It has been sometime since my last post and I blame this on several factors including loss of motivation, inadaquate computers, and expensive internet/wifi. Have no fear as things are going well and I am still kicking. I promise moving forward to be update this blog more often as I am now back in Australia for at least 3 months with a laidback internet cafe right down the street from where I am living. On a negative note I was on the recieving end of pick pocket who helped himself to my Ipod touch. It really sucks as that was my internet, portal for my sweet sweet music, texting, and camera. I am thinking it happened when I was weaving in and out of the crazy busy night markets in Kuala Lumpur, but who really knows for sure. Bottom line is Jack Kerouac didnt have an Itouch and he made out pretty well. If you aren't familiar with the reference throw his name into the old Google search and read a summary of the book "On The Road." Actually a very funny reference to his book was in the movie Step Brothers. That being said I am travelling super light on technology, pulling a Jack Kerouac on everyone's ass if you will.To summarize the past several weeks I shall break it down into neat and nicely organized sections.
Leaving Sydney on a flight into Kuala Lumpur , Malaysia I was not sure what to expect. Touching down mid afternoon I made my way to customs and straight to the cash machine where I takeout ringits for a txi to the hostel where I am staying. It's about an hours cab ride and the friendly cab driver who was is driving like a bat out of hell with no method or logic. Weaving in and out of cars and blowing through intersections I was strongly motivated to fasten my seatbelt. Making it in one piece to a hostel by the name of Reggae Hostel #2 I made my way inside. It was a small hostel, about the size of two Baltimore rowhouses attached together. The rooms are small and cramped and there's barely enough space to put my pack on the floor. Unloading my things I make my way back out to the street where I am hit with pure chaos. Mopeds everywhere, cars, intense heat, smells that take your breath away (both good and bad), as well as street food everywhere. Coming off a long budget flight with no food I immediately make my to a vendor on the corner. The food is literally prepared on the sidewalk and 2 plastic tables and chairs is where you eat. Realizing I can't speak the language I am provided with a menu in pictures, Ikea style. I make a few selections and in 5 minutes several plates make there way on my table. All the meanwhile I am being looked at as if I am from a different planet and have three heads. I think the people just like watching this "Fat American" shovel food in his mouth via chopsticks at an alarming rate. After dinner I make my way to a sister hostel, Reggae Mansion, about 15 minutes walk on the same street. This hostel is owned by the same guy and is much larger with a sweet rooftop deck and fully stocked bar. The hostel is very nice and I have the chance to look into one of the 24 person dorm rooms. Usually a dorm is crowded with a bunch of bunk beds in a large room. People are coming and going all the time and it can be pretty noisy. However, this dorm was completely different. Instead of bunk beds there were bed sized cubbies (before starting this blog I have used the term cubbies 3 times in my entirelife, I think I have used it three more times the past two months) that are stacked on top of each other. Its hard to describe, but there are walls on three sides and the entrance has a curtain to give you privacy. You climb up a ladder to get to the second level ones, jump into the bed, and then close the curtain. It's like a litte room, so the privacy is definately welcomed. In the middle of the room full of cubbies is a long row of ottomans where people can spread out. The air conditioning was icy cold and I knew that after the two nights in my original hostel were up I was going to pull the old switch-a-rooney and shack up in this place for awhile. The owner of this hostel is obviously doing pretty well as he has three other hostels and parks his Ferrari out front for all to see. I grabbed a picture of it with me pretending to open the door and get into the drivers seat when he wasn't looking, but the only person to view this epic picture is the hell bound pick pocket. I wound up staying in KL for 5 days before making the decision to head out. I think 5 days spent there was more than enough. The highlight of my time there was visitng the Batu Caves. It was an hour long bus ride from the city and an experience I will never forget. There were huge caves with close to three hundred steps leading into them. Kind of like the steps in Ace Venturas Pet Detective, where he watches the slinky go all the way to the bottom. If only I had though to bring a slinky with me this could have been a reality. There were wild monkeys all over the place screaming, jumping around, and just doing monkey type things. I was waiting for a tour to start when one of these clever little guys came within 1 foot of me. Perfect I thought..what a great chance to snag an awesome shot of this crazy monkey. False, as soon as I reached into my pocket that Cheeky Monkey (also the name of the bar in Byron Bay, AUS) grabbed my 1 litre water bottle from behind me and jumped onto a vine into the trees. That damned monkey waited for me to reach into my pocket knowing that my hand would be tied up and then proceeded to grab the water. I could tell this wasn't his first rodeo as he escaped into the jungle and started to unscrew the cap to get a drink. Mind you, the bottle was the same size as the monkey and within 60 seconds the bottle slipped from his grip and dropped a good 30 feet below almost taking out a tourist making their way up the steps. For some reason both man and monkey like to steal things from me. All the monkey had to do was ask and I would have surely given him a drink. All in all I didnt like KL very much as the people were not very friendly and making my way around was very difficult. I still do not understand why the hostels utilized the name "Reggae" as they didn't play any reggae music, Malaysia is a Muslim country, and posession of cannabis is punishable by death. I guess it's just one of those things I am not supposed to understand. Ready to hightail it out of KL I was told Cambodia was the place to go. With a few clicks of the mouse and a couple good conversations with other travellers who had been there I was all set to jump on a 2 hour flight into Phnom Penh.
Entering into Cambodia, without doing absolutely any research, I was very scared making my way through customs. Fingerprints, pictures, $25 Visa fee, and scary dudes wearing millitray uniforms were waiitng for me upon touchdown. However, they were very friendly and very welcoming. Making my way out of the airport a herd of Tuk-tuk drivers were waiting for me. A $7 and hour long ride in a Tuk-tuk through the dusty, raw, hot streets of Cambodia was a sensory overload. I can't even begin to describe the sights and just overall feeling of being on a different planet entirely. The hostel I was staying in went by the name of "Happy Hostel" which was strongly recomended by a fellow traveller and true to it's name, it was very happy indeed. Cambodia is a very poor country that is still feeling the effects of the horrible genocide that took place there around 35 years ago. Unfortunately the USA contributed to some of this happening, but the people were still very friendly to me and didn't (or at least I think they didn't) harbor any resentment towards me. Street food is everywhere, Tuk-tuk drivers are constantly trying to give you rides, and prostitution plagues almost every street. There are different markets you can go to and buy all kinds of crazy goods, food, moped parts, etc. This markets are huge and covered with stalls that are crowded together in an unimaginable congested maze At one vendor I ate a baby roasted chicken and then to supplement this fat Americans hunger a few chicken claws. I always make jokes about how much I eat because it makes the locals laugh and takes the pressure off of me for eating so much compared to them. I don't want to call it a highlight, but a very memorbale day trip was touring the Killing Fields. This was one of the places were the Khmer Rouge took Cambodians to be executed. Executed not by bullets, but by blunt force objects to the head. Babies were killed by being swung into a tree, which is now adourned with trinkets and offerings. It was an audio tour that took about 2 hours and it was a very somber experience. I don't want to go into to much detail, but if your not familiar with the events that unfolded there it's worth a look. The mass graves, even to this day, still produce bone and tooth fragments after a hard rain. After the killing fields our tuk tuk driver offered to take us down the road where we could shoot a missle launcher for $300 or a machine gun for $40 a clip. Our targets would be live chickens or old cars. I though this a bit of an odd time to offer such an adventure after just experiencing 2 hours of sheer horror on the tour of the fields. Needless to stay I politely declined as $300 for a missle was outside of this poor backpackers budget. After the fields we made our way back closer to town where we then toured S-21. This was a processing camp where people were interigated/tortured before they were trucked off to be executed. It used to be an old school, but when the Khmer Rouge took over the city it was converted into a prison. Blood stains could still be seen on the floors and it's crazy to think this all took place not that long ago. It turns out our Tul-tuk drivers mother died at the hands of the Khmer Rouge from starvation. While it was kind of a depressing day, it was something that had to be done/experienced while visiing Cambodia. It's unreal the things Cambodians have expereinced, the extreme poverty they are currently blanketed by, and even through all this they are some of the friendliest people I have ever encountered. Not trying to sound to deep but it definately puts alot of things into perspective and it was truly an event that will shape the rest of my life. I really wish I had pictures of Cambodia and I think after my stint in Australia I will visit there once again as it's a great place to start he third leg of my journey deeper into Asia.
After about a week in Cambodia I realized funds are tight and before I continue my travels I need to make some money. Not really sure what to do I decided to grab a snack from a street vendor and figure out my situation. Enjoying a delicious meal on the streets of Phnom Penh (not even sure what it was I was eating, but it was tasty) I saw a white couple eating two tables down. I asked if I could join and we all just started talking. They were from Germany and suggested I head down to Margarets River, 300 km south of Perth in AUS to find some work. This area is known for their vineyards and some of the best surfing spots inthe entire world. From June to mid September they are in need of workers to prune the grape vines and get them strong for the spring. The pay is great and in a couple short months one can save enough money to travel the entire world and still have cash leftover. Dropping $325 on an Australian work visa I then booked a cheap flight from Cambodia to Perth, which is on the South West coast of AUS. Not much money to my name I made the 10 hour flight and then jumped on a 6 hour bus from Perth to Margarets River.
I have been in Margarets River for exactly one week and have already found a job. I am working on the weekends for a cereal & nut shop just outside of Margers River. It's a small family owned business and I am basically working the cash register the majority of the time. When it's not busy I am in the back filling bags of nut's and naturally cereal also. For $20 an hour I am not one to complain and this is supplmenting my income pretty nicely until the vine prunning swings into full affect. I am very lucky as there are alot of workers here, broke as a joke, just waiitng for the vines to be ready. We need cold weather and rain, and once the leaves fall from the vines it's go time Then everyone will get 40+ hours per week. If you know any cold weather/rain dances please feel free to send some of that energy our way. The hostel here is nice and I have included a few pictures. I had forgot to leave my old phone at home and amazingly enough I found it in my pack. It takes awesome pictures and I might be able to get music on there, o put that in your pipe and msoke it Mr. pick pocket. Three dudes from Hong Kong and two girls from Taiwain are also staying at the hostel and we are in the process of renting a house down the street for the three months we are here. It's alot cheaper and very comftorable, plus they can cook some mean Asian food, a huge plus.
Stay tuned for more as I need to get back and make some lunch. It's looking like Kangaroo sausage over a bed of egg noodles, with some generic red sauce. Food in my belly is all I need. Once again please don't mind the spelling errors as the spell check function is not active here. I hope all is well and eveyone enjoyed the Memorial Day weekend.
Over and Out,