Thursday, September 9, 2010

"Safe" journey

I'm on the move again towards Cambodia.... With over a month off between jobs I was off! The journey was great - the lack of alcohol due to Ramadan was tolerated by the fact I had 3 seats to myself all the way to Phnom Penh - on three different planes. Ahh they didn't sit me next to the "odd"person as usual! The Tune Hotel at Kuala Lumpur airport was surprisingly good and Tiger beer was fully available!

Having not got my e visa (earlier post) I got ready to brace the visa queue... I was first! Everyone else took an age to fill in the 3 forms (with the same information). My bag was the 3rd to come off the place - I wasn't ripped off my the visa people and did not need to bribe customs! I was off in my tuk tuk to town in less than 15 minutes. A personal best!

After checking into Goldie Hotel (good room with balcony) I decided that I needed a helmet for moto-ing about in safety. After a quick breakfast (The Shop on 240 - my favourite eggs.) I walked to the central market. After wandering aimlessly I managed to convey to a woman selling sun hats that yes, I did want a hat but of the hard variety for moto (motorbikes). Despite the Central market appearing to stock everything and all Cambodians now needing to have a helmet if they ride a moto she informed me that I would not get a moto helmet here but had to go to O Russei - The hard core/mother of all markets - further back into town.... I grabbed a cylco (after all no helmet = no moto - hope you are proud Mum) and headed to O Russei. Oh the heat... I started in the meat section of the market - entrails/heads and all of course, then made my way into shrimp world, cooking utensil land... tools... i fels I was getting closer - after all everything was starting to be made out of metal.... Agh! I ended up in plastic fruit mania - surrounded by plastic fruit (?!?) and glittery hairslides - things had gone badly wrong.

Electronics, dried fruit, spices, more rice than you thought existed in massive bags.... I gave up. I resisted going upstairs. If I went up the stairs I was assured it would take me 30 minutes to find the stairs to come down again. Time to ask. More miming - luckily I was rescued by a student who told me if I wanted a helmet I would need to go out of the market to the surrounding houses... Out into the baking sun... the cat call of the moto drivers. I entered into fungus land - massive mushrooms drying on the road - spices galore - I had never been to this side of the market square it seemed. Then like a mirage - motorbike street - all your moto needs in one handy location (if you know where it is that is).

Hot and sweaty I was in the first shop. I was in no mood for browsing. I found it - a silver helmet. At this point I needed to express my frustration in Khmer at these people. In extremely broken khmer I explained what i had been doing, where I had been walking and how good it was to find them. They seemed unmoved - Most likely they couldn't understand a) me or b) why I just hadn't gone to them straight away. It was motorbike street after all.

Helmet on, Moto taxi - I was off to lie down!....


Donna Kemp said...

Nice! Good to read your blog and yes I am glad you stuck to the rules and got a helmet! "Be sensible you know its better that way!" (quote from Bungle Zippy and George, Rainbow, 1987ish!Love Mum

Anonymous said...

- I wasn't ripped off my the visa people and did not need to bribe customs! Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

How on earth could you be "ripped off for your Visa? Bribing the customs officials? What would prompt you to even consider doing that?

Seems like your doing the country a bit of a disservice by portraying bribes and extortion as a common feature at Pochentong.

In any case thanks for trying to help the Cambodians

Anonymous said...

Sometimes the visa people try and sell you a business visa when you don't need one. sometimes they try and sell you a visa for a longer stay wich they do not have the power to do this. sometimes they charge you a dollar or two for a missing/not right photo...or for anything else they make up. That is how you can be ripped off - if you don't know it is wrong you can't stop it.

I have only paid $1 bribe because as I forgot a photo - this is a common practice amongst the "oficials" - better to pay $1 than to be refused entry to the country when you have forgotten your photo!