Rambling Robert's Travels

This blog chronicals the travels of myself, Rambling Robert, on my next adventure to South America.

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I am a world traveller. I do not work as such. I have been homeless and unemployed since 1October 2003. I worked as a chef for 30 years in America.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007


Hello Earthlings,
Well if Thailand is the "land of smiles" than I suppose Cambodia is the "land of land mines" ! Of the 13 provences here, 9 are considered "heavily" mined and there are extreme warnings against straying off any well worn trails or roads. It is extremely dangerous to go for a casual stroll in the forest here.
Many of you who have been reading these travels of mine over the years know that I often "pooh-pooh" the posted dangers and go along my merry way. This is not the case here. These warnings are real so you have gotta watch your six here.
So that being said, I find Cambodia to be quite a safe country. I was here in 2004 and did the typical tourist trail of Siam Reap, Phnom Penh and Sihanoukville. This time I crossed overland from Bangkok Thailand to Poipet by bus. Poipet is just a shit hole!! The Lonely Planet is more polite than I and they call it a "cess pit" which I believe means...shit hole. A big rip off place that targets tourists with extremely overpriced travel. Poipet exists because casino gambling is illegal in Thailand. So clustered on the border are a bunch of western style casinos and there are the mandatory whore houses all around them. Whoa what a shit hole this place is!!! I stayed there for less than 2 hours.
Got ripped off on a late night share taxi because I dreaded the idea of an overnight stay. Paid $12.00 USD for a ride that should have cost 2 or 3 if it were earlier in the day or if I were Cambodian (Khmer). So off we went 6 passengers and a driver in a toyota camry taxi! One passenger in the driver seat with the driver!,4 in the back and I had the other front seat and didnt have to share. But I did have to hold my backpack in my lap the whole journey
Arrived in Battambang about 4 hours later. The road was mostly mud and big holes and not so big rocks for half the journey until we got to Sisophon and then it was more or less paved or at least graded the rest of the way. This is how come a 120km (80miles) drive takes 4 hours! But we finally arrived in Battambang in the dark in the rain and my driver took me to the hotel of my choice the Chaya Hotel.
I wasnt here in 2004. I only just heard of it from a German backpacker called Dirk who i met in Ko Pha Gnan and then met again in Pedang. Battambang is Cambodias second largest city. It has about 180,000 people and no real tourist attractions. It has lots of cool stuff and some neat things to check out in the country side but not really a tourist town. This is what I was looking for, since last time I only visited the three most touristed places. So i stayed for a week in a good 5 dollar a night hotel room with fan private bathroom cable TV twin beds and a lockable closet. Very nice room friendly staff. Awful restaurant...
There is a very moving monument in Battambang. If you go walking along the river, there is a plaza there about 1.5km from my hotel. The peace naga. A Naga is like a dragon with usually 5 or 7 heads. Each head is a cobra. This naga is about 10 or 15 meters tall (30 or 40 feet) and it is made entirely of barrels and metal parts of rifles. A group of art students from the local university dis assembled the rifles and welded them together to form two dragons eating each other. Very moving monument to a non violent society, That has known the torments of war and killing and hatred and violence.
Battambang also has a lot of nice buddhist temples stupas and pagodas scattered all over town. The art work is heavily influenced by hindu art. They are very beatutiful and colorful and depict scenes from the buddhas life and explanations of his teachings. In the country side there are a lot of interesting day trips to take if you hire a moto driver. I visited two nice templews and took a ride on the bamboo train.
The train is similar to the contraption I rode in Colombia to get to San Cipriano. It is essentially 2 train axels and a 8 square foot bamboo platform with a 6 hp kawasaki motor. Looks like an old lawn-mower motor.if you stall and negotiate, for a buck you can take a 20 minute ride to the next village and back. If not you can take the same ride for 3 dollars! I stalled and negotiated! Okay good fun.
Battambang was not conducive for my buddha head. I wound up watching TV because it was in my room. UUggghhhh!! What junk. What terrible junk. HBO Starmovies, CNN, BBC world. UUUGGGHHHHH! no wonder the world is mad. It is junk and I am a junkie. the only way for me to not look at it is to not have it.I found a really cool and friendly Aussie owned guest house called the bus stop. Owner Bret became my buddy. I hung out and drank Johnny Walker Red doubles on ice for only $2.00 and smoked Bob Marley cigarettes till late at night. Late at night in Battambang is 10 o'clock!! When I left EVERYTHING was closed.
Now I am in Siam Reap. This is the number one tourist destination in Cambodia. The ruins of Angkor Wat are only 10km from here, and if you want to go, this is where you stay. I went in 2004 so will not go again. I came here on my way to Phnom Penh only it isnt on the way. I came here because I wanted to take the boat to get here.
The boat takes you across the largest lake in South East Asia. All along the way is a bird sanctuary. Not too many birds in CAmbodia because the locals eat them. but there a re a lot to spot in the sanctuary. Saw lots of egrets herons and water hawks. The lake is just fabulously beautiful. There are tree tops sticking up our of it everywhere. There is all kinds of floating"islands" of vegetation un-attached to the bottom. All along the way you pass floating houses that are anchored to the bottom and otheres built on stilts. The people live a unique and fascinating life. makes me think of a silly old Kevin Costner movie called "waterworld".
So two nights and one and a half days is enough for Seam Reap unless you are going to the Ruins which I wasnt, so I am now in Phnom Penh, thriving capitol of the Kingdom of Cambodia.This city has really changed in 3 years!!
In 2004 this was a quaint provincial city. now it is buzzing at 100km per hour. taxis and tuk tuks and motos everywhere. Chaotic traffic, and yet with this incredible soft edge the the Khmer put on everything. even when they are pushy they are cool about it. I love it here. I really dig this country.
so now a few parting thoughts. Next update in two weeks.

"We are just an advanced breed of monkeys on a minor planet of a very average star. But we can understand the Universe. That makes us something very special." Stephen Hawking
"Our own life is the instrument with which we experiment with the truth." -Thich Nhat Hanh

Peace and Love,
Rambling Robert