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Friday, February 4, 2011

Keepin it Riel

My good friend Tammy met up with me on the island of Koh Chang in Thailand a few days ago. We began our journey to Cambodia yesterday morning. I decided to travel with her instead of ride my bike because we are going to be volunteering at the same school starting Monday and she is totally awesome and fun to travel with. So we caught a sang thaew which is basically a pickup truck that jam packs people like sardines into the back and you hold on for dear life as the driver speeds through the steepest hills I have ever been on. We caught the ferry back to the main land and hopped another sang thaew and headed to this town called Trat to catch yet another short bus to the Cambodian border.

The picture of me with the bike was taken in no mans land. It's basically the space between countries, it's not Thailand, it's not Cambodia. On the left is the Cambodian flag and the right Thailand. The border crossing was pretty sketchy, a bunch of tall Cambodian men came out to us and sat us down, took our passports and ran around with them only coming back to us to have us sign stuff we had no idea what it said. It was all in Khmer. They kept of trying to sell us bus tickets and taxi rides, they were totally relentless!! This was a bad first impression of Cambodia. I was really sketched out at this point. We finally hired these 2 guys in this old sketchy looking toyota to bring us into Koh Kong the town we would spend the night in. We got to town safely and found a cheap guesthouse and had dinner.

The first thing I noticed about Cambodia is that everyone is really young. The average age in Cambodia is 22. The Khmer Rouge killed so many people in the 70s that
it wiped out the majority of the adult population. I was sitting there and all of this was finally sinking in. I do not know what I felt, I am still processing everything.

First thing in the morning Tammy and I caught a bus to Sihanoukville, a bustling Ocean town. It is Chinese new years and this town is absolutely packed, all of the guesthouses are filled up but we finally found a place and it was expensive!!

The money situation is very bizarre also. The preferred method of currency in all of Cambodia is US dollars. If something costs say $1.50 you would pay them one dollar and the change
in Cambodian Riel, its about 4,000 riel to one US dollar. So I have all this different currency floating around in my pocket now.

We will spend one more night here and make our way to Kirivorn out in a very rural part of south eastern Cambodia and begin working with students in the Kirivorn school. Tammy and I will be the first volunteers ever to help at this school, so I am totally stoked to start working with some real people and getting the inside scoop as to how things work in this country.
I will keep you all posted!

Happy New Years!!!! Fireworks are going off all over the place tonight. It's
nice to be able to do new years all over again!

Here's a pic of me climbing on this big blow up thing in the water today. The guy right above me was screaming at me to go pay before I climb on his blow up thing. I pretended I didn't speak english till he finally looked like he would kick me in the head if I didn't get off. There were so many people in the ocean, it was a total zoo for the new years.

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