5:17 Saturday July 24, 2004
I left San Monorom this morning at 7:00 am and for 5 dollars took a truck to Snoul, we arrived just as the bus was getting ready to leave, I boarded and for 3.50 dollars I went to Phnom Penh arriving here around 2:00 pm. So the trip was easy and no pain.
I purchased a ticket from Phnom Penh to Saigon for 4 dollars and I will leave tomorrow at 7:00 am.
I am ready to leave Cambodia and not sure what to do with Cambodia the mountains of Thailand close to Burma are probably more interesting, so hard to say what to say?
SEN MONOROM TO PHNOM PENH CAMBODIA
Saturday July 24, 2004 6:00
I am finishing my packing and ready to leave for Phnom Penh by way of Snoul, or at least I hope I make it all the way to Phnom Penh and do not have to stay in Snoul for the night.
The last couple of days have been fun and strange, the small village of Sen Monorom is some form of retreat or maybe a station along the border. Kink Sihanouk has an old house here or at least the guidebook says he had house here, but I was not sure which house it was although I am sure I passed it. There is a lake at the bottom of the far hill from my Hotel, so for sure this is a village built around a lake, but it is not obvious as no one seems to think about the lake. But it is a village built on a lake and a couple of rivers.
There is suppose to be Elephant trekking here, but I did not push this Issue because I did not see any elephants and I guess I would want to ride and elephant in a place where they use elephants as a beast of burden and not just for tourist. I have not found this in Asia so far, it may be in India.
Why come to Sen Monorom? I suppose if I had a date this would be like a trekkers paradise. Because there is not a dense jungle a person that wants to say they trekked through Cambodia can say they trekked through Cambodia and avoid the jungle. I am not clear, but it seems like we are going above the tree line of the mountains, but I think we are not high enough for this, and it really is just some strange mountains that will not grow trees good and the read clay pebble like soil only seems to get a covering of scrubby vine grass and my taxi driver says in the dry season it red and not green. It seems to be a desert mountain with a cover of grass that only turns green when it rains.
The guesthouse here are cheap, 3 dollars for one person and 5 for two, I am staying in the Bou Sra Guesthouse. Recommended by the taxi in return for his commission, but very close the market. Lots of guesthouse here are like resorts and way to far from the city, I would not even consider getting a guesthouse where there is not lots of houses because you would spend all your time walking or paying for a motorcycle. I found the market here special but almost hidden, it took me to the second day to realize that behind the first level of market is more market and even a restaurant area or food court like area. I would say this is one of the best places to for breakfast in Cambodia if you want to sit and have coffee, and strange food for breakfast.
There are two television bars or restaurants I have found in Sen Monorom that caters to men they watch sports of boxing. Boxing I think is very popular in Cambodia and you often see groups of motorcycles and chairs grouped around a TV as they all are cheering for the winner. These are like sports bars with out much beer.
It is not normal that they don’t watch Football constantly and instead watch boxing. Normal for the world is Football or Soccer.
There is a small pickup truck that the lady in the guesthouse says goes to Phnom Penh. It is suppose to cost 10 dollars, but this is to ride about 7 hours in the back of a pickup, this is not good. There is a bus that passes through Snoul and meets the truck, but I think the owner of the Hotel is selling us a bad deal or trying. I will not pay until I am happy.
King Sihanouk has a house here and a house near the large port, if he was coordinating the arms and food for the Vietnam army this would be the perfect places to have homes so he could make sure that he collected his money. This area was probably full of Vietnam soldiers during the war. The lady that runs the guesthouse listed Russian as one of the languages she does not speak well. I am sure she cannot speak English and French very well, and I do not think she speaks Russian well, it is almost impossible to understand her English although she is delusional she speak English.
This whole area is part of the Ho Chi Minh Trail.
I would guess they brought large supplies from Sihanouk or China to Kratie or Krachen where there is the Mekong river and then by land took them to Snoul.
It was pointed out to me by the Japanese man in Phnom Penh that the South Vietnamese were working both sides of the fence and he said they would sell American supplies directly to the North Vietnam army, so in reality we was fighting the South and the North Vietnam people and Cambodia also, as all were making a profit.
SEN MONOROM OR SENMONOROM
4:15 am Friday July 23, 2004
I need to check the date, I hope it is really Friday, as I am not sure of the day. I do not realize that my Vietnam Visa is really out of whack and I am already 5 days into the Visa, it is going to be a quick trip into Vietnam.
Sen Monorom, Cambodia
Modern little village, but no internet, so I will be posting this later.
This place is only understood with a map in your hand as I suppose are most places. I have tried to leave Phnom Penh behind and I could make a joke and say I have went "Up Country," as a lot of Vietnam Lingo enters my mind, but really I have no idea why I say this, it must be from a movie.
There is some religious music or stereo blaring in my window, I am tempted to go and walk around and see who wants to wake up the whole area. I think it is Buddhist, but it could be Moslems, I have not seen any Moslems, but there was some noise last night that sounded like them doing their night prayer. Life was probably a lot more peaceful before the invention of the loud speaker system. This is all broadcast with the use of electronics and speakers. If they did not have this it would be quiet.
Damn, now the dogs have got into a huge fight, there must be six dogs outside in a vicious fight, but I cannot hear the prayers now.
I am sitting here studying the map of Cambodia and Vietnam and trying to figure out why I am here. It is early morning, but most people go to sleep sort of early here, they do have Cable Television and I think I could watch HBO, I am not sure, I will check tomorrow. I am positive you can watch Sta Movie Channel. The place is a mixture of real modern and real primitive. It is not primitive in my mind except you get the idea of primitive because the road is a red clay gravel or dirt and there is a grubby nature to the city, but it is really very clean in comparison to Snoul, but Snoul is a midway point or a central city of transport and what I think is a wholesale market city. Most markets are dirty as everyone discards all their trash as they open and close boxes and load and unload trucks.
WHAT IS UNUSUAL ABOUT SEN MONOROM?
2 BAGUETTE CITY
I saw two baguettes in Snoul, there were two small ones and I ate one of them.
I HAVE A MIRROR BUT NO ELECTRICITY
Snoul, Cambodia Thursday July 22, 2004
6:09 am Morning.
Strange or just normal I have a mirror in the Hotel Mittapheap in Snoul, Cambodia. In the Number 9 Hotel in Phnom Penh I had electricity when I was in the room, but no electricity when I left the room, as they had a switch on the outside of the door they would immediately shut off, hard to charge a battery. The room in Snoul is better though because it is for Cambodia people and they have made it a complete room. It has a good Mosquito net with no hole and a mirror, squat toilet. The bed is worst, but the price is one dollars less, so I suppose all in all the room in Snoul is better than the room in Phnom Penh, a guidebook writer would say not, because you have to live with friendly Cambodia people. But they give me a Mirror and a mosquito net, no shorting on services because they know we won’t complain.
TRIP FROM PHON PENH TO SNOUL
We left Phnom Penh in a van that was packed with 13 people and had a 2-3 foot high pile of bags and furniture on the top. We left at 7 in the morning and I arrived in Snoul as planned at around 11:30. This included the dinner commission stop along the way.
All of the travelers except a man from Polond were going pretty much straight for Laos and not seeing any of Cambodia. They would stop in Kratie to see the dolphins, but the Polish guy was going to Ratikiri Province.
As we left Phnom Penh the land is extremely flat and large scale rice farming is as far as the eye can see, and I did not see any subsistence farming, but I am sure that some of the locals are only working on these large farms and are barely making any money, so they could just be existing, but the farm or plantations are thriving..
Along the road which was very wide and mostly asphalt although the way I saw.
1. New type of saw tooth type homes.
2. A new type of bush that has a food I do not know.
3. Lots of corn, and this causes a mess in the cities as they husk the corn and leave them in the street that looks like trashy paper, but is really just corn husk.
4. Chilis or small pepper were grown and laid out along the road side to dry.
5. Brick Factories were absolutely everywhere along the roads as all of the soil is clay and they can easily make bricks, although most house are made of wood.
6. Extremely large rubber plantations.
I am wondering if they make or use the older sets of rubber trees for wood, they was using along the road large industrial cranes, trucks, and equipment to cut and remove the older fields of rubber trees to clear the way for new ones or something else. The trees seem become very gnarled and twisted as they get aged.
7. The rented generators and equipment. The signs were in English and Khmer.
I would say that this has lots of money in the hands of someone but I am not sure it is the normal people.
8. I saw another large factory and there was what looked like an extremely large rice production plant along the road. I have noticed that in India and in Cambodia they sort of hide the factories out in the country. The would really make the interpretation of life different for an economist looking for an industrial park.
Snoul has a Doctor and two or three pharmacies. It also has a place that says it is a women rights center complete with email, but looks empty and there is no email in Snoul, there are cell telephone everywhere. I took a photo of the womans rights place and will be in the newsletter.
I am in a Hotel that is next to the Cambodia People Party office or one political office, I am keep getting the feeling this Hotel is full of officers that keep women or have women as there are groups of women around and this is not normal in a Hotel. Most women are only with a man or husband in a Hotel, they are not alone, but they are alone I a way in Snoul. Lots of young type boys or men in hacked up uniforms, and sloppy.
SEN MONOROM TODAY
I will just leave the hotel and go by whatever truck or method happens the fasted. It is about 6:43 and I will probably leave around 7:30 to go chase down a hot cup of coffee, the cold cup I made is not the best. I have no electricity. I guess they have electricity from 6 PM til the early morning, but if you can see the sun they do not have electricity.
I was planning to leave this morning at 7:00 for Snoul, Cambodia, but last night when we were suppose to pick up our Passports with the Vietnam Visa inside at 6:00 they were not ready and we had to pick up after 7:00. I do not like when thing are not clear or simple and consider this a good way to have problems.
It was sort of funny and my Japanese friends instantly said,“Oh, the path is not clear.”
They had earlier asked me,
“Why have you not visited Japan.”
“I am not sure, but to me I do not know a clear path to enter Japan, it appear complicated and very expensive, there is no way to just enter Japan without maybe spending way too much money for the value.”
We discussed the idea of a clear path for awhile, so when I did not go to Snoul this morning they understand to me the path was not clear.
I have thanked them for making the path to Japan clear to me, they told me that Japan is still cheaper than France and England, and they told me in the Lonely Planet Japan there are list of house like places where I should be able to rent a room for a month for 10 dollars a night, plus they have given me their emails and I trust them. I do not trust all travelers I meet to be responsible people and in reality the traveler is on the low list of responsible people. But this couple is on my high list of people or responsible nature and have shown me the path to Japan.
Today I will get on the path to Snoul again.
I have received a few letter from my mother, she seems concerned and worried about me going to Vietnam, and I am for sure getting the feeling that she does not want me to go to Vietnam.
My older brother could have been drafted and gone to Vietnam, I know people that died in Vietnam, my mother know better than me because I was just an 18 year old kid when the war ended.
So I suppose, her thoughts are always have been and will always be,
“I don’t want my boy to go to Vietnam.”
30 years later and it is still the emotion and the same thought, I am not sure what my mother is thinking, but I have learned that one I feel something and think something it does not go away, it is possible for me to feel the same place and time again. I can think of past relationships and feel the pain or the happiness, hard to say I have resolved the issues, just more that I have placed them on a lower intensity burner of the stove.
“My mother does not want me to go to Vietnam.”
That is my feeling, my mother respect me too much to give me an order, so it is just a thought, and being that my father is the same person as my mother and they are really one person made up of two people I would assume he agrees with her.
Vietnam has changed and I personally do not have much curiosity about the Vietnam people or the war, it to me is just another country, and the war was a slaughter by the U.S. Army. We killed some 4-5 Million people in Vietnam fighting a legitimate war and lost 58,000 U.S. men. Stack it up any way you wish, there is was huge victory for the USA as it performed the goal of keeping China and Russia from making all of Asia into communist countries. So with a Victory I can go and visit as a tourist, as much as I can now go visit Russia and China. North Korea and Iran are still difficult.
Oren says it is a Tarantula, but I really do not like spider big or small.
3 small girls adopted me and Oren in the main market here in Phnom Penh, and proceed to follow us around putting this huge spider on our bodies. It brought me to a complete standstill while Oren seem to like to play with it. The girls followed us for about 30 minute and finally when we left the market the play time stopped, the whole market was enjoying them joking and having fun, it is surprisingly to me that the Cambodian people seem 2 levels more fun and personal than the Thai people, I feel a better connection.
These are difficult experiences to explain, but these are the good parts of human nature.
A log of what I am thinking about, and because it about travel I am suppose to talk about travel.
I suppose that makes sense, but what happens when you are in a place that has nothing to do with travel, but is full of travelers that are making sure they do not hang around with the people of the country?
The Capitol Guesthouse is one of the worst guesthouses in the world in one of the most hostile feeling locations in the world surrounded by Cambodia Culture and the Number 9 guesthouse is a guesthouse where smoking pot and playing pool, watching movies and listening to music is easy and there is no Cambodia Culture.
I am thinking that I need to take a taxi during the day to the other end and see the country.
Cambodia, what to do with this country? I am still lost and without a path to understand the country, the paths are defined so that we must stay on the path, and there is not clear way to go see Cambodia, and sadly what they sell is how there leader Pol Pot committed Genocide and how there people can be outrageously cruel.
I have never been in a country where they sold themselves short so well and the guidebook is so completely worthless. I am sure there are things outside the Hotel / Hostel Resort that are real, but how do you get there? All the paths, buses, and mentalities lead nowhere but towards Vietnam, or back to Thailand. No road leads to the culture, there is nothing being sold about the culture but Genocide and Cruel people killing people or poverty, this by my inspection is a pretty wealthy country.
“They have washing machines, air compressors, and car washes, every home has two bikes and one motorcycle. South America is extreme poverty compared to here.”
But what they are selling is poverty and a cruel world.
“I am not buying.”
There has got to be something of interest beside looking at their dirty laundry and the skeletons in the closet, there has to be something about Cambodia that is interesting or has there culture been sold?
The people are happy and they joke around, they smile quick and this is a lot quicker than Thailand, the people are friendly, but they are giving me nothing fun to go look at, so I must go find it. The Lonely Planet Guidebook is worthless and should not be used as a reference for this country as they have written the country off as not being worth visiting, so they give you no desire to stay.
I will leave for Vietnam on Tuesday maybe and then get almost instantly in Vietnam a Visa to return to Cambodia. I am thinking about going and chasing down these Montagnards. That means Mountain Dweller in English. This is a Frenchie word and the Cambodia people do not seem to understand the word, so we have a label for people that do not know they are labeled.
I watched half of the movie the other night in the Happy Hotel.I do not suffer fools wells so I had to leave, I have a life.
Michael Moore needs to come to Cambodia and find out how lucky he is for living in the USA, in Cambodia he would already be dead. One way or the other I predict that Michael Moore will be killed in the next 3 years, and he can be the next Che Guerrera and all the travelers can walk around with his fat face on their shirts.
Michael Moore.I am really amazed that a Fat American can be the European Hero, it just proves they have lost the plot. Lead on Fat White Man from America, you are the messiah of the masses leading us from ignorance, and living proof that the Genetic pool has stopped working.
Bottom line is the movie is one of the worst movies I have ever half seen, way below par for any intelligent person.
Killing Fields Skull from Mass Grave of Pol Pot
What a name for a Hotel, but it is the address of the Hotel so probably makes it easy to find. It is always possible there is another Hotel that is really called the Cloud 9, but I am not sure where and how to find it, but oh well, it appears that most of the Hotels on this strip of Hotels on the Lake Boeng Kak are ok.
ASK FOR LAKESIDE
If you come to Phnom Penh and you want a backpacker Hostel type accommodation ask for “Lakeside.” Do not go to the Capitol Hotel.
KILLING FIELDS TODAY
At 9:00 Oren, two Japanese, and me will rent a tuk tuk or small motorcycle with a 4 passenger seat on the back and make the tour of the city. I suppose it is going to cost each of us 2 dollars for the day.
Pol Pot a dictator in Cambodia killed some million people so there are mass graves in Cambodia. There is a movie called the “Killing Fields” that we also watched last night.
There are lots of statements and insinuations on why Pol Pot killed al the people and the movie depicts that the USA should not have bomb or invaded Cambodia.
But in the end, Oren said last night,“Look there is a whole room full of travelers listening to music and watching the movie the Killing Fields 20 years later.”There is according to my Encyclopedia supposed to be racial problems between the Cambodians and the Vietnamese people, it is not possible for me to see this, and the Vietnamese people look pretty much the same at the Cambodian people to me, so I would not be able to tell them apart, I did have a Cambodian say to me he did not like the Vietnamese people because they come in and do the prostitution in the country.
I really do not think there is any large racial problems between the countries, but that is just my gut feeling.
I am back in Phnom Penh.
LAKESIDE OR BOENG KAK IS THE ONLY PLACE TO BE
For sure this is the only area to be, and more or less the Khao San Road of Phnom Penh. Best place to relax and better than the wholesale area of the Capitol Guesthouse.
The Cloud Nine is now just the Number Nine Hotel.
All is good.