Page 5 of Me in the Monsoons Travel Blog Posts

Asia » Cambodia » South » Phnom Penh June 14th 2006

‘Mmmm. S’ray bai. K’nyom wee-ay. Soam. Soam.’ In the darkness, her wailing went by unnoticed by some, misunderstood by others. She made her way along the riverside promenade with her husband, begging for help, desperate for money. It is so easy to fall into the trap of pulling out 100 Riel and handing it over, more as a measure of clearing one’s own conscience, than in a bid to help. For if we thought about it for just a moment, one would come to realise that the USD0.025 we are handing over can do very little to help anyone. Perhaps a shake of the head and a frown would provide her with more dignity than the Monopoly money we off-handily thrust her way. The questions are endless; are you actually helping these beggars by giving them ... read more

Asia » Cambodia » South » Phnom Penh June 6th 2006

The boy you see in the picture is Toula, a young Khmer child who is lucky enough to attend the Happy School. On our previous visit to Phnom Penh, Eva, Leens and I had fallen in love with this little creature, so full of energy and cheek. He had been the only one of the kids who had dared come closer to us 'barangs'', and we had embraced him, literally. Of course, we thought, ''Oh, what a happy little boy in his dirty little clothes'', the typical Western, uneducated response. Now, on my return to the school, I have begun to understand a tiny bit better what some of these kids actually go through, and that their dirty little clothes are not dirty, but filthy, from wearing them in and out, day after day. I have ... read more
Apples awaiting their fate
Without a worry in the world

Asia » Cambodia » South » Phnom Penh May 31st 2006

From May through to the later part of the year, the monsoons hit the city of Phnom Penh in overwhelming force. In the thick of the rainy season, the afternoons are characterised with ongoing downpours. Apparently, the rains are easy to plan around, though, as the residents of the metropolis know when they are about to hit, and so they confine themselves in-doors during this time. Perhaps the journalist had confused his experience of the monsoons with another country, I thought, as I held onto the back of the moto belonging to the young Khmer driver, who had been kind enough to give me a lift home after our one-hour chat at Del Gusto Café, both of us unable to go anywhere due to the pelting rain. The fact that the water stood a good metre ... read more

Asia » Cambodia » South » Phnom Penh May 26th 2006

This afternoon, I finally managed to get down to Psar Tol Tom Poung, also known more affectionately as the Russian Market. Although Nika instantly accused it of being ‘maket for tourist’, it does stock some lovely goodies which only us Westerners seem to like - crockery without beautifully kitsch puppy dogs and floral patterns favoured by the Khmer. And, yes, I was happy to pay a premium for these. Although not cheap, my little kitchen now boasts four handleless matt-green cups, a matching teapot and two dinner plates, as well as two big bowls, though these do not match as the stallowner could dig up only one of the green bowls, after a thorough search. Oh well, I thought, a quirky, unmatching crockery setting has its advantages too… Prior to my market visit, I had spent ... read more

Asia » Cambodia » South » Phnom Penh May 20th 2006

On my way around the city the other day, I stumbled across one of the 'big' supermarkets in Phnom Penh, and although I knew it would be extremely overpriced, I decided that I desperately wanted to check it out anyway. Plus, the supermarket boasted some peace and quiet from the busy streets of the city. Door open, enter Maria. I grabbed a shopping basket (I did consider taking a trolley), and began slowly scanning the aisles for anything familiar. As I had epected, everything was entirely overpriced, close to double the market price, but I thought, 'Hey, what the hell. I need some retail therapy!'. In went some Asian two-minute noodles, which I can easily heat up on the little gas cooker I had bought for USD10. The next aisle had dried fruits and funny looking ... read more

Asia » Cambodia » South » Phnom Penh May 20th 2006

... AU$100...a new pair of shoes...about 30 skinny parking in Melbourne city for 50hrs... Keep listing them, though I cannot imagine you will believe me that in Phnom Penh, US$70 buys you one months rent. Yes, folks, for only US$70, you can live in a one room apartment in the centre of the capital city of the Kingdom of Cambodia. At least that is what my US$70 bought me today. Nika, the Happy School Coordinator/eccentric Khmer lady, picked me up at the guesthouse at 11am for lunch. At around 10 past 1, I was starting to wonder where she had gotten to, as I didn't think her one to be late without notice. Sure enough, a text message drew my attention from Chandler's History of Cambodia, which I am attempting to digest for a second ... read more

Asia » Cambodia » South » Phnom Penh May 19th 2006

'Helloo. Boding pass, passpot, ticket, please.' (I smile and hand over the docs.) 'Ohh, you travel alone?' 'Alone? Yes, yes, I am travelling by myself.' 'Ok, you married?' 'Am I married? No.' 'So, you single?' (The transit officer at HCMC airport asks this question with a big smile on his face) 'Yes, I am single' (I am also smiling now, realising that he is probably weighing up whether I would make a good wife or not. I would tip on the latter, personally.) Before I even got to Phnom Penh, I already had a smile from ear to ear. Things had not changed; there were still too many staff doing seemingly very little, they still had big smiles on their youthful faces, and they were still as cheeky as ever. My Vietnam Air flight had gone ... read more

Oceania » Australia » Victoria » Melbourne April 3rd 2006

Since my return from our amazing journey, one thing I have become exceedingly good at is dreaming. I visited my mother shortly after arriving back in Melbourne, as I was really missing her company, and on the 14-hour drive up to Armidale, I had so much thinking space, that I managed to dream up an entire array of crazy but wonderful ideas. The reason I decided to write just one more blog, as you are probably questioning its appearance in your inbox, is that so many of my friends and family, some with whom I have had little contact since school, have gone out of their way to find out what is happening now that I am back. So, I thought it only suitable to 'keep writing!' in order to update you all. Firstly, I would ... read more

Asia » Vietnam » Red River Delta » Hanoi March 15th 2006

Though I have really lacked inspiration to blog in the last few days, I received a comment from a random person this morning, saying that she thought my blog was brilliant and she is staying up to date with our adventures. I had started to feel like I was really not able to give anything by writing this blog, but with such a nice comment from a complete stranger, I have a smile back on my face. :) With that said, our time is approaching a very rapid end. Tomorrow morning, we board the plane back to Aus, back to family, back to friends, and back to thinking so much about what we have been lucky enough to experience over in this part of the world. Yesterday, I was feeling quite ready to go home, and ... read more

Asia » Vietnam » Red River Delta » Hanoi March 12th 2006

After an interesting bus ride from Hai Phong to Hanoi this afternoon, where we started off with two seats each and ended up with one seat for ourselves and our backpacks - on our laps for a good hour - we have arrived in what I would have to describe as one of the most beautiful quarters in a city I have ever seen. The streets of Hanoi's Old Quarter are full of bustle and action, with street vendors selling baskets full of fresh aromatic bread, old Vietnamese women carrying loads of soup ingredients ready for any customers wanting Pho Bo for breakfast, beautiful Colonial buildings which have been entirely neglected by years of wear and poverty... The energy is, well, energetic. The streets are one-laned, though motos, cars, pedestrians and dogs all make their way ... read more

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