March 13, 2015

Pigeons, an Island Paradise, and Eggs on a Bike

Tonight I bunk with some young Japanese travelers, and having seen Cambodians and Vietnamese before them, the differences become more obvious. I'd probably still confuse one out of every two, even in a multiple-choice, but Cambodians are definitely different than Vietnamese, and the Japanese I'm looking at now are different yet again.

What's more, the language throws me off in a really weird way. They're jabbering away in Japanese, and I'm used to Vietnamese and (to a degree) Cambodian. Japanese, weirdly enough, actually sounds sort of normal. Almost English. I really don't get it, but the contrast doubtless has something to do with the perspective I have now. I can't adequately explain it, but, being the writer, I can start a new paragraph and talk about something else entirely and you can do nothing about it.

You thought I avoided tuk tuk drivers this morning? YOU WERE WRONG.
So this morning, I went out to the river bank to take photos of the sunrise and the pigeons. Again. I got a lot more photos this time, because I'd had the night to charge up two of my three batteries. A number of the photos from this morning should be included in this post. I felt a little bad when I was scaring a hundred pigeons away from the food strewn on the ground for them just then.

I've mentioned that I wanted to go to a beach and just sit around for a while in a couple posts, and I posted to reddit just this afternoon to see if I could get any ideas for places to go.

Someone responded rather quickly, referencing a place he'd visited about five years ago in Vietnam. It's an island actually closer to Cambodia than Vietnam, but part of Vietnam. Anyway, he'd visited a place there near the beach where the prices ranged from $12 to $18 per night, and were adjacent the beach. I asked for further information, and he produced a fairly exact location. My plan is to go there and hopefully find the place I'm looking for. I should find backup plans, but I really hope I can find this place.

 The bus on the way over here was terrifying. I'm not kidding; the buses I've taken before have been on better roads...and occasionally in the morning. The roads we ended up taking between Phnom Penh and Siem Reap were bumpy, dusty, and dark. Thus, visibility is terrible without brights, and with brights, you're a hazard to all other drivers. The more light you're shedding on the night, the less they can see where they're going.

So take typical Southeast Asian driving (which usually just means driving anything and everything like it's a motorcycle), put it in the dark, on a bumpy road, with bikes, motorcycles, tuk tuks, trucks, buses, and construction. Do you get the picture now? I might not have been in as much danger as I thought, but it was scary sometimes. And it turns out you can get between Phnom Penh and Siem Reap by boat. Boats go on water, which doesn't have bumps. Ok, it has bumps, but a giant barge warding off waves is far more stable than a bus going over the highways I just went over. I think I'll probably book a boat on my way south, for variety's sake, if nothing else.

I called home just outside the hostel. It worked fairly well, on both mobile data and on Wi-Fi. We talked a bit about what I'd been up to, and what was going on, and then I took a tuk tuk to the bus station. I'd sort of been unwilling to take tuk tuks since a day or two ago, when I'd been charged $5 for a ride of less than two kilometers. I tried to bargain him down to $4, and it was probably worth $2 or $3, but I ended up paying $5. Thus, I was sort of sour and just walked around for a day or two.

My hostel for the night was an absurdly cheap $2 per night. I decided to take three nights, and so far, I don't have reason to regret it. The bed is soft, there's soap and toilet paper, and Angkor Wat is a (slightly long) walk away from the hostel. I kind of need to finish this blog post if I want to get there early tomorrow morning...anyway.

The Japanese people bunking with me tonight are actually fairly good with English, and I explained to them where I've been so far in Vietnam and Cambodia, and I think they actually knew the name of my home state. I guess I think this because I've heard one Asian race or another to be especially fond of Laura Ingalls Wilder, but that might be the Koreans.

They seemed very interested in where I'd been, and when I mentioned the places I'd loved, they seemed enamored for my joy. It's kind of a wonderful thing, sharing joy.

Being that my birthday didn't actually happen until morning on the 13th (time zones, yo), I decided to buy a smoothie thing on the street, mixing pineapple and banana yet again. I think she went a little light on the pineapple, but it was still delicious, and it was priced very well (maybe 20 oz for a dollar). I walked back to the hostel, and had enough left over to drink with my breakfast.

It's not uncommon in Vietnam and Cambodia to see motorcycle taxi drivers laying on their motorcycles. I guess this guy is getting some early-life practice.

This is a mobile mobile shop. That is, you can buy mobile phones, and it's capable of moving.

If it doesn't fit on a motorcycle, you can tow it with a motorcycle. If you can't tow it with a motorcycle, put it on a trailer and tow that. If you can't tow it with a motorcycle, I guess you'd better put it in a truck, stacked two stories high with a couple pals on top.

One thing I once saw on a motorcycle in Vietnam was a large quantity of eggs. They were in the 2 1/2 dozen egg cardboard carriers, but there were probably a dozen of them lashed together on the back of a motorcycle. Will they crack if he goes over a pothole deep enough?

I also saw a motorcycle with a cage full of chicks, and I wouldn't be surprised if Vietnamese frequently put cages of full-grown chickens on their motorcycles, too. The circle of life.

Anyway, I really do want to get up early tomorrow, catch the sunrise over Angkor Wat, and have some breakfast. Did I mention my $2 accommodation comes with free breakfast?

Livin' the dream, baby.



Gabriel Bertilson said...

Japanese, like English, isn't a language with lots of single-syllable words with unique tones.

Noah Bertilson said...

That actually makes a ton of sense. Thanks! :D