minute moto ride
roundtrip to the trail head, plus another twenty minute ride to the beach, which was still ugly and useless.  I couldn't believe I had managed another expensive and unrewarding day!  I had booked an overnight bus for Monday night and was glad to get out of there.  What a waste. 

The photos on the advertisement for the ten hour overnight bus to Siem Reap showed spacious reclining seats with foot rests, covered in sheets, with pillows, and boasted two movie showings.  I figured it looked pretty comfortable.  But no, there were no sheets or pillows or foot rests.  Yet again they mixed up the seating so I had to get up out of my seat and move to a seat that had no blanket and was next to the aisle.  Then the movie player broke.  And the guy next to me was talking loudly in Khmer on his phone.  Such a nightmare!  I put my headphones on and finally fell asleep for about an hour until the bus driver pulled over and flipped on the lights for a bathroom break.  Just as I was cursing myself for this stupid idea, the guy sitting next to me got off the bus at Phnom Penh, so now I had a blanket and two seats to myself for the remaining six hours of the trip.  I stretched out and slept reasonably well, waking up about every two hours to switch positions.  Overnight bus - never again.

I arrived in Siem Reap at 6am to be greeted by Laos, the tuk-tuk driver with ABCs and Rice, the charity with which I had arranged to do some volunteer work helping teach English.  He drove me through Siem Reap and out to a nearby village, Veal Village, where the volunteer guesthouse was located.  But as I passed by bamboo huts, farm animals and naked babies, I had a feeling this was going to be a long three weeks...
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Jana on

Haha - the pictures of the sleezy monks is classic! They are all looking at you like you're pretty! So funny what their motivation for being monks is! Your stories are great, Kate! Glad you are still having a great adventure! :)

straykat6 on

Hahaha I know those monks were kinda sleezy but I put up with them because they were so excited to practice their English with me. They invited me to come back but I never made it. Oh well!

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