October 10, 2010
Since my last post I have been trying to rest, I’ve been spending time with friends who have been helping me to laugh more. This has helped me more than I could have ever imagined and has allowed me to dive back into my work.
A local woman told us the only way in to the shanty town was to wade through the filthy water and sewage. She warned that it wouldn’t’ be good for us as the water causes skin problems, itching and illness. SP looked at me and asked what I wanted like to do. I kinda figured we had come this far, plus the residents here had no choice but to live like this every day, the least i could do is experience just a little of what they have to endure.
We rolled up our trousers and started to wade through the foul water. In places the water was up to my knees, however had it been raining it would easily have been waist high. I was thankful for the clear skies.
As we entered the shanty town we where greeted by residents who where clearly surprised to see this long haired tattooed white man making his way through the sewage. The people here where of the friendliest I have met, I was half expecting constant begging, but none of them did. SP said that the people in this town where very proud people and would do anything instead of beg for money. Many would make small recycled toys, or collect snails from the fields to sell. We where invited into homes to meet the families.
Every time we met people the story was the same, they had skin problems, rashes, hives, insect bites and worms. Illness was extremely common due to the filthy conditions and lack of sanitation. I could hear myself repeating the same thing over and over “this is not right”, “how can people live like this”.
The truth is, seeing people like this, these men, women and children. Seeing them forced to live in conditions you wouldn’t place an animals in, well it was very emotional to say the least. I wanted to cry, I wanted all of the feeling surging through my body to be out in the open. The problem was I could’t, I was unable too cry. I felt as though I was looking through someones else’s eyes, like it wasn’t quite real, if only that was true. I knew it was real, it was more real than anything I had seen before, I just couldn’t comprehend what I was seeing.
We continued through the town, stopping constantly and speaking to the people we met. The parents would show us the cuts and infections on their children, they would explain about the water levels and lack of sanitation, they explained about the illnesses and the fact that there weren’t any doctors or hospital nearby.
I dont think my photos will ever be able to truly show the unbelievable horror of the situation here. The smile’s and kindness of the people make you almost forget where you are. Here in this place is a community struggling simply to survive, any pre-conceptions I may have had where completely blown away.
In one home I met a woman feeding her infant child, they where approximately a foot from the contaminated water all around them. They had to sit on their beds as the water was constantly inside of their home.
I asked one of the men what they did when the water rose. He told me very casually that all of the family had to sleep in the bed that was the highest off the ground and pointed to a small bed an extra couple of feet higher.
As we continued wading through the town we came upon a sewage pipe than ran through with homes on either side. There was no sanitation here though as the pipe was open, and what ever used to flow through it was now a part of homes and play area’s of the children. The residents used the pipe to stay above the water level where possible.
The people here are truly in need of help. They where so happy to see me, they asked for nothing, except that I take lots of photos and show others. They simply want more people to visit their homes in the hope that it will bring about change.
I have decided to postpone my trip to the golden triangle so that I can spend some more time with the people here. I wish to find out what organisations are in the area and how they are helping. If any one reading this would like to donate then I will provide details of the NGO’s (none government organisations that try and support these people). I only wish there was more that I could do.
After being in this place I felt so much sadness, I knew I had pull myself away from these feeling otherwise my emotions could quite easily consume me. SP told me it is was Pchum Ben Festival in Cambodia and everyone in the city would be heading back to their villages to be with family. He said he was leaving tonight for the 2 hour bike trip to his small village and if I wanted I was welcome to come and stay with his family. Of course I agreed immediately, as I had instant trust and respect for SP and I know we will continue to be friends. (details of this trip will be in my next blog).
For now, wishing you all peace & love always,
September 5, 2010
August 30, 2010
So its Monday, I’ve been trying not to think at all. Today I visited a family who want to give their children away as they can’t afford to keep them. When we got their the boyfriend was passed out on the floor drunk.
Now its very easy to judge, but what I saw was a man who was broken, completely lost, a poor soul who didn’t know what else to do. I can empathize with that.
But I can’t show pictures of this visit as there are rules and procedures to protect the families, which of course is understandable. Only this is not the journey I want to take… I want to share everything I see and experience.
So I’ve come to a decision, and I have kind of rough plan, well as long as anything else doesn’t present its self. I realize now that the only way to truly find myself is to first completely loose myself. I’ve decided to ride my bike north, through Vietnam, China and onto Mongolia. The rough plan is to find the Shamanistic Mongolian tribes and spend time with them. It seems as good a plan as any for getting up in the morning.
I don’t want any of these tours you can do, no, I will simply rely upon the the human word, communication with people I meet and just head in a direction. I want to be asking my self each day “will I make it through today, why did I do this, where on earth am I?” I need to feel like every day could be my last, i need to feel alive. If I don’t then what’s the point of taking this journey.
To change your life, you have to do something life changing.
I will of course finish my work at SSF, then start the next part of my journey. I just need to find a reason for living. The search continues….
Peace & love
August 28, 2010
Well the past week has been a struggle for me, I guess I’d lost sight of my path, in fact I had completely lost my path. I was looking at those safe alternatives, still conforming to that belief system I had worked so hard to escape.
August 23, 2010
Well I don’t know whats going on in my head right now, where is all of this noise coming from. Maybe i’m just struggling because I haven’t established any sort of routine. Or maybe i’ve just lived alone for so long that I need to cling onto a feeling of freedom, reminding myself that I am responsible for exactly where I am now.
I really don’t know where my feelings come from, all I can do is follow them and do what I feel is right at that moment in time. Of course I often wish I could change my decisions, but where did wishing ever get anyone. I try and remind myself that its all part of my experience, my perception and understanding of perception that creates and binds, emotions to actions, installing routines and subroutines into my subconscious mind. I definitely think too much…..
I need to reconnect to that peace, I need balance in myself again.
Peace & love
August 16, 2010
Thought I had best update my blog, I went to the SOS hospital in Phnom Penh, its an excellent hospital with English speaking and Khmer speaking doctors. I found the hospital to be clean and professional looking, the staff to be friendly, offering me tea and coffee (which I declined) then making sure I had a bed to lay in while I awaited my results. My doctor was Dr Reid from Australia, she made sure I was comfortable and then asked me what had happened. I explained the drama that unfolded the previous night, she nodded a lot then asked my permission to poke and generally examine me. After taking a lot of test taking, I was directed back to my bed to relax while I awaited my results.
I admit I fell asleep again, I’ve been sleeping constantly lately, with no energy at all. It was maybe an hour later when I finally got my results, I was checked on constantly though throughout this time.
The results showed that I have an infection which was restricting my breathing and thus causing me pain. I was given the option of either another dip or I could orally take medication. I decided to take the tablets, I’d had enough needles in me for one week. I was promptly provided with all the medication I needed and went to the cashier desk to pay (you didn’t expect this too be free did you). I was surprised that my bill was only $150.
If your in PP and you do become ill then I highly recommend going to the SOS clinic rather than any of the other local ones. Im not saying they where bad or anything, I just found the SOS clinic to be more familiar, this helps a lot when you’re not feeling at your best.
Now i’m in my hotel room, I’ve haven’t left it at all, I’ve barricaded myself in and Im simply resting. I purchased a couple of films to watch and also some healthy food form the supermarket. I will rest one more day before riding back to SSF. I still get tired pretty quickly at the moment and its an hours ride to do in pretty busy traffic. Don’t really want to face that when I feel like this.
I am very grateful for the experience I’ve had here in PP and believe that its helped me to look at things in a new light. There are so many people out here who don’t have access to the doctors or medication. Women, children, young, old all of them with an equal right to be here yet unable to have the same benefits as most of us take for granted. Why is that? it’s so easy not to see or even consider as the media doesn’t really report it.
To me its very sad that a little bit of paper is the arbiter between the rich and the poor, it doesn’t discriminate at all yet it can take’s away our natural human instinct to help others. We are not different we’ve simply adapted to our environments thats all. With all of this technology and science we should be able to help, protect and grow as a species. Yet we destroy, kill and regress ourselves and the very environment that provides us with life. I have no doubt that we will adapt, but its what we’re going to have to adapt to.
I guess we need the balance though, we need to see what we’re doing to know thats its not right. Change starts from within, and when we realise that every one of us can do the most amazing things and feel good about it, then maybe things will start to change. Ok i’ve rambled on enough, I’ve been thinking out loud while typing again.
peace & love and smiles
August 15, 2010
Im am writing todays blog on Sunday the 15/08/2010, it will soon become clear as to why.
Once the rain had stopped I got a Tuc-Tuc to lakeside where I was meeting Tory. I really didn’t like Lakeside at all, It was very westernised and I cringed at every bar I looked at. When Tory arrived I suggested that we leave and go to the river-front instead. We sat for a drink and chatted. (Tory was catching a bus to Vietnam that night so we only had a few hours), during our conversation I discovered Tory was a student of philosophy. Philosophy is something that I study and hold in high regard, as a tool to help me understand my journey and path. We got on so well that Tory agreed to get the bus to Vietnam the next day, allowing us to chat into the night.
I believe there is a reason for all things, you simply have to know it. Sometime you meet a complete stranger at a time that you really need it in your life, Tory was that stranger. We shared stories, life experiences and our own perception of the world. In doing so she helped me to re-attach to my core belief system and my reason for life. A truly amazing friend who I will keep in contact with.
The next day I called my friend Sovann to make arrangements to get Tory on her bus to Vietnam. Once done, my next mission was to find an aromatherapy shop, pickup some natural oils to assist in preventing insect bites. Now this is where things start to go a little funky!
I had just gone back to the hotel to quickly collect my camera, on my way down stairs I had a sudden pain in my abdomen and left side of my chest. It was agony but quickly subsided, I decided not to make a big deal of it and jumped in Sovann’s Tuc-Tuc and head to the shops (and of course take some photos). We had gone only a few streets when I got the same pain again, however it was getting worse. I immediately asked Sovann to take me back to the hotel so I could lie down, this was maybe about 14:00.
While in my room I started to get excruciation pain, It wasn’t a good sign, but I believe in fate and a reason for all things.
I woke constantly through the day and night in pain, finally at 22:00 it had become so bad the breathing was difficult and I was feeling dizzy. The truth is, the thought had gone through my head that this could be it, however I wasn’t afraid nor was I really worried, I was however in a lot of pain. I made the decision to contact Sovann again, he came straight over and too me to a local clinic.
As soon as I got to the clinic I explained the best i could what was wrong, it was difficult now as I was gasping for breath. They immediately put me on a drip, pushed needles in my arm, abdomen, groin, took blood, and pumped drugs into me. (this continued the entire night).
Things got a lot worse through-out the night. While rolling around in agony, I asked Sovann to pass me my camera. I decided that my blog was to be about my complete experience, this is something that I had to share. All of us have weaknesses because all of us are fragile humans, we try and project strength all the time and feel as though our weaknesses should be hidden (i refuse to believe this) this was my opportunity show another side of me, and to me this is the most important thing in my life.
I apologise in advance for the poor quality of photos taken.
I stayed at the clinic until about 15:00 today, i have now checked myself out. I am sill in pain but its not as intense, I am planing on heading to another hospital tonight, but its important for me to update my blog. It cost me approximately $350 at the clinic I was at. What about all these people who don’t have money?
To my friends I say don’t worry about me, you know I am responsible for my actions, I live my life free, without fear but with love and peace in my heart. I am truly thankful for the experiences I have i life.
Update as of 21:00
I will visit an english speaking doctor tomorrow, i must sleep now, i’m tired and ache.
August 11, 2010
I woke early again this morning, I was awake before my alarm, I laid there waiting for the invertible. A few moments later the alarm started screaming like a demented child “GET UP GET UP GET UP GET UP GET UP”. It was 0600, I was groggy tired and bleary eyed, I managed to drag myself from my slumber and into the shower, the water was cold but refreshing I was instantly awake. After yesterdays trip I was clinging desperately to the idea of a finding a little bit of tranquility where I could make sense of my thoughts.
There would be no stopping me today, there would be no distractions, I would head straight to Kep, locate a boat and onto my final destination of Rabbit island.
The bike was loaded, my route set, and above all I had and uncompromising determination re-gain my clarity. I climbed onto the bike, started the engine and rode off with a clear goal, nothing could sway me from my course.
Approximately 300 meters down the road I deciding it was wise to have breakfast first (when you’ve gotta eat you’ve gotta eat). I found a place about, well 300 meters away from the guest house. I say I found a place, what I really mean is I just stopped the bike and sat at the first place that had food, it was actually a nice little place by the water front serving muesli and yogurt. (Once I was fed and watered, I would then have determination mentioned earlier).
I was now ready to continue my journey to the island retreat, nothing and I mean nothing could stop me. 20 minutes later and now on my 3rd stop to take photos, I was approached by three local boys who where clearly interested in what this long haired, bedraggled foreigner was up too. They where extremely friendly and their english was impeccable. They where interested in my pictures and asked me to take their photo. I kindly obliged and gave them my email address so that they could contact me for a copy.
Finally after only 2 more stops, I made it to the town of Kep, I managed to organise a boat, I even managed to arrange secure parking of my bike in the form of paying a police officer to look after it for only 2000 riel (about 30 pence). It was still early in the morning, maybe about 0830, I had finally arrived at Rabbit Island. There where a few huts that could be rented for about $5 a night, however these weren’t for me. It not that I wanted to be cheap, I simply wanted to be that little bit closer to nature. I was only on the island for one night, I wasn’t there to explore, I just needed to get my thoughts together. I found a nice quiet area between two coconut trees and set-up my hennessy hammock facing the sea. I then decided to wander around the the island so that I could be alone with my thoughts.
The weather was nice throughout the majority of the day allowing me to relax and mediate. I didn’t really want to be around other people at that point in time, I just needed to get my thoughts in order, or maybe it was just a case of not having any thoughts for a while. Later in the evening the wind started to pick up, I decided to go for dinner at one of the local restaurants provided by the islanders.
The weather started to deteriorate throughout the rest of the evening. Every one on the island took shelter in the restaurant buildings. I guess my head still wasn’t in any place to sociable so I decided to just connect with nature.
After feeling the forces of nature for a while I decided to wanter around to a sheltered cove just around the island. While writing this i’m reminded of the writings of the Tao Teh Ching, if something as powerful as a storm cant last forever then maybe there was still hope for me in this life.
I watched the boat owners in the sheltered bay for a while, before deciding to go back to my hammock to ride out the rest of the storm. I was laid in my hammock enjoying being alone and experiencing the wonders of nature, when a group of french travellers approached my hammock. They kindly invited me over to the restaurant for a beer and a smoke. Always in conflict with myself, part of me wanted to be alone, and the other part wanted to be with other. I eventually decided to join them, I had been in my head for long enough. We chatted and laughed into the night for a good 4 hours or so, eventually I wished them all good night and return back to my hammock, the storm had really picked up by this point, I knew the hammock could handle it, my only issue really was the probability of coconuts falling form the trees onto me. I decided it was not worth thinking about, climbed into my sleeping bag and fell asleep.
I didn’t find what I was looking for on Rabbit Island, but then again i’m not sure I really expected to. The journey there was a far greater learning experience than the ultimate destination, maybe that’s the whole point, who knows? I guess all I can really do is set a goal a purpose, something to merely aim at, and always try and remember that achieving it is not really the point, its the journey that matters.
August 10, 2010
I woke pretty early this morning 06:00, I had a quick breakfast in the Okay restaurant, showered then packed my bags. I was going to meet Sovann for lunch, get a few supplies then head off towards Kampot.
I met Sovann at the Russian Market, a vibrant energetic place with plenty going on. When you’re here get used to haggling, but don’t take it too seriously, remember that in many cases these people are simply trying to survive.
After buying a couple of bags at the russian market, we went for lunch at a cafe called Jacobs Wall (They serve apple pie here).
This is a lovely place to eat and even get a hot cappuccino due to the amazing air con. Did I mention they serve apple pie?
After lunch Sovann assisted me in getting additional supplies for my trip, (things like tools for the bike etc). While we where riding around PP we happened to pass an extremely interesting structure, I had to stop and take a photo. I plan to go back here, maybe spend the day shooting, speak to the people who live here and simply find out a little more about the place.
After all supplies had been found I dropped Sovann back off at his home and said good-by. I set-off to find national road number 3, and start my journey to Kampot, my mission to deliver a message in my care to its recipient at the Honey Bar. It didn’t take long to find national road number 3, although I wouldn’t really call it a road, more a work in progress.
The road started off as a dirt road, then progressed through to rough loose chipping’s (this is pretty hairy when your travelling on two wheels), back to dirt and pot holes again and then progressing to large 40ft drops, created by unfinished bridges. There was of course some safety provision in the form of diversion signs, these where hand drawn arrows pointing in a direction away from the edge of the aforementioned unfinished bridge.
Travelling this road was slow going, as well as the poor condition, I also had the added benefit of the billowing clouds of dust created by a constant flow of heavy construction vehicle’s. I decided I would do the minimal amount of stops possible as I had a fair distance to travel. This however proved to be pretty difficult, as although it was rough going, and although the dust was hurting my lungs and eyes, it was still one of the most breath taking landscapes I had ever seen.
I was trying my hardest not to stop, but would constantly come across something that I either wanted to take a photo of, or just wanted to sit for a while and look at. I came across this building and decided that it would be my last stop, I would take a quick photo then ride all the way to Kampot.
Now the picture it’s self is pretty uninteresting and one I would normally just throw away. Its what happen next that took me completely by surprise. I had literally taken out my camera, took a shot and immediately thought “that’s a bit naff”, and proceeded to pack my camera away. I had zipped up the camera bag when I heard a kind of skidding sound followed by a crunching noise directly in front of me. Two girls riding a scooter had lost grip on the loose gravel and hit the road just a few meters ahead of me. I instantly ran over to where they where. Their bike had taken the majority of the impact but both of them where grazed and cut pretty badly from sliding along the gravel. I managed to get both of them over too my bike were I had a medical kit. By this time local villagers had also arrived over to see what had happened. None of the locals had any medical supplies so I patched both the girls up as best I could, cleaning the blood and grit from their wounds and treating them with an antiseptic cream before putting bandages on them. I gave them the rest of my medical kit and my remaining water before another scooter arrived to take them away. I had done all I could here. I was thanked by the local villagers before jumping back on my bike and continue my journey. I was now well behind time and loosing light quickly.
The light had almost gone now and I still had a long way too go, I couldn’t afford any more stops.
Too late, the light had now completely vanished, I was left riding in the pitch black, over loose gravel, pot holes, with dust, oncoming heavy vehicle’s, bridges which dropped off into rivers and pits, people occasionally simply appearing out of the darkness in the middle of the road, and now a new little twist. It seemed that every single insect in Cambodia had heard about my journey, and thought it appropriate to face slam me attracted by the headlight on my bike. (oh i nearly forgot, I didn’t have a visor either).
On several occasions the bike went from under me, I some how managed to correct it preventing it from going over. I was also forced into the edge of the trees a couple of times by oncoming trucks, but again managed to miraculously coax the bike back to the road. I continued like this for the next 2 hours, tired, sore, without water and with no real idea of where I was going except forward into the darkness. The only thing preventing me from finding some where to pitch my hammock was the though of delivering my message to its recipient and of course an ice cold beer.
Soon though salvation, I had some how made it the rest of the way to Kampot
After searching for about 30mins I finally found the Cosie Elephant guest house. I checked in, had a quick shower and made my way to the Honey Pot bar to deliver the message in my care. Ok I would deliver it after my first pint, (which went down in under 5 seconds). Sadly the recipient of the message wasn’t there, so I wrote it down and left it for her. I then had some food a couple more pints and retired to my bed. Today was a good day for being alive, I now wondered what tomorrow would bring.
August 10, 2010
04/08/2010 @21:45 (in Okay guest house)
Well things where pretty bad for me today, Im currently writing in my journal, with the intent of placing these thoughts directly into my blog. Today I had such a low, I felt depressed, hopeless and irritable, I felt so bad that I couldn’t interact completely with the children. They where amazing though, their smiles and laughs really helped me get through the day. I let Vichetr know how I was feeling, he was very understanding, (I really didn’t want to let anyone down). He told me he had sent the children home to plant rice with their parents, and I could take time off until Monday. I didn’t realised i had not been sleeping very well, maybe a few hours each night, what I needed was to just get away and reconnect with my self again.
Okay Guest House
(0)12 300 804
The guest house is very friendly and has great reviews from lots of travellers. My room cost me $7 with a fan and a TV. I requested a room on the top floor so I would have views over the city, and maybe a wee smoke before bed.
Once I had somewhere to sleep my next goal was to locate food. I didn’t really want to head out into PP, I was tired and it was getting close to 20:00 (I know not late, but remember I had not been sleeping that well) plus I wanted to get up early to pick-up supplies, and decide where on earth I was actually going to go. I made the easy decision to eat in the Okay restaurant. The food was good with a decent choice of options, both local food and western.
While in the restaurant I got chatting to a young guy from Switzerland. He lived in Cambodia and worked on a boat that took tourists to Vietnam. As we chatted it was clear that he was broken hearted, we chatted for just over an hour. During the conversation he mentioned a place called Rabbit island near to the town of Kep. He informed me that if it was seclusion and solitary that I was looking for, then I would find it on place called Rabbit island. As I expressed a keen interest he gave me the directions, he also said that if I took national road 3 then I would pass through the town of Kampot (a coastal town where his ex-girlfriends sister had a guest house and bar). As i was saying good night he kindly asked that if I did go through Kampot, then if I could pass on a message for him. I figured this was as good a reason as any to go there and asked him for the message. With that I retired to my room.
I showered, phoned my friends Ali and Dave in the UK, (just to let them know i was still alive), turned on the TV and laid on my bed to write my journal (which brings us to pretty much where we are now).
(Oh quick note, if your in cambodia then get to know a local who can get you a sim card for your mobile phone. It is so much cheaper to call overseas using a local card. I got a $5 card at the start of the month and still have $2.5 on it. I’ve made a few overseas calls and loads of local ones).
While writing I thought it would be a good idea to listen to a Khmer channel on the TV, just hearing the sounds seems to help me learn. Too my surprise Im finding it hard to locate a channel in Khmer. There are about 20 or so channels in all, and I’ve found about three in Khmer. There’s lots of english and Mandarin but thats about it. The three channels that are in Khmer are saturated with the mindless brain washing adverts for products that just aren’t needed. If you buy this you will be a better person, this will make your life better, look at these celebrates they are better than you, you can try and be like them if you buy this though. I find it atrocious that a country which has been physically destroyed is now in my opinion being socially destroyed as well. How many times has history shown countries and culture destroyed first through war and now through globalisation. Apologies rant is over….
peace & love dx