My Trip To Cambodia

Started by TehBorken, Dec 19 06 09:52

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Fair enough.

For the record, I love it here or I wouldn't bother to post about this stuff.

Ahem, TB sorry about hijacking your thread dude.
For thou art with me; thy cream and thy sugar they comfort me
Thou preparest a carafe before me in the presence of Juan Valdez
Thou anointest my day with pep; my mug runneth over
Surely richness and taste shall follow me all the days of my life
And I will dwell in the house of coffee forever.


I like the small community here I think its a huge plus to DS.  
"We can't stop here. This is bat country."


I echo Lise's point about wanting this forum to grow into something more - and at the same time feeling very cautious about it. I love it as it is and only wish there were more of it.
A fool's paradise is better than none.


Raging Poodle! wrote:
I believe I've already conveyed my best wishes to Bork earlier in the thread. My message should still be there if he (or someone else) hasn't deleted it.
So now, I'm out of this thread.

Hmmm, maybe I should just lock this thread to prevent any misunderstandings or posts or anything. I don't want it to become a point of contention.  
The real trouble with reality is that there's no background music.

TehBorken where was I? Oh yeah, I miraculously surved the trip to Kompong Som and back.

Rejoicing in my avoidance of multiple near-death experiences at the hands of our enthusiastic driver, we checked back in at the Phnom Penh Hotel.

They have several nice restaraunts inside the hotel, one of them being the Palm View Café. It's a large room with multiple buffets set up with Indian food, Western food, and a couple of other kinds of food. Western food, as it turns out, means "things that are fried or coated in sugar", or, alternatively, "potatoes". Many kinds of potatoes- baked, fried, sliced, chopped, roasted, mashed, sauted, etc etc.

I happen to like buffets, probably because I'm a ravenous pig and I enjoy variety. We ate there a couple of times and the staff was so attentive it bordered on intrusive. For example, they'll run up, grab your can of Coke or whatever, and refill your glass if they think it needs refilling. Over here that would be considered a out of bounds but it's all part of the service there. If you look away for 2 or 3 seconds and they'll jump up, whisk your plate away, and leave you a new one. I practically had to guard my plate lest it disappear in the middle of a mouthful of food.

They also had a group from the Phillipines that would go from table to table serenading you, which frankly I hate with a passion. Every time they'd slither up to our table I'd wave my hands back and forth in the international "GO AWAY" sign, like I was waving off a Navy jet making a bad approach on a carrier landing. I *hate* having people stand next to my table and sing while I'm eating. They'd come up and say "Hi, can we-" and I'd scream "NO!!!!". Usually that was all it took, but sometimes we had to throw food at them too. (I'm kidding.)

The PPH also has a nice pool in the inside courtyard. We'd go there and just kind of paddle around in the water, very relaxing. My fiance had bought a bikini which is considered damn near scandalous behavior in Cambodia, and I had to coax her out of her wraparound sarong-thing each time, lol. She looks good in a bikini and all of the old farts sitting around the pool would leer openly at her, so she didn't stand up a lot, lol.

We took a trip to a bookstore for an English course for her and a Khmer-English phrasebook for me. They had some VERY odd little "cheap fiction" books there, with titles like "Candy For Breakfast", "Girl On A Motorcycle", and "Give Us The Money!".

Candy For Breakfast? ??? ??? ???  She looks happy. Or psychotic.

We stayed on the Club Excellence Floor of the PPH, which has a great breakfast buffet (MmmMmm, buffet....) and we took advantage of that every morning. Yo, a load of bacon, rolls, potatoes, power coffee, etc etc, plus they had a chef standing by (literally) to make ommlettes to order. You tell him what you want and then one of their lovely Cambodian waitresses brings it to your table when it's ready. I would fire up my laptop (they have wireless in the hotel) and check email after we ate. My fiance was fascinated by all of the spam I get and I had to explain to her that no, I am not ordering penis pills, soliciting 3 dozen mortgage offers, playing the stock market, or corresponding with "bored and horny" girls named Jackie, Francine, Melinda, Jean, Alexis, Kate, Mandy, etc etc etc. No, honey, I'm not buying "OEM software FRO CHEAP!!!", I'm not having any trouble with my Paypal account no matter what it claims, nor any difficulty with my "Fifth Third National Bank account", and I'm not selling anythng on eBay, looking to send money to Miriam Abacha in Nigeria, and I did not win the El Gordo Spanish Lotttery 3 times this morning. Arrrrg.

Power Coffee: it has about 200 times the recommended daily allowance of caffine. Drinking just one cup will make you break out in a sweat, then you get a sudden urge to run around the block 5 or 10 times, then start mowing the lawn and painting the hotel while simultaneously dictating a few dozen letters. "Say-isn't-this-great-coffee-I-think-I'll-have-another-cup-and-then-finish-moving-all-the-furniture-
on-the-third-floor-back-up-to-the-roof..." It's heady stuff. I limited myself to 5 or 10 cups a day.

Power Coffee...vroooooooooooooom goes your heart!

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When you travel around the city you'll see that nearly every inch of sidewalk and storefront is paved in these gorgeous old tiles, red and brown, in a variety of patterns. I think they date from the time of the French rule, and they're all beat to hell now and dirty, but you can see that at one time they looked elegant and were beautiful to behold. It's kind of sad, really. All of this wonderful old tile, scuffed and covered in grime, but at one time it was grand and very lovely.

Practically the whole city is covered in it. Some has been painted, some is cracked, but it's everywhere and made me sad to see it in such a state of disrepair. Fixing the tile in the streets is a low priority in a city that has been bombed halfway to rubble and back, then abandoned for several years (during Pol Pot). It would be like painting your house while it was on fire- there are more pressing things to do, you know?

The Parking Lot Cops versus the Police: The police are, frankly, a kind of ragtag bunch. They all look like they got their uniforms at a yard sale- they're all different and mostly non-standard. It's like they told them, "Okay, you're a cop- now go buy yerself some blue pants and a vest, or a jacket, or a cummerbund, or whatever you can find at Crazy Eddies House Of Uniforms. And don't spend more than five bucks".

The parking lot cops, however, look like friggin honor guards at the Tomb Of The Unknown Soldier- spit-shined boots, Sam Brown Belts, clean uniforms, and they're dressed at least twice as fancy as the cops. In fact, they look like brigadier generals who happen to be standing around in the parking lot directing traffic. Some of them even have medals (!!!) pinned on. I guess they got the medals from the Great Parking Lot War of 1912 or something.

A few of them even carry guns. No, not your wussy little pistol-type guns, but fricking machine guns. Really- I saw one at the City Market that had a full-auto Kalishnikov hanging on a sling across his back. I'll post some pics so you can see. Really, the cops look like refugees from Somalia and the Parking Lot Cops look like they're dressing for an upcoming military inspection.

Police officer - kinda shabby

Parking Lot Cop - looking Goooood

Parking Lot Cop - looking Goooood

Parking Lot Cop - Park where he says, OR ELSE.

The Market: You can buy things here, including many tasty kinds of bugs to eat.

You can jump to the story of my 4th trip here (,3388.msg93579.html#msg93579).
(for some mysterious reason you might have to click twice)

The real trouble with reality is that there's no background music.


Interesting contrast between the cops and the parking lot guys.  What's with that I wonder.

  Why those food pics look ummm....delish.
Sir Isaac Newton invented the swinging door....for the convenience of his cat.


So, Teh Borken, which one is you?  I have yet to see a pic of lovely Sakha and you together.  I'd love to see one. :)  In exchange, I will show you a pic of me and my fiance, all suited and dressed.


 awesome tehborken awesome.
teh borken pic? oh I want to see I want to see *jumping up and down like a little school kid* lol

"We can't stop here. This is bat country."


Excellent story, TB. I love every minute of it!! Thank you! Looking forward to more.
Always end the name of your child with a vowel, so that when you yell the name will carry.
Bill Cosby.


^^^^ what she said     :)
More bug pics please!!!
How did you like them?
What kind of sauce goes best with giant hairy black spider thing??
For thou art with me; thy cream and thy sugar they comfort me
Thou preparest a carafe before me in the presence of Juan Valdez
Thou anointest my day with pep; my mug runneth over
Surely richness and taste shall follow me all the days of my life
And I will dwell in the house of coffee forever.


Congratulations on your Engagement, Mr. Borken. :)  


 TheAngel wrote:
Congratulations on your Engagement, Mr. Borken. :)  

Thank you.  
The real trouble with reality is that there's no background music.

Lil Me

Congratulations to you and your finace, TehBorken.  Thanks for sharing your travel story and photos.  What an interesting place.  
"In the absence of clearly-defined goals, we become strangely loyal to performing daily trivia until ultimately we become enslaved by it."  Robert Heinlein


 Another trip, another update.

I did the Seattle-Taipei-Cambodia run again, and I timed this trip so I'd be there for my fiance's birthday. This is the hot season in Cambodia, and they aren't kidding. It's hot. Really, really hot. Like "writhe-in-the-fires-of-Hell" hot. But other than that it was okay. I got there, she met me at the airport in Phnom Penh and we stopped by her folk's place on the way to the hotel. We killed a whole day getting me a visa for Vietnam and wandering around a bit. The next day we went to Vietnam, and that was strange and bizarre.

We left Phnom Penh and took a little bus/taxi about 50 miles down a thoroughly-ruined-road-from-hell to a little fishing village on the Mekong River. No shit, that road had potholes the size of Rhode Island...every 20 feet or so. They were like tank-traps. (They might have actually been tank-traps for all I know.) Bam, THUD, Wham, crunch. Lather, rinse, repeat, until we felt seasick from all the jolting. At the little village we got into a really small 5-person boat and motored down the Mekong River for about 50 miles or so. The Mekong is a beautiful, picturesque river and about as scenic a place as I've ever been.

On the Mekong River

Along the river you'll see people washing and bathing, and even watering their oxen. Eventually we pulled over to the shore at this tiny, decrepit little shack. It was so dilapidated that in America we wouldn't even use it for a garden shed, but it was the  Vietnamese Official Customs & Immigration Entry Point. We got our papers approved and then took off on a couple of motorbikes ("motos"). As it turned out, this was a huge frigging mistake, but I'll get to that later.

We moto'd along for about 20 miles, then took a tiny little ferry across a twisty little river. Everyone, and I mean everyone gathered around me on the ferry ride and just stared at me. They were friendly, but still...I was waiting for someone to scream "Kill the imperialist running dog!"  But they just wanted to say "hi". It was very nearly a Depenz Moment for me.

We got off the ferry and by this time we were truly in Nowheresville. We were so far from civilization they'd have to pipe the sunlight in. Tiny little dirt villages that were right out of "Apocolypse Now", except people were wearing Nike shoes. God Bless America- 10,000 miles away and we could still pollute their timeless, age-old culture!

We took the motos another 20 miles or so until we came to civilization, sort of. This is where my fiance's cousin lives and it was semi-developed, but still kinda rough around the edges.

I was a sensation- everywhere we went people would stop what they were doing and call out to us, wave to us, etc. They'd follow us down the street and stare at us (me, actually). I was the whitest guy for 500km in any direction and some of these folks had probably never seen anyone as white as me. The kids just went bonkers and wanted to touch me, look at my eyes, etc. They all know the word "hello", but not much more. I felt soooooooooo white. Blindingly, excruciatingly white, but everyone was as friendly as could be. They treated me like a movie star, no kidding. Anywhere we went it was a total scene.

They have some weird signs there. I'm not sure what this one says; I think it means "Beware Of Ninjas Stalking Little Girls" but I could be wrong.

It was very, very hot and humid. Vietnam is like Hell With Loudspeakers. They have these big-ass speakers mounted all over the city and a couple of times a day they click on, play military music, then they read "news" or propaganda stories. It's freaky and there's no getting away from it.

Clothing is super cheap. There are about 16000 dong to the dollar and nice shirt is about 10000 dong to 20000 dong (about a dollar or so). We bought a lot of clothes for my fiance, she just went wild in the underwear department, lol. We bought underwear, shirts, skirts, shoes, dresses, winter gloves, etc etc. It was too weird- here we were sweating our asses off  in 100-degree heat, and we're buying winter gloves. It was truly surreal. God only knows why they even sell winter gloves in a place that rarely drops below 80 degrees, but they do.

The schoolgirls in Vietnam all wear these identical white uniforms, it's a white dress and a long white cape and a white hat. When school lets out you'll see like 100 of them go by you pedaling their bikes, and it's just a bizarre sight to behold. They're all the same size and they look like a swarm of clones going by in their long flowing dress, hat, and cape.

( (
Just imagine coming upon a flock of 100 or so of these young ladies...!

We bopped around the city and met a bunch of my finance's relatives, aunts, uncles, grandmas, etc etc. Nice people, very friendly. The way the electricity comes into the house is something else, check it out:

The power panel:

The wire leading into the house. Bob Vila would not approve.

I found that I can read Vietnamese fluently, like a native, although I have no idea what I'm saying. This was a huge source of amusement for everyone as I'd read the newspaper and headline stories aloud. Honest- apparently I read about ad fluently as a native-born speaker but with an American cowboy accent. "Dai ling ban chung gaow, pardner."

We stayed in a semi-crude hotel. At night the hotel owner takes ("confiscates") your passport and runs it down to the police station, then brings it back in the morning. They explained it was for my "protection" *cough*. I don't know what it was they were protecting me from, but's a rule.

Unfortunately there was another Cambodian lady staying at the hotel and when she left in the morning to go to Ho Chi Minh city the hotel owner gave her my fiance's passport. The lady took off and went all the way to Ho Chi Minh city (about 300 miles!) and got to the gate at the airport before they noticed that it wasn't her passport. Meanwhile we were forbidden to leave the city or go anywhere since my fiance had no travel documents.

No one could (or would) tell us where her passport went or why it had gone missing, so we were getting a bit nervous. They eventually trucked her passport back but it cost us an entire day of waiting around wondering if we were going to be arrested for something or other.  When we finally got it back we decided to get the ^$%#!@ out of Dodge and so we made a mad dash up the road on a couple of motos to get back to the boat. Now I understand that line in Apocolypse Now: "Don't get out of the boat." No shit.

However...when we entered Vietnam, we never got the official stamp on our passports. Whoops. Remember that "huge frigging mistake" thing I mentioned? Yeah, that was it. We had actually cleared the Customs garden shed Official Entry Point and were literally at the line that separates Vietnam from Cambodia when one of the customs officers stopped us. (The line is about 1/4" wide and is colored white, just in case you're wondering. Vietnam is here, take a step, *bingo*, now you're in Cambodia.)

The customs officer had a *major* meltdown when he saw we didn't have entry stamps. Well, hell, we'd have gotten one but they never told us we were supposed to when we came in, so we didn't. Doh. Apparently it's a pretty serious crime to be in Vietnam without an official entry stamp in your passport. We spent the next couple of hours being run back and forth between several buildings being questioned, sent on, questioned again, etc etc etc. The questioning became more aggressive each time. I was sweating profusely and it had nothing to do with the heat, believe me. All I could do was nod and smile like a retard since I don't speak any Vietnamese. (I do now, but that's another story.)

Customs Officer: "¢¥ αΘ ωψ Φ ≠ζ  λϖ, ☼φ!!"
Me: "Uh, yeah..."
Customs Officer: "☼φ ≠ Ξψ, ≤ζ  λ╔ ¥ αΘ ω∃!!"
Me: "You bet, absolutely..."

You get the idea. I had no idea what he was saying. I could have been confessing to stealing nuclear secrets for all I knew.

They finally got us backdated stamps, but not until my fiance gave one of the customs officers a 20000 dong note "for his trouble" (I swear I'm not making this up). That's right, it cost a $1.25 to bribe a Vietnamese Customs Official. That's a heck of a bargain if you ask me. He made a big show of not wanting it but when we left the interrogation room it was sitting on the table under his hat...

We went through it all again, got our exit stamps, and jumped over that little white line. Ha ha, suckers, come and get me now. I'm Cambodia and you can't do shit to me here, hahahah! Well, as it turns out, yes they can. I had to get another #*&%! visa to be allowed back into Cambodia and I wasn't going anywhere until I did. Twenty dollars and 3 paper forms later I was legally in Cambodia again and just a wee little bit short on patience if the truth were told. Rrrrrrrrrrr.

Back in the boat. Back up the Mekong. Back into the little taxi bus. Back up the road that seemed like it had been freshly bombed since we came down it two days ago. We got back to Phnom Penh that evening and it was like being in New York compared to where we had been. We checked into the Phnom Penh Hotel and I'd swear we looked, felt, and smelled like we'd just crawled across Africa on our stomachs. We were so tired we barely made it to bed.

I got up the next morning and went to the wonderful little breakfast buffet they have on the 4th floor where we stay. There was a German guy in there yelling at one of the adorable little Cambodian waitresses, screaming at her in German for something. He was scaring the shit out her and she was frozen stiff. I have very little patience for this kind of shit even on my best days, and this was not one of my best days. I went up and interrupted him in mid-rant and quietly asked him if he spoke English.

"Yes", he said.
"Then shut the f*ck up", I replied.
"The orange juice is warm!" he bellowed.
"It's Cambodia in April", I said, "Everything is warm. Even the ice is warm. So just shut the f*ck up. a**hole." And he did. Prick.

Oooh, the orange juice is warm! Grab your gun, Fritz, ve vill teach those Cambodians a lesson! Give me a f*cking break.

Lol, the waitress appreciated my polite intervention on her behalf and I got really attentive service that morning. What an a**hole that guy was.

That night we had my fiance's birthday party and it was a ton of fun. It was her first birthday party ever. I rented out a private room at the Hai Yi restaurant and invited her whole family. We had the works- a huge dinner, cake, presents, etc etc. We had gone out earlier and I'd had her pick out a nice rock for her finger, but the presents were the fun part. Who doesn't love tearing the wrappings off of presents? No one in that room, that's who. lol

The rest of the time we shopped, ate, and recovered from our *cough* vacation in Vietnam. I got a cool MP3 player that is super small and has a gorgeous color LCD screen. It has a ton of stuff crammed into it: an MP3 player, an eBook reader, an FM radio, a movie player, a picture gallery, built in games, a voice recorder, and some other stuff. The movie player even came pre-loaded with "Ice Age", lol. All of that plus the charger and cables ran about $40. (!!!) It was nice to have on the ride back to the US and I'm going to get a couple more the next time I go back. I've not seen anything like it for sale in the US. I got my son a bunch of games for his Nintendo for a few dollars each. One of the game cartridges has 190 brand-name games stuffed into it. Remember, there's no copyright in Cambodia.

Buhdda Shrines
We bought a nice Buhdda shrine, then made them take it apart so it would fit in my luggage. That was a first for them- they build 'em, they don't take 'em back apart.

Meeting the Monk
We also visited a pagoda and met with a monk who blessed us and gave us a nice Bhudda statue for the shrine. There must be something to that enlightenment shit because it was over 100 degrees in the pagoda and that guy didn't have a drop of sweat on him. Fresh as a &^#%! daisy. I, on the other hand, was practically swimming in my own sweat.

Finally, we went to the Central Market and yes, I ate a bug. Several, actually.
YUM. It wasn't bad at all, really. (I'm pretty sure my nose isn't that big in real life.)

So, I brought all this stuff back and have been unpacking for days. And that's about it.

Oh, the Vietnamese I learned? Here it is:

"Ban la nguy chung thom dai liy!".

It means something like, "You are very, very white!"

The real trouble with reality is that there's no background music.


Amazing TB.  Absolutely amazing.  I can't wait for more.
Sir Isaac Newton invented the swinging door....for the convenience of his cat.