Posted by stefan on 4 May 2010
We have just met Denise again. Denise is Irish. We had met her in HCMC’s funny expat scene. When today in Mui Ne we stepped onto one arbitrary bus among the thousands that go north each day, suddenly she was there again. Yesterday in Mui Ne, Julian met two expats that he had been boozing with some days ago in HCMC. But the greatest miracle happened the day before yesterday: When we dragged out of bed at 9 this once because of the heroic 35th anniversary of Saigon’s liberation, I was singing the beautiful German schlager Wunder gibt es immer wieder (There are miracles again and again). Indeed: When I went down the steps to the living room of our guest house granny, who sat there but Caroline and Anne-Laure, the two French girls we had once met in Rattanakiri, Cambodia, the official end of the world. Among the thousands of guest houses in this city they had actually booked the one remaining room besides ours chez granny. They had been living here for days. It was just our entirely different sleeping rhythm that had kept us apart.
What do these miracles want to tell us? Apart from the realization that the traveller trail in Vietnam is apparently as narrow as the country itself, to me it says a lot about the abundance in the Universe: The world is a benevolent place for those who live in abundance. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted by stefan on 30 April 2010
Posted by julian on 24 April 2010
By now it should be common knowledge that Cambodians are the most beautiful people on earth with the best taste in websites. Yet we cannot leave this wonderful country without shedding a light on what’s maybe the most tasteful pillar of its culture: Khmer pop! In hours and hours of investigation we have narrowed down the gigantic choice to four great Cambodian hymns. We leave the final choice of the Sagesex Khmer Pop King 2010 to you and wish you a great time with these pearls of entertainment. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted by admin on 23 April 2010
Posted by stefan on 22 April 2010
Cambodia should be a gourmet’s paradise: It’s situated between Vietnam and Thailand, two representatives of internationally renowned super cuisines. Our cooking class with Smokin’ Pot in Battambang kept us wanting more as well. Wonderful curries, not as spicy as in Thailand nor as subtle as Vietnam, but very smooth and delicious. The national specialty “Volcano/Fire Mountain”, for which you fry carpaccio marinated in peanut sauce on a kind of turned-over pasta strainer over an open gas light, truly delighted us as well.
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted by stefan on 21 April 2010
This memorial plaque stands in front of South East Asias most beautiful and clean public toilet in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. And Mr. Toilet does exist indeed! He is the best man in the world and his mission for saving human lives is the most important ever. Sagesex calls for donations to the WTA! At last a sensible NGO!
Posted by julian on 20 April 2010
Viva la village!
People. They are here and there and everywhere. No one can escape. No one stops them. Except in Cambodia, the most rural country of all. Admittedly there are people settling everywhere in the whole country, but that does not mean much here. The only place that is “crowded” wit people is Phnom Penh; With 1.5 million inhabitants it is Cambodia’s capital and only urban center of the country. Elsewhere the country is populated thinly but steadily. Towns with less than 10000 habitants are provincial capitals and some people live 100 kilometres away from such towns.
So villages are en vogue in Cambodia! At least for the urban ones among the farmers. Namely most Cambodians live from and with agriculture and often in colonies that can barely be described as villages. The church and the pub are the centers of their lifes. That is to say, the pagoda or a restaurant, night market or just a stall selling drinks and one or another disgustingness. This is where the male villageship spends their free days and hours.
So life is simple for most Khmer people. Also it is dependent on natural regulations like dawn and dusk, wet, dry, seed and harvest time. Life mainly takes place outside, people sleep in their huts. In many parts of the country you can travel for hundreds of kilometres without seeing one single building built of stone or one tarred street. Who needs that stuff if he has everything necessary in his bamboo hut and on his field. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted by admin on 18 April 2010
On the first day of Songkram my true love gave to me…
No Parade of Clowns and Naked Elephants
13.04. So where is the party? For days people have been talking of nothing but Khmer New Year. Which should be today according to our information, which isn’t much. Yet the streets we had inspected so minutely during the days before look largely unchanged. Well, the dirt-piste-wet-splashing-trucks and the steamroller seem to have been there, but no sign of party and parade. Maybe the chef in Battambang had lied when he told us the cities would be orphaned around New Year because everybody is going home to their families in the countryside. Maybe the 6000-souls-village Sem Monorom does not host the party of the century.
Or, much simpler, we simply got the day wrong. Later on we rent a motorcycle and find out that Khmer New Year does indeed start tomorrow. Apparently, the starting date changes anually because of the differing calendar. Just as well. One more day for discovering the region and meeting with a deadly scooter accident once again. Viva Cambodian “streets”!
On the second day of Songkram my true love gave to me…
Beer and Cigarettes for Breakfast
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted by admin on 17 April 2010
Posted by stefan on 16 April 2010
Slowly but surely I’m becoming a smoker. It’s not my fault. Cambodia is to blame. But let’s start at the beginning.
It started when we had to buy cigarettes for rolling joints. Because we couldn’t find any loose tobacco. By the way, you have to use yucky newsprint paper for rolling here. Anyway, we realized that Cambodia has the cheapest cigarettes on earth: They start at 500 Riel, which is not even €0.10! For a whole pack! In Germany they cost about 50 times that much! Admitted, it’s rough stuff, but that just makes it worse. Moreover, as a former non-smoker I have no idea how a “good” cigarette would taste. I used to find them all disgusting.
Then, the nicest people invite us for smoking here all the time. Everybody smokes. It’s not as if there’s a lot to talk since everytime we try to learn Khmer our brain explodes and hardly anyone speaks English. Plus, the people here don’t seem to talk much anyway. Cambodia is the kingdom of enjoyable boredom. So you sit around, drink a beer, and smoke.
Yet the final blow came with our latest guest house room. Luxury class – including our own bathroom. The drawback to the luxury is that in truth it’s just a john with a head high separation wall to the tiny room, so that you get to experience fully all the noises and smells. Thus Julian’s idea of always smoking one of those cigarettes we already owned anyway when shitting. An ingenious idea. But what a powerful conditioning. Only too quickly you get used to this comfortable habit. I just hope we’ll find a shared bathroom in Pnohm Phen.
Maybe it’s too late already. Now and then I catch myself feeling I want a cigarette. I could have never imagined this a while ago. This country is truly vicious. Well, at least I hope to get rid of the coffee addiction I acquired in Thailand – because Khmer coffee is certainly the most repulsive one in the whole wide world.