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Brilliant Xmas

Sihanoukville - Beach at xmas

sunny

Hello.
Merry Christmas :) haha. On friday morning we left for Sihanoukville, about 4 hours away from Phnom Pehn. We got there and immediately headed for the beach for lunch. The menu had a few happy pages where you could buy 'mushrooms' and 'joints' but we decided to stick to something a bit less dodgy and went for some noodles. We were immediately approached by loads of people, people who were giving fliers for the xmas eve partys in the evening, children who want food, or to collect bottles or sell you stuff and beggars- most with no arms or legs dragging themselves across the sand because they have no legs for landmines and the government refuses to give them any money or wheelchairs. The children come over all the time to sell stuff but your never meant to give them anything because it just encourages the people who look after them to send them out onto the beaches, also they never see any of the money. Some of them collect plastic too, to sell back to restaurants and bars for hardly anything, our coordinator said that often they get 2 dollars per 20 kilos of bottles they collect. We got changed in the hotel (we stayed at a place called White Beach hotel) then came back down to the beach. We sunbathed for a bit then went into the water, its so warm! We paid a dollar to go onto the slides in the sea, and on the trampolines too. Jasmine and I went on the trampoline, and because it wasnt very good quality it moved with the waves and everytime it did we fell over. We also ordered some Jetskis. All three of us went on together first but it was much too hard to drive and I tipped it over 3 times in about 10 minutes, so James had his own instead and we raced him up and down the coast. It was really good fun, except I returned to the hotel with a very red face from the sun. In the evening we went to ''Monkey republic'' which was a backpacker resort and restaurant, they were playing all the xmas classics and everyone was drunk and singing, it was a really good atmosphere and the perfect place to start the night. We got given a flier to go into JJ's bar to get a free mixer and shot each. However the bar man- 'Koala' and his friend who looked like an Irish version of 'Shaggy' from scooby doo took a shine to the three of us so gave us 4 free shots and a free drink each. I hated the shots so the second one I had I spat out, unfortunately James put his foot in the way and went mad when he realized ahaha. We walked along the beach but there wasnt much going on so we headed back into town to go to Utopia, a back packer club. We sat down and ordered drinks and literally didnt move all night. These two Russian men came over to us and were asking us about our football knowledge, we were pretty drunk and managed to convince them that Chelsea wasn't a real team and Acrington Stanley was top of the premier league. There names were Sergio and Harris, we introduced our selves as Ron, Harry and Hermione. I was Hermione, James was Harry and Jasmine was ron. Hahaha. Then we told them about my niece Voldemort and we were in stitches. We all rang home at 12 to say merry Christmas, everyone at home had got back from our traditional Indian Christmas eve dinner so I got to say hello to everyone. For the rest of the night we were constantly annoyed by a racist estonian who kept telling us english are lazy.... So we left and we got home about 2am. Christmas was nice too. We went to the beach by 12am so it was boiling, we had bought Jasmine a little present so it was nice to give it to her, James and I decided not to do presents but it was so hot it felt nothing like xmas so i wasn't fazed. For the rest of the day we stayed on the beach, we went on this huge trampoline in the sea (on the other side of the beach from yesterday) and James got bullied and pushed off by a little Cambodian boy who after James had left then persisted in throwing both Jasmine and I off too. We went on a banana boat and were scammed, we paid 10 dollars for a ''round trip'' which consisted of us being on there less than a minute... we weren't very happy. I skyped my family, they were all just waking up and in their dressing gowns because of the time difference. We then went to the Coolabah Resort for xmas dinner. They gave us - turkey, (and ham if you wanted it) carrots, potatos, pumpkin, green beans etc and it was really nice, didnt quite compare with the one I have back home though. We went to the Dolphin Shack in the evening. We had been hoping to go to a full moon party on the beach but when we went to look for the place- Shevvy Shack (or something like that) it had been closed down because of gunfights. The Dolphin Shack was okay though, it was on the beach and we sat having cocktails on the sand. James' drink was spiked though so he wasnt well and went home, he had only had one or two and he was really ill even the day after, and he told Jasmine and I to finish his drink so we had a sip and it didnt taste at all like Vodka and Coke, more like some thick brown juice. When James left there were gunshots on the beach and most people started to leave so we followed. The beach was nice at night though, children go around selling fireworks (theres no think 21 like back home haha) and you can just set them off wherever you want on the beach, a load of them backfires though so we didnt try. If you look up the shore at night the fireworks are coming from everywhere, it looks lovely. On boxing day we had a relatively laid back day, just sunbathing and enjoying the sun, I got burnt because the sun was so hot. We left Sihnoukville after a bbq on the beach on the 27th of December and got the Paramount Nihgt Bus home. We all had reclining seats but these two spanish men (who shouted when speaking and kept the whole bus awake) wouldnt let us put our seats back, so we had no room what so ever.
We had school the next day, but we were told we wont be doing anymore teaching and just farming instead. Today I was ill so we stayed in the hotel then went out for a late lunch when I was feeling a bit better :)
Love Aliss xoxox

Posted by AMellar 02:06 Archived in Cambodia Tagged monkey the dolphin shack republic sihanoukville phnom pehn utopia Comments (0)

The day before xmas eve... and it still feels like July.

Hot hot hot and a lot of farming.

sunny 30 °C

The last time I wrote I forgot to mention the policeman on the top of the temple we saw at sunset. We were taking loads of photos of the orange sun going down behined the temple when this fully uniformed and official looking policeman made his way over to us. At first he just stood behind us for a bit, then after a few minutes (which were spent looking at one another in confusion) he tapped me on the shoulder and asked me if I would like to buy his police badge.... It was a bit of a shock, especially as he said he would give us a special price, it is however illegal to have a police badge, and in cambodia the police are as corrupt as anything so not a good idea. I said no and we tried to walk away but he kept following us asking to buy it. Evenutally he left. Apparently its quite common for the police to sell you things and then as soon as you take it either say that your not allowed it and arrest you, or wait untill you leave and report the item as stolen...
The next day at the temples was really good. We were up at 4-30am to get the TukTuk to Ankor Wat for Sunrise. We were sat by literally the most annoying british people I have ever met in my entire life. The girl was very jack wills, except as much as she tried to hide it she had a really bad cockney accent, she'd got there late so didn't have a good space and so declared that anyone in her way was going to be drowned. And the boy she was with was like that guy from the youtube video- 'Gap Yahh' He elbowed me in the head a fair few times. The view was pretty amazing though, but it didnt come up untill like 6 so we could really have had another hour in bed. We left early to look round the templ3e and Im glad we did because we were the only ones there so it seemed even more impressive. We next went to 'Ta Prohm'which is the jungle temple that Tomb Raider was filmed it. It was deffinatly my favourite, the trees roots grow right around the temple. It was packed though, Japanese tourists everywhere. We did Bayon and Ankor Thom too and a few more that the TukTuk driver thought we would like but we were back in Siem Reap by 1pm. It doesnt take that long to go round them really.
This is when I had a ridiculous idea. I honestly dont know why I thought it would be a good idea to get my hair cut. But it was pretty long and in a bit of a state. James needed his done too, so we went to the nearest one we could find... for a 3$ haircut!!! I asked her to take an inch off, but apparently in Cambodia that means everything. So I now have a bob. Its horrific, it hardly even ties back. James' looks good, but he did have to remind the hairdresser to put the guide on the clippers because to begin with he was just going to make him bald. It was certainly no tony and guys. We had tea in the tiger de papier pub, it wasnt too good, and I got a free tshirt for ordering a pitcher of redbull and vodka from the temple club.
On monday we went to book our bus ticket back to Phnom Pehn with 'Mekong River Cruise.' After we headed to the souveniers market, which was actually really good and really cheap. We bought a load of Cambodian Silk scarves, some buddist cushions and I bought a new purse too (as mine broke) a lot of the money goes towards street children in Phnom Pehn.
Tuesday was back to work. I had asked not to have my morning class anymore (they bully me) so the co-ordinators reaction was to sent them all to Kymer school in the morning and have all of the children in my afternoon class instead, so now its twice as hard. But to be honest we havent done much teaching, just lots of farming, digging up grass etc. Its been really hot the last few days though, so the farming becomes much harder. Today we had a party for the children and mixed the classes together. We had bought them all candy canes and pepsi and stuff, but they still just ignored us and shot eachother with handmade guns. In fact thats a lie, the girls are really good, they kept making us christmas cards and stuff. Given they hadnt grasped the concept of ''to'' and ''from'' so we had about 10 cards saying 'To Aliss and James, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, Love From Aliss and James' but they are cambodian and its the thought that counts.
Tonight were going over to the riverfront to have a look and then tomorrow morning we leave for Sihnoukville, The beach :):) Weve found a place that does sunday dinners so were hoping they will do a christmas dinner for us.
Anyway. Merry Christmas :)
Love Aliss xoxo

Posted by AMellar 02:34 Archived in Cambodia Tagged police ta wat christmas prohm ankor farming sihnoukville Comments (0)

First Night

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Posted by AMellar 05:05 Archived in Cambodia Comments (0)

The last few days...

wow.

sunny 29 °C

Well since friday we have been crazy busy!! On friday night we went to a resturant that specializes in Insect cuisine... So we orders a plate of fried tarrantulas to start. Now I hate hate hate spiders anyway, and the days building up I thought I may be able to handle eating one, but when they were put on the table I immediatly felt sick... They had like 2 parts to their bodies, one gianthead then a bit where the web and the babys and poison come out and stuff. When they were put down, Kimlay our co-ordinator, said just eat all of it. James and a few of the other volunteers went for it and just wacked it in, I however turned around to be sick. But eventually (when I was a little better) I manned up and tried a leg which is still the most terrifying ordeal I have ever gone through. James decided to continue his madness and proceeded to have a plate of red tree ants for his main, he said they werehorrible.
Afterwards James and I and other volunteers: Jasmine, Tegan and Diane, went to a ''Nightclub'' called the 'Heart of Darkness'' which apprantly i proceeded to call 'Prince of the dark'' all night. It was hilarious. Obviously after not drinking for nearly 3 months the few drinks I had went straight to my head, which led me to buying everyone vodka shots, which just made things worse. We got up on stage and were just dancing in a little circle when we were approached by a rather unconvincing ladyboy in the tightest dress i have ever seen. Her body was gorgeous, very slim etc, yet he had his wig glued to his head, and there was deffinate...bulging... in certain areas. It really took a shine to me too, Jasmine and I tried to escape to the toilets but it followed us anyway, luckily James came to our rescue. We started to look around and realised we were pretty much the only straight people in the club, we think it was a gay bar... But whatever it was absoloutly hilarious.
The next day James and I harboured our hangovers with a proper British cooked breakfast from an Irish Pub called 'Paddys Rice'on the riverfront. The waitressing leaves a lot to be desired but otherwise the meal was lovely. We then did the S21 museum. It was horrific, but it really opens your eyes to how horrible the Kymer Rouge were. There were pictures of babies being taken from their mothers then either thrown against trees or being thrown in the air and stabbed as they landed by the end of bayonets. It wa very interesting but really horrible. We went to the kings palace too which is very impressive, and also to Wat Phnom where we were walked along the roads around the mountain on a very uncomfortable elephant called Sambo. We went to the killing fields which was equally horrific as S21 just not so vivid. There are so many mass graves whoch had upto 450 people in, and as you walk around there are still bits of teeth and bone scattered around. To top it off (and make James' day) we headed over to the shooting range where I shot a M16 and James used a shot gun and an AK47. James was chuffed because he hit the bullseye...
We also had a look at Phnom Pehn Water Park, it was disgusting, I wouldnt recommend it to my worst enemy, the water was grey with filth and the only other person there was an old manin a speedo on an exercise bike...
A lot of the volunteers went home too last weekend, so we had there leaving party in 'Happy Herb Pizza', which is pizza with a special ingredient ( a traditional kymer ingredient) ganja. But i dont think it was actually in any of our pizzas, especially not my modest margerita.
This week has been pretty standard, except im now only going to teach one of my classes at the school because one of them is horrible to me. So ill just help james instead. We have done quite a bit of farming though.
We left early on Friday to travel to Siem Reap for the weekend to see the temples of Ankor. The hotel we are stayin in- ''Encore Ankor'' is really really nice and with a very reasonable price too. Except this morning when we woke up we looked out of the window and there is a pool of crocodiles outside (obviously a farm) but there must be 40 or so huge ones all just next door!
We went to the temples today and I was very impressed. We have left all the big ones to go to tomorrow but today we went to one where the carvings were underneath the riverbed (James fell into the water it was hilarious) and another where there are loads of little passage ways and at sunset we went to one with loads of steps and watched the sun go down from the top, it was lovely.
Siem Reap is gorgeus, much prettier than Phnom Pehn, with a pub street and a little river running through with loads of designer shops. It reminds me a lot of Biarittz in France actually. We went for a mexican tonight, 'Viva' the first one in 3 months, it was amazing!!!.
Ooh and I tried to go on skype on thursday night. Infact James and I stayed up till half 12 but when we went to he internet cafe (in the middle of a tropical storm) it was shut, so we were tired and drenched for nothing.
Love Aliss xox

Posted by AMellar 05:33 Archived in Cambodia Tagged temples fields palace wat royal killing reap s21 siem ankor phnom encore viva Comments (0)

First Week In Cambodia

:)

sunny 34 °C

Hello :)
So were fast approaching the end of our first week in Phnom Pehn- the capital city of Cambodia, and so far were loving it :) The city is really really nice, it was a french colony at one point so the riverfront is well done out, just like a french city and has loads of gorgeous restaurants along the front. We went to the Foreign Correspondents Club on Tuesday (a restaurant of the hotel where all the journalists used to stay when reporting on the Kymer Rouge) Its really famous but for 2 cocktails, 2 drinks and 2 meals, the bill only came to 25$. We ate in the food stalls last week for 1$50. So deffinatly cant complain about that. James really likes the food here, its a lot like chinese food but a little more exotic, hence why im not too keen, but ive been having the kymer food that isnt too spicy, and kymer fried chicken sticks are lovely!! They have some interesting dishes here though- chicken egg with the foetus still inside and boiled, sticky rice (for pudding) and for breakfast they eat huge amounts of noodles at 5am.
We have been at the project for the last few days, Ive been teaching the begginers class and James has taught the intermediate, but strangly enough it seems my class can speak more english so James isn't too please. But its been fun all the same, they love hangman, so whenever they try hard I let them play at the end. Its pretty funny though because the people here learn 'like'and 'love'so when they ask you something they say loudly ''You love it!', really exaggerated. Today however, we spent the day firstly in the project greenhouses, adding fertiliser to the plants (my hand- so yes picking up cow and chicken poo (or dust as they as they call it) and putting it into holes made by a bamboo stick, and then in the Paddy Field doing the yearly rice harvest. I actually really really enjoyed it. We went given much instruction, just ''cut'' and given a huge boomarang shaped knife but we got the jist of it. Theres an american boy at the project with us called Carl, hes living there fulltime though except for occasional travelling, it was nice having someone else who didnt have a clue either though. We learnt quickly and were even tying up the rice into bundles pretty well by the end of it. The only downside is, because rice is obviously grown in paddies, and therfore in a foot of water, you do all the farming in bare foot and whilst in the paddy we found a caterpillar the size of my arm, a few leeches, a giant snail and I suspect i trod on a water snake too... Im pleased no spiders have come along though, when digging for the fertilizer earlier I kept thinking about grabbing a peice of dirt to instead find a tarrantula. Luckily no. But on friday the co-ordinator Kimlay is taking us to a tarrantula restaurant, but I think i'll leave the fried spider up to James.
Also today on the way back from the project in the Tuktuk (which as Richard Mason Jones pointed out, you are probally wondering what one is... Its a little carriage attached onto the back of a motorbike which can fit up to six people in) crashed. It wasnt bad or anything, we were just ploughed into by a big 4x4 which wasnt looking, but in minutes the police were there. The police here are very corrupt and often ask foreigners for money, so we were worried about being asked. It even says in the guide book that often when things like this happen, they blackmail the forgeigners into paying by saying they will send the driver to prison if they dont pay a lot of money, and for no reason too. But thankfully we just carried on. The driver moaned the whole way back...
We watched the 'Killing Fields' last night, a film based on the journalist Sidney Schanberg's coloums on Phomn Pehn at the time of the Kymer Rouge. It was strange that the war here between the Kymer Rouge and the government only finished a decade ago, yet the country is so lovely, you would never imagine that it was bombed and nearly flattened by terrorists. We are having a very touristy day on saturday though, were going to the Killing Fields, the national museum, the S21 museum, the silver pagoda and to try and see everything else. On Sunday though, we have been invited to a Buddist engagement party, the man has met his wife once-last week, but the marriage has been arranged for them, so that should be interesting.
I have caught a cold from being in Heathrow a day last week, so im being looked at really strangely here, a lot of people wear masks anyway and according to the co-ordinator its because they dont want to catch colds... so I think im being kept clear of... But I did hate the cold last week, even more than I thought i would. I dont think englands weather is going to agree with me much when I get back :/ So I feel sorry for everyone at home, but at the same time I am missing the snow and Christmas time, it doesnt feel like christmas at all here, but thats good because it feels like a completly different world and nothing at home bares any ressembalce so i dont miss things too much.
Love Aliss xoxox

Posted by AMellar 02:29 Archived in Cambodia Tagged fields cambodia tuktuk rouge killing marriage phomn pehn kymer arranged Comments (0)

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