domenica 4 agosto 2013

Mad Monkey Business

Hello everyone!

First of all i would like to apologize for my rusty English... I speak it all the time but when it comes to writing I don’t practice as much as I’d like to… luckily Google always comes readily to the rescue, so  with its autocorrect feature at least the orthographic mistakes should be taken care of…
I ended my last post with my arrival at Phnom Penh International Airport… so I’ll pick up from there…  After the usual bureaucratic border control and having picked up my luggage, I went for the airport exit, where I was greeted by Sea, a local employee of Shallow Waters responsible for managing arrivals, transfers and helping the arriving volunteers with whatever they might need… from food to local SIM cards… I must Say that without him I would probably still trying to get a lift from the airport to the hostel, so three cheers for Sea!

We waited a half hour for another volunteer to arrive and then we all hopped on a “Remork” (also known as “Tuk Tuk”), which is a motorbike pulling a sort of 4 person chinese-ish looking wagon.  A death trap to say the least… especially after seeing the consideration that Cambodians have for road code.
Anyhow… after a quick 15 minute ride we got to the Mad Monkey Guesthouse:  a wonderful, perfectly kept, western style hostel in the middle of Phnom Penh… Apart from being huge (4 double rooms and 6-8 dorms, each with 6-12 beds), it was incredibly well organized and very nicely decorated. From what I saw in that single night that I stayed there, the owners offered free accommodation to anyone who felt artist enough to paint a mural on one of their walls… and apparently the system works!
After having dropped off our bags we quickly went out to grab a bite… I was craving for something typical and strange so Sea took us to eat something from one of the million street vendors present at every corner of the road… Since I wanted something strange, the menu offered the following: Duck foetus (still in the egg), sun dried Sting Ray, and freshwater snails… everything soaked with the typical spicy sauce filled with garlic and lime. My opinion on all three dishes was: good, alternative, very interesting, but without any particular taste… especially since everything was masked by the super strong taste of the spicy garlic sauce…
After dinner we went back to the hostel and crashed in bed.

The next morning I woke up relatively early (8ish) to enjoy a really wonderful fruit based breakfast: mixed fruit bowl, white yoghurt, passion fruit smoothie and freshly squeezed orange juice… heavenly.
The program for that day was quite simple: wait for the bus to pick us up at the hostel and enjoy a 5 and a half hour drive to Sinahoukville a medium sized town on the southern coast of Cambodia. What a nightmare, some might think… instead, the trip was wonderful!  Much better than any similar trip I ever did in Europe, Brazil or anywhere else…  The minibus was big enough for 18 people, driver included, and fully equipped with TV, DVD player and on board Wi-Fi…. the bus of my dreams!  If only they used something like this back in the “civilized world”… and for a mare 10$...

Anyhow… after watching “Step Up Revolutions” , “007-Skyfall” and the first part of “The Hobbit” we finally arrived to our destination, where we were readily greeted by the creator of the project: Luca…  yes, Luca.. another Italian almost ashamed of his nationality, just as myself, who caught the first opportunity he had to run away from Italy, study in Cambridge and then start up this wonderful Project. He gave us a quick briefing of what we were going to do in the next few weeks while sipping a nice fresh fruit shake and soon after we were headed to the Dive Centre House, where we would have spent the night… but by the time we got on the pickup… it started pouring out of nowhere! A classic summer storm, they called it… and what a storm! We got completely soaked in no time.
The rest of the evening was pretty calm… a nice shower to freshen up, a normal dinner with chicken soup and sandwiches… and a stroll down the main road, passing in front of a million super cheap massage centres (15$ for a 2 hour full body massage) ending up on the seaside, on Serendipity Beach. After another 20minutes of summer storm we caught the first tuk tuk we could find and headed home…

The next day we set off for the island of Koh Rong Sanolem, to the EcoSea Dive Centre and Resort… but that’s another story…