Sunday, August 20, 2006

Exploring the surrounding area

We rented motorcycles today to go to a near by village. The traffic here is worse than in Viet Nam. For those that haven't read about my traffic comments in Viet Nam, plainly put there are no rules - you just go with the flow. There are a lot more cars here, making that more difficult.

We had no idea where the village was, and we would constantly stop to ask for directions. It's lucky for me that Kheang speaks Cambodian. Still we managed to miss our turn by about eight kilometers. There's little accuracy here for distance. Depending on who you ask a place could be anywhere from three to ten kilometers away. Their estimates can be pretty funny. The best is to ask for landmarks. We were told our turn was three "wats" (temples) down. There we caught a ferry over to the island on which the village was located. Going through the village we encountered monks collecting alms. I took their picture and was going to contribute some money but they took off pretty quickly as they were running late for dinner.

The entire village is dedicated to weaving, and they're quite eager to take you to their shop. This lady in the picture met us on the ferry and insisted that we see her shop, even though we told her five times that we weren't going to buy anything. Still she said she had to at least get us to come over. She had lots of nice scarfs, one that's hanging around my neck, but I had no use for it. She suggested I get one for my girlfriend. I told her when I get a girlfriend I'll make sure to bring her to Cambodia for some silk scarfs and blankets. I asked her if I could get a photo with her as to let my friends know who to go to if they need anything silk.

We spent some time looking around the village and interacting with the locals. The best was a mob of children, at first quite shy, who were intrigued by our digital cameras. They had a blast looking at photos of themselves after we (Kheang for the most part) had taken them.

We headed back to Phnom Penh and I got a flat tire. That was an experience. Going over a long bridge my motorcycle started to wobble and I looked back to see the back tire completely flat. Kheang suggested that we back track and look for a place to repair it. As coincidence would have it, there was a place to repair flat tires just where we started to cross the bridge. Thirty minutes and four patched holes later, we were back on our way.

A street named after Yugoslavia?

Back in Phnom Penh, in front of our hotel there is a map of the city. Looking at it I noticed a street called "Josep Broz Tito Yougoslavie." The spelling was a little off, but it's obvious what it's named after. I thought it was funny and asked a nearby tuk tuk driver how long it's been called that. He said as long as he can remember. Apparently Yugoslavia used to have a big embassy here, and helped out the government. I don't think there's any embassy here now. We walked down to the street just for kicks. I thought it would be just like all the other streets, dirty and unmaintained, but surprisingly it was one of the nicer streets in Phnom Penh.

No comments: