I'm Going Shirtless

Cambodia Travel Blog

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OK, so by now you know that I'm not a huge fan of the constant heat Cambodia seems to dole out on a daily basis.

( The sweat drips down the back of your legs at the weirdest moments. Its hard to get a grip on things you pick up or try to open because your hands get sweating...)

Anyway. Clothing is tricky in this heat. You cant walk around with your arms and legs exposed becuase:

a: the monster malaria mosquitos will get you...
b. you wont be able to visit half of the interesting stuff in the country becasue you must be modestly dressed
c. you will fry.

On the other hand, all the stuff I brought is killing me. Lightweight, elbow length tee shirts from target just arent doing what they are supposed to do. aka, keep me covered and confortable.
I started cutting open the necklines of a few shirts to  get some air in.
No go.
I cut off the bottoms of the shirts so they wouldn't be as long and as bulky...
But nay, the glow continued. AK

Dressing  in the morning was a constant challenge and not my favorite part of the day (PJS are so much more comfortable!!)

It was a challenge that is, until I decided to get rid of my western shirts.
Thats right, I've decided to go shirtless.

Now for those of you who raise a prudish eyebrow to my rash actions... Fear not! I have not gone the way of the west African folk just yet... Instead I made a bee line for a local market and stocked up on hippy- dippy- light -white -airy -shirts. The kind the locals wear. Long sleeved. Nearly see through (but not quite) silk and cotton weaved shirts.

they are wonderful and  I haven't looked back since.
 When the breeze blows you feel it. When the sweat drips down your back - only you know (nothing sticks, nothing shows).

Aparently, this happens to many of my kind (first time westners traveling to southern Asia). We pack and then realize soon after arriving  that  all the crap we are lugging around is no good.

I plan on giving away some of my worst shirt offenders. The rest will come with me until I return home. In the meantime i will enjoy living in my Love-In shirts and lauging at all those who havent figured out that fitted cotton, no matter how soft and supple, is only going to make u miserable.
Im evil...i know:)

ifoundwaldo says:
20 bucks if you wear that getup to Mt Sinai.
Posted on: Jul 07, 2009
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Did you know that American Cheese does not need to be put in the fridge?
its true!

I know because I have been conducting a follow up experiment to my last American Cheese Recon Mission of  2008. (Cuba Trip)
The results, thus far, match the base data already collected:

American Cheese does NOT need to be refrigerated.
I have two packs of single slice yellow cheese in my backpack. Its about a million degrees outside and those babies have yet to be cooled.
When in desperate need of protein and preservatives, I dip into my cheese stash and have a bite.
Slimy? Yes.
Melted? yes
Disfigured? Yes.
Spoiled? NO!

I plan on keeping a few slices 'till the end of my trip. I will report back each week to tell you how long this stuff can go before it turns nuclear.

keep your fingers crossed!

I really dont know how to go about getting everything I did today in one blog entry. Im also not sure how to describe how cool it was with out using a lot of overused adjectives...Cool, interesting, Humbling, Fantastic.... Which one works? None. really. I'll stick to phraseology with made up words. Ahem.
Today, on my sisters birthday (HAPPY BIRTHDAY ALI!!) Eva and I jumped off the tourist bandwagon and went to Kompong Phhluk.
it was, 
by far, the most awesomest day ever so far on this trip.
Yes, I said Awesomest followed by a sentence fragment that doesnt fit. I dont care. its the truth.
How to begin?
We get picked up by a driver and guide at 7 am. We were both a little hesitant at going the
""high road" with reguard to the fact that we decided to hire a guide instead of hooving it on our own.
In hind sight, it was an EXCELLENT idea.
Anyway, back to the story at hand...
Car at seven...  drive out to tonle Sap lake, which is the largest lake in south east asia. Our goal was to visit the village of Konpong Phhluk= a fishing village built on high stilts to ward of the rising waters of the Lake the houses are next to. These stilts, are impressive. 10 meters high and entirely made out of bamboo.
This is a town where the children bike miles to get to higher education...where the community gets up at 4am to fish...where there is no electricity or running water. (want to watch tv? use a car battery. Want to us the bathroom? squat and scoop...water to flush that is... quite the experience!) The villagers do NOT see tourists every day. no one tries to sell you anything. Infact, YOU are the attraction. People nudge eachother as you pass. Kids run after you. EVERYONE says hello...agin... and again... and again... its amazing.

We arrive at Kompung K. and start our tour with our guide on foot. The paved road we had been traveling on ended about 3 miles before we stoped to walk. Out we went and our guide went to work showing us all  sorts of cool village details... see that open platform building? its a primary school (many pictures taken)... see those people husking large green flowers? those are lotus buds...want to try one (we ate a few!).
Look...there are people smoking and drying fish (no fridges here).... Those children are preparing fish traps... etc etc etc

After walking and talking for about 45 min. we arrived at our hosts home. Scrambled up two very steep flights of stairs (many people have ladders. I watched one grandmother climb up to a house higher than the one i was in. Baby on one hip, huge sack of bamboo in the other as nimbly as a 10 year old. I dont think i could do it half as well!)

Perched on a large balcony, we were at eye level with all the other stilted houses. The house we were in was entirely built by the women who lived inside (three women. An 85 year old nun, and two younger women- probably in thier 40 and 60s...never married. Very unusual for Cambodia!). Large and impressivly airy, we hung out in hammocks and ate mango and lotus blossom. We got a tour of the House (more like a very large hut) and hung out with our guide while we watched the world go by. Street life is very busy. Everyone is either fixing boats, making rope, smoking fish OR if you are a kid- playing in the dirt outside your home.

THIS was the asia I spent 17 hours on a plane to see.

After relaxing in the house we got in a boat to see the the stilted houses from the water perspective and to visit a more remote Vietnamese floating village. A floating village is basically a grouping of boat houses made of bamboo, wood and or metal drums with a tent over it.
We say boys setting traps for fish (dive to the bottom of the river and stay there for a few min. before coming up for air...people cutting straw for thier buffalo and cows... one man had a shop on a boat and paddled over to us to sell our guide bread. neat!
Our guide descibed all the ecosystems around the lake...the eb and flow of the water system and explained how the water gets so high during rainy season that you cant see the TREES because they are underwater.

Back to our hosts stilted house. We got a chance to rest again. Chatted more with our guide who descibe life as a single guy in a cambodian village. Want to get married? (there were about 4 wedding celebrations in the village the day we were there...they last 3 days)
You'll need to talk to the girls parents and be ready to shell out about 2000 usd to do so. AFTER you are engaged, then you get to date the girl. DOnt like her? too bad dude, that will cost you another 2K for the dishonnor of the family!
Our guide ws 30 and single. He says he doesnt like going to his friends houses becuase they are all married with one or two kids. Everyone asks him why he isnt married yet and it drives him crazy....

hmmmm WHERE have i heart THAT one before:) :) ..... half way around the world and I cant escape my own backyard!

after siesta, we went for another walk. We visited a school where we played with the kids. I did my famous fish face for a few kids and before I knew it, I had students AND grown ups around me watching, laughing, cheering and asking for more impressions. It was a lot of fun. It was nuts!
Monkey, Water buffalo (dont ask, I made it up) Duck and Bird and Fish Face... Thankfully, the kids had to go back inside just as I was running out of charade tricks to show them.  Walking out of the school yard we saw more neat aspects of village life.
Right out side the school yard was a woman selling "Cambodian style Ices"
= lage block of ice with sawdust on it (to keep it cool). Run a peeler like device across the top and catch the shavings as they fall.
Press into a cup and stick a small bamboo stick int he middle of it. Press again and then pop out of cup. Viola! Instant ices. Then it is flavored with your choice of syrup or coconut milk.
how cool???!
Onward. We pass a small Pagoda and stop to watch some boys play volley ball  (a rope tied between two trees acted as the net. They were very good!)
Walk to the edge of the village and then turn around. I should mention that kids (some naked) were following us EVERYWHERE. Parents would note our passing and then tell thier kids to come look. I have videos of 5 -10  small children waving hello and asking us to take thier picture.
I enjoyed this as it will probably be the closest thing to being a loved celebrity as I will ever get:)

At around 4pm we got back in our car. Dirty, tired, and completely thrilled with our day. Its 7:30pm and my head still feels like its on the boat (everything feels likes its slowly moving up and down...i better drink some more water!)

I highly HIGHLY recommend a visit to Kompong Phhluk for anyone who is visiting Siam Reap. Go with a guide, spend the money. its worth EVERY penny.

For those who are interested, we went with Buffalo Trails which is a Cambodian owned eco tourisim company. the owner is from the village, and speaks english and french, Our guide Burly, was lovely.

sorry this entry is long and rambling. This one is more for myself so that I keep the basics of the day straight in my head.

Now i have to go. The last bits of my salami await me upstairs (they had to defrost as I put them in the overzelous fridge and they froze right through...its bee about an hour now, so hopefully they will be good to eat)

speaking of which, do you know if I can eat salami that has somesort of greenish white-ish dust growing on the outer paper?
please say yes. its the last of my protien until I get to chang mai...and that aint for a while.

Eva and I took a bus to Siam Reap this morning. Our bus made a pit stop at by a small road side town. 30 min to use the bathroom, stretch your legs (its a 5 hour bus ride from Phenom Pen) and grab a bite to eat.

Of all the street fair, the bugs are my favorite.

not to eat, mind you. Grasshoppers and Beetles arent my thing. Watching other people buy the stuff, though is awesome.

A lady sat on the side of the road with a big silver bowl FILLED with bugs. You pay a few cents and she scoops a heaping pile of bugs (using an old can) into a plastic bag.

thats all!
You pay for your bugs and away you go. I watched as a mother bought some for her toddler son, and a dude from our bus payed for a double portion.

Yum Yum!
fried bugs
OK. our tuk tuk driver just got here. its time to go back to Ankgor Wat!

bye for now!

I am not much of a techie...I'll fully admit that. HOWEVER,  I do know how to use a converter.
1.  Make sure appliance is compliant with Voltage.
2. Attach correct adapter to pins,
3. Plug into wall
4. Set Appliance to low (just to be safe) and off you go!

Ha! Not in Cambodia, apparently.

After days of eating powebars Eva and I decided that it was time to have a nice warm meal.

Out comes our shiny new burner. Out comes my famous traveling pots (i have gone all over the world with them). Out comes the rice, water and condiments. Happy smiles all around.

Plug in the burner.
Set to low.
Thats when it happened.

...About 3 minuets after turing the burer on i hear a loud **POP**. I spin around and there it is..... Eva's converter making a crackling sound whilst  ominous smoke is rising from the vents.

I pull out the angry appliance, but not before ALL THE LIGHTS ON THE FLOOR WENT OUT.

No a/c. No illumination. No hot water (shower water required electricity to heat).

All we wanted was a little Near East, and instead what we got was annoying darkness.

Thankfully, someone replaced the fuse before we had to go downstairs (5 steep flights, btw. No elevator. Not fun when you have to shlep your luggage up and down!...but thats what you get for 16$ a night:)and admit our sins.

It did not, however, bring our sad little converter back to life.
It was still hot 3 hours later and would not respond to CPR or new electricity sockets.

Im afraid MR. Converter has died, and if we cant replace it most of our food will die too. (Its all dry stuff you need to cook).
I hope we dont run out of food before we hit the next chabad house!


jesperhn says:
Was the converter rated for use with a burner/cooker? I would guess not :)
Posted on: Jun 30, 2009
globalodyssey says:
the restaurants in siem reap are good and really really cheap...
good news..you can afford to eat out
Posted on: Jun 29, 2009
Lagalepsy: the condition by which you are so effected by jet lag that you fall into a near comatose condition at the most inconvenient times.

I suffer from Lagalepsy!
Episode no#1: Shabbos night. One Min. I was listening to a speechn about Korach and the next min. WHAM! I almost snapped my head off because fell asleep sitting up. OUCH. (Thank G-d an immediate Drool-Check was done and came up negative).
That was a close one.

Episode no#2: Sunday night: Phenom Phen, Cambodia. Eva and I ran around  all day looking at all the sights (A weird mix of sites..a concentration camp, killing fields... a royal palace, wat and museum.) came home at 5 and every intention grabbing a quick bite  before  heading out for a relaxing drink.

I had a granola bar and thats the last thing I remember.
Next thing I knew, it was midnight & I was sprawled across my bed curled up between a pile of clothes and my backpack. Contacts in, sunglasses still on my head. Looked across at eva who was fast alseep (in pjs).
ah yes, Lagalepsy strikes again!
eva says she tried to wake me up so I could eat something to which I replied I didnt need to because I had eaten a slice of salami (true- but i dont remember saying that!)

When will Lagalepsy strike next?

Tune in to find out!

Oh my:)
So Much to say I dont know where to begin!

Eva and I spent Shabbos in Bangkok. Shabbos Night: at chabad where we ate a light shabbos meal with about 150 beautiful people.
Yes, i said beautiful people (they were all Israeli. Post Army, suntanned israelis. Need I say more?:)
Singing, speaches, new friends made. On our way out of the chabad house (which is beautiful, btw, and very welcoming. Huge props to the families who spend thier lives in such an isolated place just so they could reach out to others). Eva, myself and a few girls we met at our meal bumped into a well meaning russian lady who was determined to marry one of us off to her son. Took us an hour to (politely) shake her only to be accosted by the well meaning but equally as wacky security guard (Israeli) who chatted us up for another age and a half. I cant really blame him. You should have seen the girls I was with:)
Walked around Koh San road for quite a while and finaly went back to our hotel at around midnight.

Shabbos day: Loung by the pool (majoy luxury which im really happy we splurged on), chabad house after...Met really nice couple, Dany and Andina Alpert from the DC area. Walked to Chinatown where we got lost (on purpose) and wandered the narroy alleyways, and medicine shops for hours.
Did you know that if you boil dried snake (whole) in soup and drink its good for you allergies?
Oh yes. Or if you;d like you can munch on a dried scorpion mixed with fish stomach. I kid you not. i wish I had my camera to show you what you could find in an traditional Chinese medicine shop. We watched one shop keeper as he put packaged different roots and herbs in white paper, weighed them on a scale (with small old fashion weights for balance) and calculated the total with an ABACUS.
We got caught in the rain, (Wheee!).. and when our feet were about to fall off ducked into a hotel and discovered it was small and beautifully appointed. We were all over that hotel checking out the rooms and the hallways. Came across a couch piled high with silk pillows and wide enough to be a bed...sat down..sorta fell asleep for a few min, but no one caught us -hehe:)

Back to Chabad for havdala. Hung out with some of the other Israelis and discussed travel plans.
After shabbos- went to one of the big markets in town. GREAT shopping....we are going to have to come back at the end of our trip.
More soon!
globalodyssey says:
very cool..i have shared the experience, in bangkok and amazingly, in luang prabang last year......nourishing
Posted on: Jun 29, 2009
Its pouring outside. Big big rain drops. Raining so hard the air looks white. I love it!
Normally, im not a rain person. In fact, having just left NYC where its been raining for nearly a month my tolerance for the wet stuff was pretty close to zero...until now.

In cambodia "comfortable" and "hot" work on a different scale than they do back home. According to our guide, today was "not hot". I highly HIGHLY disagree. Imagine, if you can, taking your oven and sticking it in your bathroom. Turn on said oven and get the room nice and toasty. Then turn on the water. let the room steam up. Once done, put on clothes, shoes, and a hat. March in place. Jump up and down. Add a backpack, camera and a BIG heavy water bottle.

Can you find any mosquitos? bees? lizzards? Great! Throw those in and you have your very own jungle. THATS what hiking today felt like.
Not matter though. Angkor Wat IS amazing.
We started our tour last night of the main temple. To be honest, i was a little dissapointed. Too many pictures, too many expectations. Yes, its large. Yes, the bias reliefs are amazing...but the outter facade is not as impressive as I thought it would be.
Luckly, a combo of sunset and Storm clouds made for an amazing sky and beutifully lit buildings.
We walked around the old temple while our guide told us stories of Buddist Tradition, hindu beliefs (all related to the exquiste wall carvings).
We finished the night with a hike up to the tallest point in Angkor to watch sunset. There was no sunset due to the storm clouds but the ruins at the top of the mountain were cool anyway.

Today we continued our tour of Angkor. We had a new guide (our first one apologized a few times for ditching us but had to as his parents were coming in to see him... people dont travel during the rainy season, so it was a big deal. Eva and I were impressed at his dedication to family first. There is little money to be had for locals during the rainy season. Our guide said so himself,but it didnt matter.
Parents are parents. they come first. Money, second. Our guide couldnt make his second days wage because he had to take care of his parents. Very very cool.

Anyway. today's view of Angkor Wat made up and surpassed my inital dissapointment. The temples are so numerous and so complex it really would take a week to see each one of the superfically.
We went to about 5. Each very cool. Lots of pictures. Lots of sweating. I think our guide realized we were done around 4 and suggested we go home. We gladly took him up on his offer. Soft westner? Absolutely.

On the way home we got to hear about our guides life before he became an english speaking Tour Operator (they work independatly).
Jin grew up in a small village a few killometers from Siam Reap. He has never left the country. He has never been to the capitol. He has never seen the ocean. He started  primary school at 12 years old. He studied with kids much younger than him  to make up for lost time.
(until he went to school jins job was to harvest rice and his families farm and take care of the cows).

The rest of the story is too long to put down here but needless to say it was facinating to listen to.
He expressed embarassement at not having a lot of formal schooling.
I pulled out a 5$ bill and showed it to Jin. I told him the story of Abe Lincolon and how he learned in a wood Cabin and was taught to write on a dirt floor.  Jin smiled. He liked the story  and said I should be a motivational speaker:)
Dunno about that but I''m glad to see my 4th grade bookreport on ol Abe came in handy 15 years later.
needless to say, I was duly impressed and to be honest, humbled as well.