TUK TUKS AND TRAVEL DAYS

The rain had stopped for a few days the Kampot river glistened in the sun , children saying hello to me ,the puppies thriving they are little fatties and mother is so good with them but I had to say farewell to all the dogs, the river and my friends old and new as it was end of my visa so here I am in Bangkok.

My son and his girlfriend (Ben & Bec) arrived on Friday, I took them for dinner , sounds very generous of me I know but a pizza , a starter of Guacamole and a few beers only came to $15 US . I then took them to my friends floating bar the Green Boat , such an iconic boat , we had a few beers well I had one bourbon and watched the lights of Kampot all razzle dazzle at night as all boats are lit up as well as the bridges. Ben and Bec wanted to go to Kep as did I so I met them the next day and we hired a tuk tuk to take us the 30 minute drive, we wanted an open style tuk tuk so we could see everything and feel the wind in our hair. In Cambodia at the moment they are widening the road all the way from Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville which passes Kampot. Now to start with it was a windy warm day, that means dust, and a lot of it, a lot of the householders along the way were watering the road in front of their homes to stop the dust, you wouldn’t be able to hang your washing out that’s for sure. After many bumps, potholes in the road we made it onto the last bit of sealed road for the most calm 5 minutes of the trip. We stopped at the famous Kep Crab market, the sea comes right up to the edges of the market, fisherwomen throw the crab pots out then drag them in with crabs in them , amazing, you can buy a crab then take it too a cooking stall and they will cook it for you, we didn’t bother but there was so many fish stalls, prawns hustle and bustle, a great experience. We had hired our tuk tuk driver for a few hours , $25 US for the time. He then took us further along the coast , I saw my first glimpse of a monkey in 7 months!! Arriving at the coast I saw what my friends had told me , families upon families set up a position on the boardwalk they had big mats and tarps to cover their area a lot had feasts of crabs they had no doubt bought at the market, karaoke machines being set up for the nights fun, children played on the sand and in the sea , walking along the fore shore on the road you can see glimpses at once were the holiday homes of the French merchants and bureaucrats all a pile of rubble now during the civil war these homes were destroyed by the Kmer rouge and stripped of valuables by the retreating Vietnamese. With the burgeoning tourist industry in Cambodia Kep may once again become the Riviera of the east and these fabulous seaside mansions may be resurrected , probably to the detriment of all the happy local families enjoying their weekends by the seaside. On our journey back we saw the infamous crab in the sea, my photo was not good sorry, and the white lady waiting for her fisherman husband to return from the seas, the people in my photo are Ben &Bec. So we headed home , already my hair was full of dust, sand and seabreeze, so more dust was added to the mix but as we neared the outskirts of Kampot a gravel truck had just dumped about 10 cms of stones causing our tuktuk to get bogged in the gravel so we got out and pushed the tuk tuk out of this predicament, luckily we are all country folk and used to pushing broken down vehicles , we jumped back in the poor driver and passengers, well we couldn’t take any more so he said he would take us through the salt fields to get into Kampot the back way. The salt fields were visible but salt is only harvested in the dry season however you could feel the salt in the air and it wasn’t long until we could taste it not to mention it coating my hair. We eventually arrived back and headed straight to the Green Boat to watch the fishing fleet head out to sea, after I took them to have my favourite dumpling soup then they walked me home met the puppies , I finally looked in the mirror, wow what a fright I was I almost had dreadlocks and my face had been exfoliated as well as wind burnt and salt encrusted but what a great adventure to have with my son and Bec. The water in Kampot is hard water so even after washing my hair with lots of conditioner it still looked and felt like it was full of dust!!!The weather was blissful , when we met for lunch the next day my friend and mine host of the Green Boat Tim saw us and said he was going to a friends place up the river would we like to come so we jumped into his Tuk tuk and went to this great place a backpackers hostel on the river you can sit in big comfy chairs chill out and listen to great music watching the river rush by, I could see my son loved it so they ended up booking in there for their last few nights 7 dollars US a night. I think they fly back to Melbourne on Friday. So I said goodbye to my boy and Bec, it had been fun meeting in a exotic yet dusty location and we had made some excellent memories.

Early Monday I boarded the mini bus to take me to Phnom Penh airport, now mini buses aren’t my go to means of transport but the bigger bus wouldn’t drop me at the airport, so there were 15 of us jammed in this 12 seater bus for 4.3 hours on yet another bumpy dusty journey, dust was coming through the vents , we couldn’t move at least the aircon was working , well sort of , I began rationing my bottled water as we got caught in a traffic jam on the outskirts of PP. Finally I literally fell off the bus waved goodbye to the remaining passengers who now had more room as 3 of us got off, I was going to say disembarked but on this bus it was being released from a vapid box on wheels, I think my hair had attracted all the dust that had entered the bus . What joy to be at the airport although my flight still had 4 hours until check in so I had coffee, water, people watched, tried to clean my self up. Finally I arrived in Bangkok took a very expensive taxi ride but I purchased the ticket at the proper counter and 900 Baht was written down for my area which is Khao San Rd and Democratic monument . My accommodation is up an alley but very near a 7/11 you all know I love Thai 7/11 they are the best, it was like a celebration for me after 1 month of no 7/11’s and to find one so close. Yesterday morning I wandered down to the infamous Khao San rd known for its backpacking hostels and bars. I had washed my hair in the morning oh the joy of soft hair Thai water is so far the best for my hair, but needed some mousse which I just couldn’t get in Kampot , and good shampoo/conditioner, I also had to check out the local tourist agent Mamas tours who do a mini bus, yes another, to Pattaya where I am heading on Monday. It will be easy to book on Sunday they said and the trip is only 1 and a half hours on a sealed road, I’ve survived the Kampot mini bus chaos this should be luxury, I hope!!

Yesterday and today are Buddhist holidays Asalha Puja or Dhamma day, celebrating Buddhas first teaching day that he held on the full moon of the eighth lunar month, I realised why this throbbing metropolis was so quite a lot of shops closed and not much traffic , no alcohol is sold anywhere so bars where closed or just selling lemonade. In the afternoon I went to say goodbye to my friends who I had caught up with in Kampot, another coincidence , they were staying at a beautiful resort. It had been our plan in Kampot to sit by a pool and have a cocktail but due to our social schedule and the rain we had not enjoyed this treat so we were going to imbibe of a cocktail while dangling our feet in the pool, but alas it wasn’t to be , we were however able to have a drink their room then they took me up to the 38th floor wow Bangkok just before sunset how big is this city 9.5 million people, you do a 360 turn and can see tall buildings kilometres away on the horizon, the Chao Phraya river weaving its way through the metropolis. Thank you to Kristen and Stu for taking me up to the roof it was a memorable sight, but I had left my phone in the room so no pics. Now I had just figured out Riel and Dollars now I am back to Baht but I am happy it has come naturally to me as my Thai thankyou Kah. Last night I had some sticky rice and Papaya salad at the street stall near me it was so delicious , the lady made it fresh. The full moon was so big I managed to get a few shots. Today I will just have an easy day I will go for a walk in the evening tomorrow I want to go to the newest shopping mall I feel like a bit of glitz and glamour after my dusty days in the wild east of Kampot . I can’t wait to return there in October, at least I know what I need to bring with me , its all about my hair products that are unavailable in Cambodia. When next I write I shall be sitting by a pool in Pattaya. Lets hope my first sentence is my busride was wonderful !!

Until next time

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CAMBODIA, PEPPER PUPPIES AND KIDS

I noticed last week that the prettiest of the dogs here at Mango Tree 11 my accommodation hadn’t been around for the last few days I asked Somnang the lovely Cambodian manager of my accom where had she gone he gestured me and under the shade of the leanto near the banana trees there she lay in a large flowerpot with 4 squirming little puppies blindly crawling over her . My first thoughts were Oh how beautiful these babies were born when I was here, my second thought was I am glad she is ok, my third thought was won’t they suffocate in the dirt, a very western thought, a motherly thought who knows, later I was to discover when she had carried them out of the birthing pot that it had been filled with rags and a piece of an old rug. They are growing every day and she is a great mother, the daddy is here also and is quite chuffed with his efforts . The other puppies still scamper about being cute and naughty, on Sunday there were 2 Singaporean men getting ready to go for a walk when one said “my sock, where is my sock” Somnang and I looked at each other looked for the naughtiest (cutest) of the puppies who was no where to be seen, he had run off with my precious Vionic sparkly thong the other week and Somnangs the day prior , he found it around the back of the building half buried. So the search began , after about 15 minutes the Singaporean guy got another sock from his backpack as he was putting it on his mate and Somnang where heard laughing from the banana orchard which adjoins my accom they had found the sock buried among the palm fronds that were being kept to reroof the bar of the adjoining guesthouse, little puppy bounced around searching for something else to hide . He is at my feet now, I go barefoot here unless I walk outside the accom, , he does love my toes though!!!

The chooks here have very long legs as you walk along the streets not the main one along the riverside but the back streets the chooks just wander around , I have been having a few meals at the local café on the corner of my street, I get chicken rice and the drumstick bone is very long , not a chubby round western style drumstick but elongated, I tell you what though it has to be the juiciest chicken I have had in my travels so far, even tastier than my Penang favourite Chicken rice place, and it is only 6000 Riel, $2.10 Aust and $1.40 USA. I am getting so good at this converting . I was craving a hearty meat dinner the other day Tim had said he gets a good steak dinner at the place I am going to stay when I return, so I walked up there and for Australian $9.00 I had the best western food , a tender rump steak, served with Kampot pepper sauce and lots of beans, broccoli, crispy roast potatoes, an enormous meal , so delicious. Sorry to all my vegan readers but my philosophy is eat what your body craves, I was so craving meat and steamed vegies, being of a certain age I know what my body needs. 90% of the time I travel I eat vegetarian, but sometimes , oh yeh I need a good feed of meat and 3 veg. I mentioned the pepper, Kampot was once known for its pepper industry, it was first documented in the 13th century , up to 8000 tonnes were harvested annually but with the civil war in the 70’s the production halted with only 4 tonnes per year were documented in the ’90’s, however a few entrepreneurial folk have brought this industry back to life. I am hoping to go to one of the farms on the weekend with my son and his girlfriend but I will see what their plans are. They arrive on Friday at the moment I think they are in Siem Reap . I get to spend 2 days with them then I am out of Cambodia for the time being.Last post I mentioned I was drinking Vietnamese coffee that I had purchased in Vietnam a few months ago, when I do go out I now get Cambodian local organic coffee. It is Robusta like Vietnam but is 100% organic, interestingly production has increased 50% in 2018. The government is helping farmers produce this crop organically to compete with the non organic market of neighbouring countries as they import a lot of coffee from Vietnam (second largest producer of coffee in the world) and Laos . It is a not bad brew and may get some to drink on my future travels I have my little drip maker that travels with me. One of the opportunistic sociopathic charismatic liars I met (he told me he was Italian , spoke flawless Italian and French but turned out was from Algeria!!!) would always travel with his coffee making kit, little one drip coffee maker as well as his coffee from Indonesia and Vietnam. I totally get it now as it is what I do, I did also purchase some Kampot pepper ginger infused tea, tastes so good and will be in my kit. Tea is not widely grown here but there is a native tea plant not commonly grown productively but in the future who knows. This is a country getting back on its feet and I am so looking forward to coming here to live for a year or more in October this year. I revisited Soon at the Kama café, Julian is away with his Cambodian women of song performances plus is opening a new gallery in Siem Reap, One Eleven Gallery it is called. I spent a bit of time there and reassured Soon I am so happy to come back and help with English conversational language and they can help me with my Kmer. such a fabulous lady is Soon , they are now producing these fabulous brilliantly coloured hand painted bags , as well as the lino prints they transfer onto t shirts, material and now calico shopping bags . The girls I have met are just lovely. I can see that both Soon and Julian have heard it all before from excited foreigners coming into town saying I will be back to help I don’t think many do return, but I will.

It hasn’t rained now for 3 days , the sun is shining. my hand washed clothes are dry, I walk with out any umbrella regrets , the internet has been behaving itself and I am in a pool of sweat most of the day but I am a fan of humidity, sometimes I remember my tranquil days in the pool at Krabi and wish I could just jump in the water but they are only passing thoughts that’s what showers are for. I usually walk somewhere late morning either to the somewhat expensive grocery stores or just head in another direction , the other day I was on a mission to find the phone provider I have my sim with just to grasp a better understanding of my data amount, on my way there I stumbled across a local market full of noise, ramshackle stalls with all sorts of fruits, vegetable, bunches of herbs interspersed with bike parts, cheap shoes, second hand clothes and cane wares. Street food vendors selling noodle soups from their carts , banana fritters , it was on a dirt, pot holey street many bikes were parked there and traffic was still awkwardly weaving up and down this very crowded street, I had to jump puddles , watch for reversing motorbikes and on coming traffic while the shop keeps yelled out their wares for sale making sure I didn’t trip over any thing. I love this about walking everywhere you do get to feel the atmosphere of a place . I finally emerged onto a main road and found the phone shop. Apparently for my initial payment of $10 US dollars I get 2 months unlimited data but get extra fast speed data , I had run out of my fast speed so paid another $5 US and got 5GB of fast speed valid until August. To tell the truth the difference between fast speed and ordinary I can’t really tell but at least they send you messages in English, in Thailand my messages come in Thai script so I can’t even translate but I read the numbers that’s the main thing. I am accumulating many sim cards, my coffee opportunistic friend also had a lot of sim cards I get that now also. Hopefully my Thai card is still valid when I return next week, time will tell as they say.

At around 5 every day I walk up to my corner coffee shop where I sit and watch the fishing boats go out to sea daily. On Sunday after the rain had cleared the families were all out sitting around watching the children play on the swings and slides at the playground by the river, I took my coffee crossed the road, very busy road, sat on the waters edge and observed these families, all with their motorbikes parked on the roadside, all the children laughing , little boys on the sandy river bank fishing with home made fishing rods, throwing sticks in the river, the balloon man attempting to sell his cheap toys and colourful balloons to wanting children. Mothers and fathers watched and talked to each other and others, little children running past me waving hello and smiling as I smiled back, you know I was the only one with a phone in my hand , that was because I wanted to capture this moment on camera , very millennial of this babyboomer. But I did put my phone away and sit there alone surrounded by these happy children that perhaps by western standards haven’t got much but I saw they are surrounded by so much love , as we all know that is what matters .

I have visited Tim a few times , just a fleeting visit but so nice to be able to drop in and say hi to a friend. My friend Kristen recovered from her Dengue and is now , laying in a hammock sipping a mojito by the iridescent blue waters of Koh Samui. I keep noticing these little brightly coloured houses , like little bird houses here where I stay there is a conventional Spirit House outside painted gold and red on its own pedestal , there is a shrine in the foyer with its Chinese figures and incense burning, but these little houses I googled but couldn’t find any reference to . I had not seen them on my travels I asked Somnang and he said they are for the ghosts and candy or lollies are given as offerings , maybe its a Kampot thing but they are such happy little houses, I am looking at one now that is in the photos.

This is my last post from Cambodia until I return in October. Next Monday I am heading back to Thailand first a week in Bangkok a city I have spent many hours in at the airport but never in the city itself, my blog next week will tell you my thoughts on that !! Must away before the puppy eats my toes, yes he’s back again!!Until next time.

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KAMPOT SINGING IN THE RAIN

Three months ago I stood at H&M in Penang clutching a little foldable umbrella in a fabulous leopard print, not being a shopper and a bit of a penny pincher I pictured my next few months of travel, Oh I knew it was going to be wet but my programmed mind that is set at 7kg carryon and 20 kg checked luggage and my irrational side said you will get by without that gorgeous animal print umbrella that would fit into your travel purse.These words echo through my brain daily as I rush between showers or downpours down the street for a coffee or groceries or a meal. You would think perhaps after the rainy days in Thailand that I would have purchased one but I cannot find a compact one there nor here. To even think I would find one here in Kampot is laughable actually, I have spotted ponchos and large umbrellas but nothing like I had in my hand that day long ago at H&M .

I am sitting here at my accommodation , the rain that has been pouring down constantly for the last 15 hours has stopped so the bugs are flying around, there was even a frog out here , the puppies were entranced by it. I am having my breakfast/lunch which consists of Vietnamese coffee which I brought back from Vietnam and never had a jug in my room until now to go through the whole straining process, I am eating wheat crackers, they don’t have the effect on me that bread does, they are from Malaysia, on my crackers I have cheese from Denmark and tinned pate from France . Cambodia is not a great manufacturing country at the moment. The grocery stores which are bigger than mini marts , not as well stacked as some 7/11 are in Thailand are all very pricey. The biscuits were $.70 cents, the Pate $1.20 and the cheese$2,20. In Australian dollars this is around $6.20. Ok it will last me 3 or 4 days but I know to buy similar goods in Australia would be around $4.00. Then we have cup noodles which I know you can get at home for around .70 cents US ($1 Aust) here they are $1.30 US. remarkable , luckily I had read where this was the norm in Cambodia as every thing is imported so to eat out here is very reasonable you can easily have a big serving of rice or noodles with a drink for under $6.00 Aust. One thing here is the food is fresh the fruit and vegetables abundant . Yesterday I had my main meal around 4pm just vegetable fried rice with an egg, the amount of broccoli, cauliflower, carrots , beans , onions , garlic in it was amazing and the serving I couldn’t finish it . What I have found here although compared to Thailand its a little more expensive but the servings are a lot bigger. Also the past French influence lingers on in the form of croissants, pastries more so than I noticed in Vietnam where the west seems to have taken over. I have tried local rice dumplings in a delicious broth, the family are actually of Chinese origin and have kept up the traditional noodle making here in Kampot , they were plump and round $2.50 US and far to much to eat. I have tried Beef LokLak which is a traditional Cambodian dish , served with a salad and rice. I will endeavour to try Fish Amok which my friends tried when they were here. What fun it was to have my good mates here, visiting the Green Boat for laughs. I also managed to catch up with my other friend who runs the Kama café with his wife. Sadly the festival I was volunteering for is not going to be on this year , he is very busy touring and recording with a project called The Cambodian Woman of song which consists of about 12 vocalists it started as a tribute to his ex wife Kak Channthy who tragically was killed last year, she was a strong woman who was bringing Cambodian music to the world with the help of Julian. Chatting with Soon his wife she helps young Cambodian girls who have had no education and teaches them skills , after speaking to her I have decided to return here in October where I hope to get a 12 month visa , I will continue to write , one would hope my book will be completed and edited by early next year. But it would be great to have a sense of purpose which she said I could come and just converse in English with these girls to help them along as I drank coffee. She was helping them draw as they had never really held a pen. So that’s my plan . My friends have said they will help me look for an apartment but yesterday I found a great guesthouse in an old Colonial French building over looking the river I spoke to the English manager and he can give me a good rate of $280.00 US a month!! Even as I sat outside watching the rain I felt this was a good starting place. Where I stay now is great really just that little bit far from the river side if I venture out for a meal after dark I would always have to get a tuk tuk back.

My friends had a great Jet boat ride, the next day they went up to Mt Bokor, it was developed by the French as a mountain retreat but the Kmer Rouge destroyed it , it is having a resurgence with the Palace hotel being refurbished and becoming 5 star luxury, there is a Chinese owned Casino there as well. Their photos were spookily beautiful high above the clouds . If I am brave enough I may visit there one day. When my boys were growing up we lived in the high country of Victoria virtually at the base of one of the highest mountains in Australia , snow fields above me but I am not a lover of driving up mountains didn’t do it unless I had to then so why now ??? I am so not an adventure type. Although travelling solo does make my every day life an adventure. My dear friends left on Saturday , are now in Siem Reap, unfortunately Kristen started to feel unwell on her last day here and has just been diagnosed with Dengue fever. Stuart her partner was saying that the care they are being given at the clinic is outstanding so don’t believe what you read about doctors in Asia, I proved it myself in Ho Chi Minh when I was sick. I just hope she will be well enough to visit Angkor Wat by the end of the week. How many times in conversation do I say my health and safety are utmost important while travelling. One little bloody mozzie and my friend can’t enjoy her well earned holiday, she works physically very hard in her own gardening landscaping business so it upsets me that she has fallen ill. Touch wood mosquitos don’t like me they buzz around me but attempt to dive in for the kill but usually abort the mission. Someone once told me that its the amount of niacin you naturally have in your chemical makeup, out of my 2 sons one always got bitten the other didn’t. Actually its my son that the mozzies don’t like that I will be seeing in 10 days when he and his girlfriend come through Kampot a few days before I leave . I’m so excited !! I think after I see him here , seeing my other friends who have just left and being able to call in to have a chat with Tim on the Green Boat and Julian at Kama café I may have a sort of abandonment withdrawal symptoms, however after my week in the frantic metropolis of Bangkok I will be seeing another two friends from the past. So my recovery will be quick.

Would I say Kampot is pretty like Penang, no , has it the atmosphere of Krabi the other provincial river town I stayed at in Thailand no. Kampot is a mixture of chaos and beauty. In some parts as I walk along the streets it is littered with rubbish, it has old remnants of building materials just left to rot, it has old shacks, it has pristine new mansions being built ,it has remnants of it French Colonial days some buildings still stand but stone walls with ornate steel curls and whirls can be seen with the blocks over run with tropical growth, it has new fancy cars driving around, it has old trucks with no doors and black smoke exuding out the exhausts as it putts up the streets. it has scooters driven by 10 year olds with their siblings holding on behind, the many backpackers and retired Caucasian men mainly in their khaki shorts and echo sandals walking or riding in tuktuks , it has well dressed office workers, uniformed hotel workers walking up the street with ladies in their exotically tied head scarves and mismatched gaudily printed pyjama type clothing walking next to them . With all the rainfall everything is lush a verdant green , lots of stands of bamboo, banana trees, brilliant coloured flowers . It has spirit houses like Thailand . One or 2 temples I have seen , no churches I have seen, the French would have built them but the Kmer rouge destroyed so much of this country. Everyone seems to be working as I write this the workers that are clearing a building site across the road haven’t stopped working. The manager has gone out and I am looking after the place for a short time , the 2 puppies are rolling around my feet, a feral or Soi dog its rib bones sticking out skinny and wild wandered in before , we got it out the puppies huddled behind me but the braver dogs chased it away.   Kampot, I do like this town for its ruggedly  rough refinement.

Until next time

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Kampot Down By the Riverside

I arrived here in the dark of the evening , grabbed a tuktuk to take me to my accommodation which I thought going by what I had read,was close to town centre (found out later booking site had changed the centre of town) we rounded the brightly lit roundabout where the Big Durian is and headed down a dirt road then turned left bumped through an enormous puddle that in some places of the world would be called a lake!! Then I was there, I was greeted by a pleasant young man who showed me to my bungalow, told me the wifi password and said I could pay by cash tomorrow. The day started with the roosters crowing. I love morning sounds in Ao Nang it was the call to prayer , here I am back to the roosters reminiscent of Vietnam. After a good coffee and a light breakfast of scrambled eggs alone, after that chicken burger I will never touch refined bread again!!. I asked the staff who were all lazing around laying on the comfy looking couches looking at their phones if they could order me a tuk tuk .Which they did, one got up made the call then laid down again. In to town I went finding myself in a city of 50,000 residents , the wide dusty streets, motorbikes tooting at tuk tuks, big trucks decorated with many many mirrors rumbling past, the general hubbub of South East Asia was there to greet me , I found the atm withdrew my rent money, wandered to the river which looked like a great place however I had to return as I didn’t want to be carrying $400 US in my wallet, paranoid after Aonang robbery, I did find an incredibly overpriced supermarket geared for the foreign residents grabbed some things , then caught a Tuk Tuk home, the driver refused to drive through the puddle/lake , so I precariously walked on the raised grass embankment that was littered with rubbish, mainly plastic bottles, I made it , I paid my 27 days rent. Later that day I went for a paddle in the mini pool that was there, read my book while watching the staff sleeping on the comfortable lounges , the more I couldn’t laze on them the more I wanted desperately to lay on them. There was a water cooler there so filled up my water bottle with its icy cold contents only to discover later in my bathroom that the water wasn’t filtered , so a day was spent beholden to the bathroom ,suffering from what I now call , water poisoning, it may not be a thing and maybe I am hypersensitive to different water compounds but it was similar to my symptoms that I hadn’t had since Vietnam . Finally cured the next day I ventured into town to explore some more as I tiptoed through the rubbish and around the water I made it on to dirt road number 2 it too had a lot of litter on it as I reached a cross road suddenly 6 village dogs came bearing teeth, barking their heads off and circling me , I walked on bravely only for them to follow still barking madly , I was scared shitless as they say in Australia and probably elsewhere. I made it to the sealed street unharmed physically but mentally scarred!!. This part of town was different to the riverside area where I had been on that first day. This was wild west territory , there was a rawness to it. The clothes shops were all selling second hand clothes . I hadn’t come across that before on my travels , as a matter of fact in Penang I was wanting to donate some unwanted clothes to charity shop but there were none , yet here they are everywhere, one lady told me she has many clothes coming in every day, I will check out the labels to see but Stu my mate was telling me a lot of the cars here are second hand from the US and perhaps they fill the cars up with donated clothes to make the most of the space. Along this strip are all sorts of shop fronts fixing bikes,some stacked high with boxes of beer, some just with a shelf of chips and biscuits and some selling Durians , rambutans and mangostein , I purchased some, not durian!! I ended up exploring no more as the bathroom was calling so I grabbed a tuk tuk home this one took me to the door thankfully. I had met a jazz musician from Australia the previous day so we shared some fruit before he checked out to move closer to town. All the next day I was so reluctant to go into town as you all know I like walking everywhere and the cost of a Tuk Tuk return was $4.00 US dollars which although not that expensive on a daily basis it defeats the budget, and if I had to walk sideways on the grassy roadside to avoid the puddle at the end of it I didn’t want to do that. After a day being a hermit , writing and reading , still hadn’t made it to the couches I awoke the next day to see if I could cancel the rest of my stay and get refunded, a big ask but the young guy who was sitting up!! said the owner would be here at 2 pm and would speak to me then, so I waited sure enough at 2 he arrived, he lived in the back bungalow so hadn’t had far to walk. He was a friendly American , who understood about the dogs and the puddle so he happily refunded the money and I booked where I am now writing this. Surprisingly the couches were free while the boss was there so made the most of my last day luxuriating on the couch reading while drinking bottled water. They did have food there and it was simple but good. The staff where all very young and very sweet , if I was a couple and or could hire a scooter this place was a tranquil retreat .

At my new accommodation I was greeted by 4 dogs, one an exceptionally cute puppy these dogs didn’t frighten me they were friendly and the young guy that is the weekly manager couldn’t be more helpful and hospitable, there are not a lot of tourists around as it is low season at both my accommodations there have been very few people staying. It is a vibrant hub for a lot of expats who have moved from Sinoukville which has now been taken over by Chinese investors building copious casinos. Now to money, as I said in my last blog trying to get my head around 2 currencies one country is not easy, you see things priced in US dollars and work that out, pay the money then get change in Riel and Dollars, then the price is in Riel so you have to rework your calculations , but meeting friends that have lived here a while I think I have got it 10,000 riel is around $2.50 US. the Aussie dollar hovers around 70 cents US so my mind calculator is on high alert all day spinning around with numbers. It has to be good for you right. My dear friends Kristen and Stu who I had met in Phnom Penh arrived so together we went out to dinner at this great café, if you are a beer drinker this is a hop heaven , pots or cans always 1.00 or under. I did have a beer ,not my drink of choice usually, but icy cold glasses and icy cold smooth brew of Cambodian beer at 50 cents a pot I did approve, my choice of dinner was pumpkin with spicy beans fresh fish bits and rice for a total of $2.50 US . Then we headed off to an old friend of ours who has lived in Cambodia a number of years. He is the mine host of the intrepid Green Boat. A bar on a boat on the river. How great it was to catch up with Tim and to be with friends all laughing, I had turned to the Jim Beam by this time, watching the sunset cruise ships all fairylighted up to the hilt cruising up and down, across the river is a Kmer karaoke bar all neon pink glowing glory, you could hear the tunes floating across the water. A lot of Tims usual clientele wandered in a great bunch of friendly folk locals and expats alike. You can tell they respect our friend and embrace the great space he has created here on the Preak Tuek Chhu River or as the locals call it the Kampot river which due to the lack of my linguistic skills I shall refer to it from here on in. Tim has his own tuk tuk so yesterday he took us out further along the river to a resort friends of his own , what a beautiful river this is, small resorts are dotted here and there , local houses across the river. While we were there we got to experience a wild and windy bout of thunder and lightening , no rain . My sister rang on whats app while the storm was brewing when I told her there was thunder and lightening she said ‘Oh don’t get struck by lightening, my sister makes me feel about 10 years old and I love her for that, when I was swimming in Ao Nang she said “Oh don’t get stung by jellyfish, which I did, before I arrived in Cambodia she said don’t get bitten by rabid dogs, I didn’t but close so as much as she puts the mozz on me , so far the lightening has not got me yet!! My other sister was watching the movie Taken a few weeks ago and said to be careful. Like really someone will kidnap a lady younger than Cindi Lauper older than Madonna travelling on a budget. But I do love my sisters to the moon and back and it warms my heart even at my age that they care about my well being.

The ride to and from the resort in the back of the tuk tuk was slippy ,slidey bumpy, oncoming trucks squeezing close to us on the very narrow road but what fun although I was hanging on very tightly to the rails as we bumped along, just being with friends I have known for years was so good. At least Kristen and Stu saw I would not be a happy passenger on the back of a scooter going up Mt Bokor. Today a few couples are going on a jet boat ride up the river, another mate of Tims does these tours so looking forward to catching up at dinner with them to hear of their river adventures. I opted out as it is Blog day.

When we returned Tim said the fishing boats all head out to sea around 5 so we watched as they all tried to race each other down the river to the sea , all the boats are the same colour , I am curious as to why but I shall investigate further.

So first impressions of Kampot there is a wild rawness to this river town but there is also a great friendliness about it also. In Thailand I almost felt the locals are so over tourists where as here they are always smiling , I was waiting for my friends the other night and suddenly I was surrounded by all these beautiful children , chatting to me in English. Having my friend here that lives here and my friends visiting it has given me a great feeling about this town, I am coming back here in September as I am volunteering for the Kampot writers festival that’s run by yet another Melbourne friend who lives here I haven’t caught up with him yet. Yes Kampot you are awesome!!

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BYE THAI HERE KMER

After leaving Ao Nang I had a 3 day layover back in Krabi Town,this time I stayed at a different end of town and discovered a busy Saturday local food market the usual smells , sounds of cleavers chopping up just killed chickens, the pungent smell of spice mixes , stalls of mangoes from iridescent green to yellow a great way to spend my last Saturday in Thailand for a while. Sunday I took one look at my feet and thought I had to get a pedicure , like it or not open shoes rule in the tropics for me , there was a place next to where I was staying so I ventured in there , a group of 4 ladies were in there dancing, an old man was getting his hair dyed the deepest black possibly to please his young mistress or his own vanity, who am I to assume here I am wanting pretty toes for my own vanity. The girls stopped dancing and I told them I wanted a pedicure so one of them sat me down, the others kept dancing I noticed that they were teaching one of them to dance so there was much laughter and once they saw I was all for this dancing on a Sunday in a salon in Krabi they kept going after the hour or so of them chanting suun, neung, saawng, saam , see, haa, then cha cha cha then lock I found out I had learnt to count to 5, and learnt the word for cross!!! cha cha has the same meaning. It turned out they were doing an Arabic dance . As I left I did the steps (I know I vowed never to dance again but this was not being filmed!!) chanting the numbers and words , they all clapped and laughed and said I should be a dancing teacher, what fun and it was 50 Baht less than the pushy pedicurists of Ao Nang, but I gave them the 50 baht extra for the absolute enjoyment and pleasure of this experience.

So Monday dawned picked up at 5 driven to Krabi airport, got a window seat, was able to admire the lushness of the country side until we were in the clouds. I had a 6 hour layover in Bangkok airport were I managed to find a place to sleep on the benches with no armrests , read a little, ate a little, drank a lot of water, went to go to ATM to get money to change and there were none , none at all, the money changers wouldn’t take a card. I had tried on Sunday to get money in Krabi but the ATM I tried wouldn’t work internationally then the rains came and in my assuming mind I thought Oh well Ill do it at the airport, I was half asleep at Krabi , had to check in at one terminal then board at another as I was onward travelling internationally too busy trying to work out where to go , so I don’t know if they had any atms, but Bangkok international surely but no. I had 2000 baht so I changed that to 47.00 US dollars. In Cambodia even though they have the riel, the US dollar is widely used. I knew I would have to pay 30 dollars for my visa , and a further 7 for my tuk tuk driver that my accom had pre arranged. I had an uneventful flight once again the plane was full, every flight I have been on are full great for the airlines. I am flying Air Asia always now.

On arrival at Phnom Penh airport I was surprised at the short time it took for me to get through immigration, when I handed over my money for my visa 2 twenties, I said with a smile, I hope you have got change, and the very handsome I might add, officer said not for you , then he laughed and gave me my 10 bucks, instantly I knew this country the land of Wonder was going to fulfil its promise. My checked through luggage was circling the carousel as I emerged from immigration and my smiling Tuk tuk driver was waiting with my name on a sign. Recently due to a toll to get into the airport the tuk tuk drivers have to park out on the street as the fee would add to their fare and they would loose their competitiveness. He spoke great English as I was soon to find out most of the Cambodians I meet have a better understanding of English than the Vietnamese and Thai, makes it easier for me the lazy linguist.

To take a tuk tuk ride through the streets of Phnom Penh is one of the most exhilarating things I have done, you have probably gathered after reading my blogs I am not an adventure sports person, so this was better than sex as I remember it (haha). The wild warm wind blowing , the chaos of the traffic, tuk tuks, cars, motorbikes , trucks all jostling in and out of the 2 lanes , the sights on the road, looking at the signs realising there is no way I will be able to recognize any words,it was different to the chaos of Ho ChI Minh as there are no tuk tuks and there are 7 million less people than HCM in Phnom Penh. I have read about the development of Cambodia due to the Chinese investment and it was full of cranes, workmen in their hardhats with billowing scarves underneath to catch the breeze and the sweat, scrambling up and down on bamboo scaffolding, large highrises emerging , glimpses of temple tops . Oh I love the excitement of arrival, its like the beginning of a romance. All the journey took about 40 minutes , $7.00 worth of an awesome adventure. We arrived at my accom the Top Banana a hostel my room with private bathroom was $20 US a night just on my budget, the stairs leading to the Top Banana were something else, so steep, phew , luckily the nice Tuk Tuk driver carried my case up, my room was good. There was an ATM opposite so another trip downstairs and upstairs to pay, then get riel in change . Once again my brain getting around not only one new currency but 2!!! I calculated my budget into US dollars so I now have a bank in my brain of how much I have per day . This the Top Banana has a great rooftop bar. The highlight was not only had I arrived on Mojito Monday $2.00 a glass!!! But my lovely friends from St Kilda in Melbourne whom I had planned to meet in Kampot had just arrived also so I messaged them if they were in the area if they would like to join me in Mojito Monday, I wasn’t going to walk downstairs again until it was absolutely necessary. Ten minutes and a tuk tuk ride later they arrived , it was so good , full of Mojito madness I think I spoke to much, ahh solo travel means you do tend to over talk when you meet friends, at least I didn’t dance, Kristen and Stu will be most relieved. We meet again here in Kampot next week, they have 4 more days in Phnom Penh then to Kep. I wish they would write a blog , they have a lot to offer on their adventures in Asia and they get around a bit in Australia.

So one night in Phnom Penh and the bus picked me up at the doorstep, we transferred to a big 40 seater bus. The company was Giant Ibis the price was $10 US. The bus was airconditioned, very comfortable and there were 2 other passengers other than me. They give you a free bottle of water and delicious Danish and there is great wifi. I slept for the first hour or so only to wake up to see we were still on the outskirts of PP. The window outside was dusty, speckled with bobs of dust, no perfect Instagram shots of the Cambodian countryside for me. I realised why as the journey progressed so did the road works , villages on the sides of the road had been pushed back to make way for this progress, the Chinese building many casinos in the once laid back town of Sinoukville, had increased the need for speedier land travel.The little market towns roadsides covered in roadworks debris, tops of umbrellas grey with dust the picture immediately was one of hardship and hardworking people trying to eke out a living.

I noticed the extraordinary amount of existing Servos or Gas Stations some just opened or still being built they must expect a lot of traffic . Do we lament change like this, or do we embrace it I guess you put yourself in the well worn shoes of the locals , it can only mean prosperity as long as they are the ones employed and benefitting from this future surge of traffic on their highway. When we glimpsed at the country side, I noticed the abundance of skinny white cows or Zebu used as oxen, women were leading them untethered into paddocks or stalls beside their house. Lots and lots of children playing outside in the piles of dust and rocks, some kicking a ball in a barren paddock that was being readied for another house or servo!!

So I arrived in Kampot in the dark , next week I will be able to tell you of my adventures in this Cambodian river town. My accom is down a dirt road , thatched bungalows, banana trees and roosters crowing outside my window.

All the people I have met here in this country that was once privy to a massacre of millions less than 50 years ago , are so lovely , not over the tourists as perhaps they seem to be in Thailand. Also they have a sense of humour, they get my pathetic little one liners, so I can’t wait to see what the week brings. I am off to town in a tuk tuk now to get a sim card .

Please excuse grainy photos all taken whilst travelling in Tuk Tuk or bus!!

Until next time.

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Ao Nang Its A See You Later From Me

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I sit here winding down from my stay by the sea with only 2 days remaining I can only see the great place this is not the dark side of housemaids revenge.

As an update on the robbery, I believe they think I am lying, a silly tourist trying to taint the name of this hotel, this town. The housemaid who is my main suspect hit her head on Friday , complaining of a very bad headache she went home and had two days off!! If that’s not karma I don’t know what is. As compensation for my loss I now get a free coffee every morning. Its damn good coffee, hot and strong so I am not complaining. I said last week I have thrown this incident over my shoulder and moved on.

My sisters husbands sister was holidaying here, the Greeks have a name for that relationship I believe it is Simbethera, a lot easier to say. She and her friend were celebrating a significant birthday. There were 12 of them travelling made up of couples and a few single gals like my self. They were fun ,a great bunch of aussies , all school friends from way way back in a country town. Some times we shrink away when confronted with a bunch of boisterous folk from our homelands . But these friends of my simbethera , none of whom I had ever met, are just lovely, respectful , friendly , happy, getting all those around them feeling great , they were taking a photo on their last night when I joined them at the Reggae Bar, most of the band wanted to be in it , the waiters, and even a random Chinese tourist . It is so great being a solo traveller and it makes you appreciate people when you meet them . Of course to ramble on in your own dialect of your language is a refreshing change from trying to speak Vietnamese, Thai or even Bahasa Malay, broken English and signing to make yourself understood. The challenges those obstacles present are great gets the old mind ticking away. Its almost as though you can let your guard down when you are with your countrymen . It was time appropriate as after my robbery where all my vulnerabilities were exposed to be in a group , having a laugh was the best medicine .

I have only been swimming once since my incident, I locked everything in the safe, then I had to worry about the key to the safe so I concocted a sort of illogical treasure hunt, wrapping it in tissue, putting it in a bag, putting the bag in a shoe and the shoe in a shoe bag in my case. Phew!!!! I was worried the whole time at the beach, the tide was in it was a little cloudy, on my second dip in the sea I felt something around my foot then it started to sting a bit, I tried to ignore it but in the end had to stop my bobbing in the waves, I could see distinct little marks on my foot when I sat on the sand , I put sunscreen on it , the only thing I had and waited to either swell up and die or for the spikey tingling to ease, thankfully the last scenario was the outcome. After that I came back took about 5 minutes to get the key and check if all as in order and it was. So carefree swimming in the sea days are over and my stay here in AoNang ends , I have 3 nights back in Krabi Town where I am excited to go to the evening market then its off to a brand new country and 4 weeks in a river town .

Impressions of this town, minus what happened to my money. Its a busy beach town, I am sure all of us can go to any beach town in our country and feel that beach town vibe, this has it with the Thai twist. Smell of salty air, sunscreen, coconut aftersun lotion hovers . Lots of tourists even though it is low season. Walking the streets in the evening seeing seafood displayed on the freshly shaved ice , fairy lights, multi coloured led lights wrapped around the trees , music coming from different bars, the restaurant hustlers trying to woo you in to their place with the promise of $5.00 cocktails. The beach with its longtail boats plying folks out to the islands, a group of American college students playing American footy on the sand. (I am assuming they were college students they looked the age ). The frisbee throwers that sounded German , the lone juggling man from who knows where. The laughter of children as the waves tickle their toes. the sunbathers wanting to be tanned so they have something to show for their holiday. I was surprised that so many of the sunlovers were reading books , parents helping the kids build sand castles. AHH beach life its great. I will come back here if my journey brings me this way again. Its a wholesome town easy to get around has everything you need. The scenery of the limestone karsts that tower over the town make this unique. The more I look out at them from my balcony the more intriguing they become. Neanderthal man lived in caves in these ancient natural monuments .

As a side note as a long term traveller sometimes you crave just a chicken nugget or a cappuccino, if you happen to visit a McDonalds, a Starbucks, or Coffee Club be aware that these multinational franchises are either the same price or more expensive than they are in your country. I happened to go into Starbucks here the other day, basically to cool off as it had been a hot walk , I was perusing at the menu and they were asking $7.00, or 155 Baht for a coffee!! We don’t even pay that in Australia , I was feeling like hot chips or Fries on a very rainy day last week so I ordered the hot cheesy fries from Maccas 101 baht about $5.00Aust and the serving was so small , they were food for the soul that day, cured my illogical cravings. We all say oh no I am going to only eat the local food which I do 95% of the time but sometimes you do crave some western foods randomly. I don’t even eat McDonalds at home why here I don’t know. I don’t normally have chips either why here I don’t know. Who knows , even the other night when I joined my simbethera and her band of merry friends for her birthday dinner I ordered a chicken burger. Number one I don’t eat gluten, number two I don’t even eat bread gluten free or not. But in some other universe I thought I would be fine , there was some lettuce in it but boy oh boy did I suffer the next day, the bloating ,the feeling of indigestion, just feeling Blah all day , had to go to 7/11 buy a few sachets of Eno which helped a little bit , a 10,000 step walk still not gone, another lesson learnt. I do know that glutinous rice has no gluten in it its named as it is sticky or gluey, I do love sticky rice and mango , yummo.I have had my fair share of lessons this week, another is when I say I am not going to dance I shouldn’t get up and dance, my simpethera took a video of us all dancing, I swear when I was on that dance floor I was moving in tune with the music, I was also 6 foot tall with flowing hair and 21 again, but alas the video is testament as to why my dancing days are over!!!

The weather has been easing itself into the wet season, so stormy some nights, grey overcast cloudy days, then the most glorious of sunshiny days On my chicken burger night we were sitting right outside by the seashore ,after a simply superb day of sunshine, blue skies, the background sound of the waves meeting the sand, a long table under the palms in the twinkling lights, we had ordered and our drinks had arrived, then someone said was that a rain drop, well within 10 minutes we were all inside , a hurricane force wind was flapping the canvas wall of the restaurant as the rain poured down, just before we got our meal poof the power went off, and stayed off. I will say that I had made the number to 13 of us, I will say no more!!!They were doing the dishes outside under a lean to with the light of a motorbike, cooking the meals on gas by lamp light. They did a great job , remained cool and calm , it actually was a fantastic night even walking home in the darkened streets getting soaked was fun . As seaside towns go this is a good one . On the whole the people are lovely , I have now walked down the street so many times, that the little tour stalls propped on the street with girls waiting for customers the massage places where the staff all sit outside waiting for clients, the waiters outside the restaurants, have got to the stage where they no longer ask me ,they know I am a tight arse budget traveller not a cashed up tourist, they just laugh and smile at me . As I have said in past blogs its the community you surround yourself with when you slow travel as a solo traveller that makes you feel good, plus you get to know the people perhaps on a superficial level but more so than when you are just present for a day or so. So it is with a heavy heart I bid Ao Nang and Krabi goodbye but also Thailand for a month when I come back I will be in a different province .

Until next time.

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Why I am CRABBY in KRABI

Aonang you got me man…..

I usually begin with a heart full of joy for the life style I have. With the help of a few curve balls I have ended up traversing South East Asia writing this blog , writing my novel, embracing the places I choose to stay for 3 weeks or more , generally .To be honest as of yesterday morning I was going to write about how wonderful my accommodation is here in Ao Nang.How I love sitting on the balcony listening to the evening call to prayer for the mosque close by. How I love sitting in the outside café here every morning churning out my novel as I drink a strong black Americano. How I so love my walk to the beach. How I adore bobbing up and down in the waves. How I really am happy and content here. Until…. yes , a few days ago when I went to the beach I hid my wallet with my passport and the 1000 baht note (app.$50 Aust) with 5 by 100 baht notes . I hid them well under two packing cubes with random clothes scattered on top, I hid them then behind my clothes hanging up and closed the wardrobe, skipped merrily off to the beach. The maid had been in when I was gone and had cleaned the room. When I retrieved my wallet the 1000 baht note was missing. At this stage I had distinctly remembered it being there, as I recalled I had enough money not to go to the ATM for a few days, in the hope the Aussie dollar would go up against the strong Baht. I was exhausted when I went downstairs but the receptionist was very busy checking in a group of Japanese tourists. So in the end I didn’t report it as I really had no proof. By Monday I needed to go to an ATM , at 17.30pm on Monday I withdrew 3,500 Baht. I then went to 7/11 got some dinner then went back to the hotel , the next morning I took my bag with everything in it downstairs where I wrote for a few hours , I went up to my room about 1pm , I sat on my balcony had some cheese and crackers , then changed into my swimming attire , checked my wallet , yes I had 3 1000 baht notes and 1 by 500 baht note . plus 180 baht. I put the 180 baht into my backpack and hid my wallet again, pretty much the same set up as before but this time I purposely put the orange top on top of the black one . I left the hotel at 2pm, I returned at 4.45 pm , my room had not been cleaned. As I opened the wardrobe I could see that the black top was sitting on top !!! With trepidation I checked my wallet and the kind thief had taken 2 by 1000 notes leaving me with the 1500. I had proof this time of my withdrawal , that I had not left the building until 2pm . But of course they said perhaps I had taken it with me to the beach and spent it , I mean it takes me a good week to spend 100 Aust dollars, the manager / owner looked at cctv and couldn’t see anyone entering my room. She asked why I didn’t use the safe and I said it didn’t work ,it wouldn’t open, then she opened a drawer and gave me a key to the safe and said I needed that. Why when I checked in they didn’t give me the safe key. After I showed her a screen shot of my withdrawal she said tomorrow she would look into the cleaners eyes and ask her about the missing money. But she is not here today. Have read a few posts on trip advisor saying that their similar situations were never resolved I will just have to let it go . I think and hope that Karma does its magic, perhaps the maid needs it for something, she was crying the other day. I can’t move as I have paid for the next 10 days , just had $150.00 Aust stolen from me plus I do really love it here. I will not let this stop me loving Ao Nang although I will always have a bitter taste in my mouth when I mention this place. Whether this situation is righted time will tell but I will be using the safe, taking the key to the beach .

Today is Eid , the celebratory end to Ramadan , one of the traditions of Eid is that money is given to the poor as an act of charity, strange that this has happened on this day. I am not a religious person, I am a person of the universe and honour all religions, nations traditions .Growing up on the farm church was not something that we did you see my fathers father who had passed before I was born was a bit of a preacher man in the Anglican religion and force fed his 10 children bible readings , consequently none of them took to religion at all. My mother, her father was a Russian Jew who married a Methodist, sent my mother to a Presbyterian school so by the time she married my Anglican atheist dad she was over it. I was christened , not in a church but a country primary school in a paddock on a hill , my brother spilled ink all over himself and the ceremony was cut short so even though somewhere out there their is a piece of paper as evidence I was christened I have no idea if I am or not. My mother used to tell me just to be an honest and good person, she was a believer in Karma and reincarnation which was pretty radical thinking in the 50’s and 60’s . So to the person out there who took my money I hope you used it to buy your children new shoes or delicious food.

All the places around here are closed today being Eid. Even though Thailand is a Buddhist country over 93% population, here in the south of Thailand there is a large Muslim population . Muslims make up for 4.3% of the population with a majority of them here in the province of Krabi. The mosque that is near where I stay is a beautiful construction, it has a large golden dome in the centre surrounded by 4 minarets that as evening descends change colour giving off a magnificent light show, just a wonderful sight.

After talking in my last blog about the garbage I noticed two Thai teenagers with rubbish bags picking up litter on the beach, so that was a good sign. I do think people in general are becoming more and more aware we have to do our bit to save the environment. It is very hard while travelling but I try . thanks to a friend Stuart who sent me the Thai phrase for I don’t want which is Mai aow kah, I have used this and have not been given a straw or plastic bags , so thank you Stuart.

I was intending to get a pedicure but my trust issues are at a low so I don’t want to be talked into a massage or have to talk my self out of a French manicure , which I hate by the way. Don’t worry I am still a strong solo traveller, more untrusting of everyone , which is probably good as letting your guard down leads to a vulnerability you can’t afford to have when you are a solo traveller male or female.

My health and travel insurance is due next week so am looking at staying with my present company Allianz or going with World nomads which is always top of every ones recommendations in posts I read. My main concern is if I die over here , I want to be cremated wherever I am, just in a cheap cardboard box, then my sons can come on a trip together to get me , turn me into two teapots or just scatter me somewhere. When I was a teenager my eccentric Aunt Lilla passed away in Perth, She was a beauty, had married a millionaire who had properties in London, Capetown and Perth, no children came of this union and he was a busy man leaving her home on the estate in Perth where she ended up shacking up with the gardener, dying with very little money living in a one bedroom flat. My dad and his brother where summoned by her solicitor to come and scatter her ashes in the waters between Perth and Cape Town, they had to hire a boat, they had a great time I believe. To me the little farm girl it was so exotic so I have always imagined my sons together scattering me somewhere. Both these insurance policies have repatriation clauses for 15000 $$, I have a week to decide, the cost is similar, around $800 Aust.

I have now been checking the tides as when I went to the beach on Saturday the tide was out which meant a long walk on the shelly sandy surface of the sea to actually be able to fully immerse oneself. I am having today off swimming ,I want to keep my bag close, I guess I am a little bit wounded, but I’ll be fine. The main suspect just came and chatted to me all happy so I don’t know what is going on. I will go for a walk the other direction check out the most extraordinary banana plant I have ever seen .

As an add on to this the owner/manager spoke to me this evening, the maid stayed back to clear her name, she is a single mum, she works hard and she denied every thing. This episode has really upset me and for my well being I have let it go, life is too short to wonder and worry. She has kept her job, the manager will sleep tonight for she said all night she worried about this. I will sleep well and lesson learnt, in the safe or on your person will be my ongoing mantra.

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