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31 December 2005

there's nothing to see here...

move along, move along

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25 December 2005

Dirty dentist equipment

Rusty pliers and all kinds

If you can see it on here, have alook at the syringe just sticking out of the bottle of anaesthetic...[shudder]

Who needs hygiene???

Who needs hygiene???

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25 December 2005

Christmas morning in Phnom Penh

First stop Orphanage, second stop dentists

So I woke up on Christmas morning at about 9am. It was a nice day, already at least 25 degrees. Had my usual noodle soup for brekkie and then went outside.

I bumped into a guy called Jim who works at the Sangkat Boeung orphanage and he was on his way there to give some Christmas wishes - we went together.

It was so nice to see the looks on the childrens' faces as we dished out the prezzies. I bought two boxes of pencils and a massive bag of oranges and Jim had brought notepads and paper too. The kids were so chuffed with the whole thing.

I was too.

Next I went back to the guesthouse all buzzed up from the kids and full of Crimbo spirit. Two of the people who work there [Kop the TukTuk driver and Lim Cheang the all round superstar helper], had been sick for the last few days from bad teeth.

I told them to get their shoes and santa hats on and I was gonna treat them to some dentistry. They insisted that we went to the cheap dentists in town so I said that's ok if they don't mind.

The dentists was literally a shack on some dirty side street with flies all over and dogs wandering around - wierd.

Anyways, Kop was in a pretty bad state and he had to have one of his back teeth pulled out [without anaesthetic] and Cheang only had a cavity so hers could be fixed with a filling.

Crazy, I told them that I would pay and they should get whatever they needed to have it sorted but Kop wouldn't have the anaesthetic cos he was afraid of infection from the needle???!

So for one extraction plus antibiotics, an anaesthetic and filling it came to the grand total of...wait for it... Fifteen U.S. Dollars.

I couldn't believe it! Later they told me that if i'd taken them to the really expensive one [which was clean and most likely professionally trained] then it would have been maybe $25 for the lot [which to them was out of the question].

So yeah, probably the most bizarre Christmas morning for me but definitely the nicest and certainly the most rewarding. Neither Kop nor Cheang could speak afterwards but I knew they were mumbling some kind of thank you's to me behind the pained expressions.

After that I had to go and was really sad but I do know that one day I will return there [I feel such a strong connection to the place].

On the way to the airport I had to stop at the ATM - the only Cash machine in the entire country no less. That's true, Cambodia only has one ATM cash machine, kept safe by two guards armed with Kalashnikov machine guns. The most fukkedup part of it is that it only dispenses U.S. Dollars!

Not surprising really after Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge abolished the monetary system altogether for over 15 years.

Oh well, Goodbye Kampuchea, hope to see you again really soon.

This will probably hurt...a lot

This will probably hurt...a lot

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24 December 2005

Kam-pu-chea

Crimbo eve...

Hello and Merry Christmas to you all.

Right now i'm in Phnom Penh and I don't want to leave - ever.

Since leaving Vietnam i've discovered that Cambodia is the most wonderous country i've ever visited. The people are so friendly and hospitable, the atmosphere of the cities/towns/countryside is marvellous and i've found a shack on the lake which I have happily called home.

Things have slowed down an awful lot now so I'm just chillen me beans and taking stock of the last month of mayhem.

I can honestly say that life has never been better for me.

Tomorrow [Crimbo day] I fly to Penang in Malaysia and spend a week with Elysia and her family at the Ong mansion [which i'm super excited for].

I've been visiting lots of really worthwile places like local orphanages and centres that run programmes to reintegrate street children into society.

The people who work there are great and they say that if I want to work or teach there then it's no problem and I can pretty much start whenever. If I didn't have other plans for Australia then to stay here would be perfect for me.

Now I know for the future...

Anyhoos, i'll fill you in on all the other stuff like Saigon, Mekong Delta and Temples of Angkor later. Right now it's 30 degrees outside and I need to top up my tan.

Oh, i'll have a mixed fruit lassi please - and a spliff - thanks.

Merry Christmas
xxx

The Shack

The Shack

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9 December 2005

Can't believe me round eyes!

Can't believe me round eyes!

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9 December 2005

Teacher & Pupil

Teacher & Pupil

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9 December 2005

Việt V ạo

Kung-Fu and my new mate L ức Thăng

The Việt V ạo is an ancient martial art that the Vietnamese people has elaborated progressively during all its history and is an integral part of its culture and soul. The history of Việt V ạo is the Vietnamese peoples history. The Việt V ạo is not only a set of fighting techniques but includes the spirit of a people who has always had to fight to keep its independence and unity.

The Việt V ạo is not only a set of fighting techniques but also a philosophy, a lifestyle faithful to the saying :

To be strong in order to be useful

I have to say, I have never been more impressed by a display of Martial Arts then from 23 year old [tour guide]Thăng. Not only did he make the form and technique of the art look so graceful and beautiful - but he did fooken 360 somersaults and ran up a tree n' that!

On the top of a mountain he gave me a lesson in self-defense and I learnt some astounding stuff. On the night, I went to his class and he gave me another lesson showing different techniques of form and movement. I learnt the 38 movements of the first form nd demonstrated to the class who were impressed overall [to see the baldy westerner performing surprisingly well].

Compared to the other Kung-Fu I saw in Hue, this form is so much more elegant and graceful - as well as being really powerful. Much of the techniques involved are based around defensive attacks - attacking either the soft spots of the body or the joints [a great idea, whacking someone in the elbow - or knee!]

Also, there are endless wrist locks, throws and nasty pressure point attacks [which is why Thăng runs a class to train both the police and the army].

...But the thing that did it for me was the acrobatic side of it. They were actually jumping over each others' heads whilst standing up! I got to see jumping headlocks with the feet, proper Tekken style somersault kicks after running up another person's chest and other stuff that I didn't even see the Shaolin Monks perform.

I was so impressed with the whole thing that i've just spent the last half an hour writing about it.

Thăng tells me that one of their Masters has been sent on a 'mission' to teach in Australia so i'm definitely gonna look it up when I get there.

All good...

Also, it was Thăng's birthday today so Happy Birthday to him! I gave him a little prezzie and he was amazingly chuffed with it - best mates forever or something.

Thăng - Crane style

Thăng - Crane style

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9 December 2005

Dalat - Central Highlands

...and then I flipped over the handlebars and landed in a coffee plantation

Super tired, me.

All good though. Yesterday I went on a 25k hike up some mountains and then to the University to watch the Volleyball exams[???]

Today I went on a 45k mountain bike trail up some different mountains and had a Kung-Fu lesson on the top.

Dalat is so strange - it's a temperate, mountainous region full of lakes and pine forests. I thought I was in sweden or Finland. so bizarre, nothing like Vietnam at all. It's even [sort of] cold. although saying that, I got proper sunburn on me baldy bonce.

The trail today was really sketchy. Some parts were just horrible uphills followed by insane downhills through muddy shit and over fallen trees. I only flew over the handlebars once but down a 30 foot drop and into a coffe plantaition. I have to say I got scratched up pretty bad but it could have been worse. The next downhill had a sheer drop about 200 feet into rocks and other nasty spikey stuff. Yay for me.

So after my spill, I managed to gore myself a couple of times on peddles and chainwheels and stuff and now my legs look like streaky bacon [the stuff from Tesco, not the cheap Asda rubbish.]

Oh, I forgot to mention the rickety suspension bridges we had to cross over a vast river that was eyeing me up as a tasty snack.

All in all pretty dodgy really and well knackering.

Good thing is, i'm still alive to tell you all about it.

My guide on both days was a 23 year old kid called Thang and it just happens that he's a local Viet Vo Dao [Vietnamese Kung-Fu] instructor.

Yay! again for me.

Insane, he was doing 360 backflips over the mountain bikes and he even ran up a tree and did a somersault.

I went to his class tonight and learned loads of kickass new stuff. The locals were impressed that I picked it up pretty quickly - but that's the way it is, innit?!

Anyhoos, done loads of exercise, feel great and now i'm off to the Annual Flower Festival to take some pics.

Laterz P'taterz

Dalat - Nowt like the rest of Vietnam

Dalat - Nowt like the rest of Vietnam

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7 December 2005

North/South Central Coast

Eastern Monsoon rainy n' no nistake

Bah!

All I want is to go to the beach but alas my plans are thwarted by the Eastern Monsoon here in Vietnam.

I mean, the cheek of it - do they not know who I am?

Sheesh!

Anyways, I went to Hoi An which was a nice little town where all the tailors live. The only thing is that it's full of dirty tourists [I couldn't handle all the blonde hair and pasty skin]. I gots me a nice linen suit made to measure and for the meagre price of $40!

It's great - I got diamond encrusted pockets, flashing neon stitching and unicorn fur lining - a real beaut!

then I had to take a 12 hour bus to Nha Trang - Vietnam's premiere beach location - Yay!

More like a really big dirty puddle that someone pissed in.

Well I sat next to some old Vietnamese woman on the bus who insisted on telling me stories about her ex-husband - at the top of her voice. It was good because everybody else on the bus was getting pissed off and that made me laugh [cos they were only americans and Australians - ha!].

then yeah, got to Nha Trang at 6.30am to torrential rain and gale force winds. The 'pristine white beach' looked more like a dirty skid mark and the 'emerald waters' were reminiscent to a giant cup of cold tea that someone left the teabag in for too long.

Largely unimpressed, I just got back on the bus for another six hours to Dalat which is in the Central highlands. Really nice if it wasn't for the need for woolly hats and fleecy jackets all round.

It's that good that I haven't even taken a photograph for the last 4 days! [that's why i've attached some pic I nicked off the interweb]

Mountain biking and hill walking for me though in the next few days so that should brigten up my mood.

That's if I don't get blown away on the way back to my hotel room - if you can call it a hotel, more like a scruffy shed from B&Q stuck together with second rate made in China bootleg Sellotape and with a really sedate old man sucking his gums sat in the doorway who just nods at every question I ask him, regardless of what I want to know.

Apart from that, this place is amazing and i'm having the best time ever!

Can't wait for the annual flower festival to start - although I have to wait two days for that.

I wonder if they sell Morphine in that chemist over the road?

Oh well see you later, maybe.

Bastads.

Nowt like this!

Nowt like this!

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5 December 2005

Mysa & Frederik

...Just hanging out at some 4th Century temples

Hello to Riviera F's great friend Mysa and her man Frederik who I happened upon at 'My Son' 4th Century Champa temples.

Although they were being eaten alive by mosquitoes and were melting in the tropical heat, they still managed to pull off the 'Riviera Look' and had no trouble 'Posing for the Camera.'

Strangely enough, they're following a similar route to me so I may very well bump into them again in the not too distant future [hopefully].

Yay!

So Good Luck and Hooray for Mysa and Frederik in Asia!

xxx

Do I know you from somewhere???

Do I know you from somewhere???

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3 December 2005

Hue

Hot springs, Kung-Fu and folk songs

Hue has been a bit of a doss for me.

Another overnight train and I arrive in town to torrential tropical rain.

Nice

First thing I did was go to a geothermal spa on the outskirts of town. It's great, $4 and you get a motobike to take you there and bring you back whenever you're done. I spent about two hours in this amazing outdoor hot tub while the rain was pouring on me freshly shaven bonce - lovely.

Then I got my complimentary 20 minute massage from Dr. Sihn, the on site chiropractor. This is the life for me.

Next was a dragonboat on the river in the night and a performance of Traditional Vietnamese folk singing by four beautiful women accompanied by some of the most amazing music played on some really bizarre string instruments. So good that I went back the following night and so good that i'm going back again tonight. It cost $1.50 for a two hour performance and then at the end you get to float Lotus leaf candles on the river.

Amazing. Also, it's a local thing that only happens in Hue and luckily for me, only local people go to see it.

Yesterday I went on a boat tour of the Perfume river with stops at the Royal Tombs of the former Emperors. Again, amazing.

I got talking to an American woman who was up to date on the knowledge of the tombes so I got edumacated as we trekked about. There was one tomb we stopped at which apparently was a bit rubbish so as all the other 'tourists' paid stupid amounts of money to see it, we decided to go for a walk in the village and stumbled across a school.

I just walked straight in and into the classroom and the kids went nuts. The teacher came to greet us and said it was very nice for the kids to actually get contact with foreigners. We asked if we could help with the English class.

So me and Amy [the american] got up in front of the class and gave an impromptu English lesson, talking to the kids and letting them ask us questions and helping them to write on the board and letting them sing for us.

The children were so nice and they obviously enjoyed the whole thing as much as we did. The teacher was so grateful that we did what we did and as we were leaving I got that tingly feeling that comes with such priceless experiences. Regardless of the sights i've seen and the mad shit i've done, this has to be the most rewarding experience so far for me.

When I got back to the hotel, the guy who runs the place was taking his little brother to Kung-Fu class and I went with them.

Yay! I got to train with the adult group and I even got to spar with them. Needless to say they were all super proficent and uber flexible - putting me to shame. It's embarrasing when 90% of the class can do the full splits and side kicks at 180 degrees.

Although it's a different discipline to TaeKwon-Do, I coped pretty well although they train outside on the concrete floor and as well as making you kneel in the Seiza position for 5-6 minutes straight, they kick pretty hard when sparring, too. They don't wear pads as we do in England and as such, I have a few lumps and bruises.

Worthwhile though just for the opportunity.

I'm going to Hoi An next and then Nha Trang to the beach so bye for now and see you then.

Back to Skool

Back to Skool

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