The Ultimate guide to
The Ultimate guide to
What are the chances of meeting someone in a village in rural Cambodia from a small town in the UK you had lived in? Previous to living in Darlington in the North East of England, I spent many years living in a town nearby called Stockton On Tees. Imagine my amazement when, just before leaving the CPOC Orphanage on Friday afternoon, a guy, Lenny, arrived to volunteer who lives in Stockton. It really is a small world!
Today I`ve been sitting for most of the day in a pleasant bar, open to the street and so watching the world go by, in a busy, mainly touristy area of hot and sticky down town Phnom Penh.
I arrived back here last night having spent a week at the orphanage a couple of hours south of here in rural Cambodia and spent most of the evening in the company of the delightful Lenka form the Chezch Republic who had also been at the orphanage and was now on her way to Siem Reap for a few days and then on to a beach resort in Thailand. She left for her bus at about 8.30 this morning after we had breakfast in this very same bar.
Shortly after she left I came back here this morning with my laptop to do some work but before I could open it, I noticed a European looking guy with fairly long, white, turning grey hair stood talking to one of the girls behind the bar. I think he struck up the conversation first.
Udo Konig is from Northern Germany. He is 72 years old, looks a little to me like Richard Branson and has lived a fascinating life.
In our 3 hour conversation over a beer or two this morning he told me about his travels, his work, his life. Little, often amusing, stories about his experiences in the Amazon, in Dubia, in the United States, in Vietnam, where he now lives with his young Vietnamese girlfriend, and in many other countries. I warmed to him immediately.
It turns out Udo is an architect. He has designed projects the world over, from Sports Stadiums to Univesities and from Airports to luxury resort developments in Dubia. He says everytime he went back home to Germany as a younger man they wanted him to join the army so he kept escaping and eventually didn`t go back there until he was older.
His reason for being here in Phnom Penh was to meet up with former colleagues at a local office but it was a public holiday here, of which there are many, and so he wasn`t meeting them until Monday morning when they returned from their families to work in the city.
And this is another one of the many reasons I adore this travelling lifestyle. You`re never lonely. You meet and have conversations with fascinating people as well as the many likeminded travellers from all over the world.
But it`s not all a bed of roses for me over here in South East Asia. In fact the last 48 hours or so has certainly provided it`s far share of disasters. But you learn to deal with any problems you encounter. You have to. You learn to accept the squat style loo`s, the flies, the style of food which occasionally looks unpalitable, the often humble way of life we sometimes take for granted in the west.
The first probem I encounted recently was at an ATM which I had to travel around 10 miles to visit in the next village to where I`d been staying in rural Cambodia.
Everything appeared to be going to plan. The cash machine whirred away as it counted the $70 I`d asked for, spat my card out and even gave me a reciept. But where was my money? I waited a while but all was now silent. As far as the ATM was concerned, it had done its job and I`d drawn $70 out of my account. But of course I hadn`t.
Needing an injection of cash, I made a second attempt with fingers crossed. With much relief, this time the cash machine injected my cash out of the slot.
When I got back to base and looked online at my account, I was not suprised to see that the bank in question had indeed registered both transactions so I am now $70 plus $5 transaction fee (approx £50 in total) out of pocket with little I can do about it. Redress would be with the bank where the ATM was situated and this being in rural Cambodia there was little chance in communicating my problem to anyone at the bank. So, I guess I`ll just have to live with it.
My next problem occured when I fell over a couple of times. Once whilst getting up from one of those old style desks at the orphanage. It was getting dark and I had forgotten about the peice of wood that attaches the desk to the bench seat at each end. I tripped over it and landed on the floor with a thud. Getting up I saw that I`d took a small chink of skin out of my right wrist. And then, the following day, I slipped on the wet tiled floor whilst attempting to squat above the hole of the orphanage toilet and grazed my leg just below the knee. Both incidents could have been worse but I have made a mental note to be more careful. I certainly don`t want to have to end my adventure due to a careless accident.
The final problem I had concerned my facebook account. And if you`re reading this on facebook as opposed to my reading it on my website, you`ll know I`ve got it sorted.
Due to a problem with my laptop, I had to perform a recovery operation which meant I had to download a new browser. When I attempted to log into my facebook account, up popped a message from facebook warning me that my account may have been hacked. Rather than asking me to answer security questions, the only way to unlock my account would be to download and send to them a copy of an official photo document proving my identity such as my passport or driving licence. Well, there was no way I was prepared to do that. The only other option, according to this facebook message, was to log in using a previously used browser. Well, mine was no longer availalable becuase of the recovery. How then could I do that?
Then I remembered that back in the UK, my friend Gill had a computer at her home that I regularly used to log into facebook before I came to S E Asia. I skyped her and have arranged for her to log into my account from the UK computer... Will it work?
I`ll know in about 5 hours time when I again skype my friend Gill in the UK.
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