Tag Archives: motorbike

Free lunches, crashing waves and motorbike shinnanigans. Standard.

19 Mar

Well after sorting out the cards and the cash, we hired a motorbike and went to the beach. The waves are huge here – well over 6 foot. We played in the sea for ages and got knocked off our feet a couple of times…we kept having to have a break to get our breath back as the waves are so strong and just when you want to get out, a massive wave comes and you have to scramble out, bikini akimbo and full of sand, just so you don’t get dragged back out. Definitely not a place for swimming when you’ve had a few. If you can swim out during a moment’s calm, you can catch a big wave and it will bring you all the way to shore!

After swimming, we went off to the guy’s restaurant we met the day before. He was delighted to see us and immediately sent Craig back to Hikkaduwa to get a bottle of arrack for us to share. We explained we were on a bike so couldn’t have too much but he explained that if we ate, it would be ok!

We hadn’t any breakfast so were pretty hungry, but the guy brought out fried fish and poppodums to keep us going – I was a bit dubious about the fish as it was whole but it was actually very nice mackerel once you’d picked the bones out of it. His wife was cooking us lunch whilst we talked with him and his son about his son’s studies – he’s training to complete CIMA in English which will be a massive achievement. His other son is working in Dubai as a lifeguard earning 30,000 rupees a month which is £150. Once Pathum has completed his studies, he could earn 40,000 rupees as an accountant but is trying to get a sponsorship to another country. His dad buys 10 lottery tickets every so often…we asked him what he would do if he won and he said he’d visit Dubai so he could see his son.

We were eventually given food after half a bottle of arrack had been shared, mixed with ginger beer. Craig explained that he was driving so he didn’t want to have too much, but everyone insisted that he would be fine if he had some food. And typically, we had an enormous lunch

Enough to fill four people! Chunks of tuna, dhal, ochre, other vegetables and rice…we were stuffed! I tried Sri Lankan style – with my fingers which was pretty liberating! I did have a commentary on exactly what proportion of rice, dhal and curry I had to have at one time but I think I got the hang of it :)

As we had had quite a few soft drinks and arrack, along with the meal, we asked what we owed him: nothing. He said that it was a pleasure to have friends round and that we were family now so we couldn’t possibly pay. He showed us his house, his dogs and his parrot (which talked back to his son, saying he would really like some rice now please!). Unbelievable as we’d had such as massive meal and several drinks, but he insisted that we could not pay. I was sure that we would end up paying something…a lesson in leaving your English cynicism behind and taking lovely people at face value for a change.

We went to have a nap for a little bit and then to get Craig’s hair cut. He got a hair cut and a head massage for a couple of pounds

Which sexy 80’s haircut to choose???

Bang tidy.

…and then on to Sam’s bar for a cold beer and more importantly, a wifi connection. Managed to get hold of Mum on Mother’s Day for a chat – I sure looked crazy as I was standing under the only light in the bar, bellowing into my computer, ignoring the bemused looks but it was very nice to speak to her and Hannah.

The next morning we went to the harbour at seven o’clock as nowhere was open for breakfast: unlike Vietnam, everywhere here is very relaxed and laid back so doesn’t open until 10 or so. We bought a red snapper-kind of fish for 320 rupees and got it gutted

and stuck it in a little plastic bag and then hopped on to the motorbike, local style. We drove to Pathum’s place where we gave him the fish (praying it was the eating type and hadn’t massively offended him by bringing the equivalent of catfood!) to say thank you for the lunch the previous day. He gave us free coffee and ginger beer in return – we will be forever in his debt!

Pathum said that the best place to get sarongs was 4km away so we hopped back on the bike but decided to take the scenic route off the Galle road. We were very glad we did

and stopped at a moonstone mine along the way

Everything they had for sale was beautiful but essentially unnecessary for our travels so with a heavy heart we avoided their bargain prices and hit the road again.

As we’d come so far out of the way, we stopped at Ajit’s again and made his little girl’s day by bringing her some nail polish and did her nails. She was so excited I swear she didn’t even breathe whilst I did her fingernails and toenails! I also gave her some lipbalm and she said she was so happy she wasn’t going to eat again because she didn’t want to wear it off, so I gave her the whole tub as I’ve got tons floating around in my bag

Craig and I got back to Hikkaduwa and found a little place that did lunch, where we ordered rice and curry. As usual, a feast was put in front of us

which we really couldn’t do justice but it was amazing. They have a way of making vegetable dishes so delicious that if I lived here I could definitely go back to being veggie again :) The man was very concerned that we had had enough food and we liked it…we could barely breathe afterwards, never mind eat anything else!

Another nap called us so we got up about four o’clock to wander down to the bar for an internet connection and a couple of cold beers, where we met an English guy called Mark who had spent a year working in India for a women’s charity. He is having a month’s break in Sri Lanka before he goes back to the UK which he is not looking forward to but he has to go back for his girlfriend. I guess we are very lucky that both of us wanted to travel at the same time…

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Sleepy in Sihanoukville

23 Feb

We have been doing so little over the last few days that it is almost shameful but it has been lovely and relaxing. So much so, I can’t really contemplate doing anything ever again.

–       Craig has gone fishing a couple of times in the morning and has befriended a Russian man who helped him catch a 30cm fish and a squid

 –       We moved out of our last place as we heard lots of reports of theft from the bungalows. It also might have had something to do with this

Frogs in the bathroom were fine but hairy six inch seven-legged (probably from all the fighting with grown men) spiders are Not Ok. 

–       Went to an open-mic night…to find that a Gary Linekar lookalike was the sole act and played mainly lift music

 –       Spent many afternoons on the beach, lazing in these giant chairs which once you’re in them, it is nearly impossible to get out of because they are so comfortable

 

…and in the rare moment of motivation where we thought we ought to get off our sunloungers and do something, we hired a motorbike and our friend Andy took us to a secluded beach – we were the only ones on it – with the dog.

Craig and I were chatting away, me with one arm holding the dog (conked out, lolling over my arm) and the other holding Craig, going about 15 mph, not thinking about what we were doing when we realised we must have Cambodians in a former life as we fit right in with the other crazy people on the roads here!

After two swims, we went to a beachside bar where they have hammocks. We ate (Craig’s grouper was caught in front of us, can’t get much fresher than that)

and then collapsed into hammocks for the hottest part of the day, listening to the waves and the fluttering of the Cambodia bunting they’d got everywhere, the dog on my lap…needless to say the next hour flew by as we all had a doze :) and then a swim. The owners’ three dogs thought this was a brilliant idea and jumped in to join us

Unfortunately all the swimming washed the suncream off and I am now a colour that I believe is most favoured by pillar boxes.

 –       Namnam continues to draw in just as much attention and love from strangers and is going from strength to strength. He now wags his curly tail (previously straight from not having the energy to keep it upright!), puts some weight on his bad shoulder and stays awake for more than 5 minutes after eating everything in sight

…and on that note, we have found a new home for him! We went to a bar, Space Cats in Victory Hill, for drinks and a really nice chilli burger, and the owner Geordie said he would be happy to take him on and look after him. Namnam is going with him on Sunday to Phnom Penh for another checkup and potentially surgery if his shoulder is as bad as the vet thought. Geordie is a lovely Canandian with a Khmer wife, a six month old son and a couple of cats. The bar has a big garden for Namnam to run around in and I am sure he will be spoiled by all the customers. Namnam met Geordie’s mum yesterday and I think it was a close call as to whether she was going to smuggle him back overseas! Hopefully he gets the all-clear from the vet’s and Geordie can take him on. We are really happy that he is going to a great home :)

Exploring the mountains in Laos

30 Jan

The next day we woke up to lovely warm sunshine so decided to have a coffee upstairs outside by the guesthouse. We were are staying has seven wooden bungalows surrounding a little garden where I am writing this

and a main guesthouse. There is an outside area to eat and drink which is much more sociable than a hotel. The boys who got us the coffee immediately descended so they could try out their English…it was their first day of a kind of work experience arrangement where they study English at school amongst other subjects, and then practice it working in guesthouses or on tourist sites. They wanted to know everything, how old we were, where we had been, where we were going, what the temperature is like in England, what our hobbies were – coffee turned into An Audience With Craig and Sarah which when you’ve just woken up and have only been somewhere a day, was quite intense!

But they were very sweet and had a really cute habit of if when they didn’t know how to say something in English, they’d have a go but just say it really, really quietly :) They taught us the words for Hello (sabadee) and Thank you (cuptai) and laughed at our attempts to say all their names.

We wanted to see what we had missed in the dark bit of the bus journey so we went and got another motorbike (sigh) for 100,000 kip for the day. I hated this stupid bike

because unlike the other ones I’ve been on, it was a manual but with an automatic clutch so it was really jerky. It therefore felt even less safe than the previous ones so whereas I was happy going at a leisurely 30 km/h (and by happy I mean I could stop watching the road for holes/cockerels/children, unclench my hands from Craig’s trousers and look at what we were going past) but over 40 km/h was just too nervewracking as although the roads were quite compared to Vietnam, they are not in as good condition and this happens all the time

 

 

After about 15 minutes we had to stop as the back wheel had gone flat. Luckily, there’s a mechanic every 300 yards because this kind of thing happens all the time. So Craig pushed the bike back to the last one and with some pointing and smiling, we were soon sitting on little bamboo stools, having a cold drink and watching a man repair the tyre

It seems that two white people don’t often do this so we had an audience of our own – the mechanic’s friends actually stopped in their truck to watch us watch him. He patched it up in about 15 minutes and held up five fingers when it was time to pay. I thought this meant 50,000 so gave him that…and got 30,000 change. So two bottles of drink and a tyre change cost a whole £1.60. Reminds me why I left England!

We went out towards the mountains (there’s only one road so even I can’t get lost here!) and saw a little sign in English and Laos saying waterfall 2km. We headed off down the little dirt track and after some serious off-road scootering and trekking through some bushes, we found it

We paddled for a bit before turning round to come back home as we hadn’t had any breakfast or lunch, but on the way back we saw another handwritten sign – “caves, 5km”. We couldn’t go past that so off we went down another dirt track to find them. We soon discovered that it was actually just a quick way to kill tourists – there was a rope tied across the road (handily the same colour as the road) which I saw at the last minute so we stopped just time and a little old man came out and gave us tickets to the caves for 4,000 kip each and undid the rope so we could go over it.

We got to where the parking was for the caves and there was no one around. We walked down many, many steps

 

before coming to a cave that had a sign saying Hospital Cave. As we hadn’t planned to come here, we didn’t have a torch and it suddenly occurred to us that exploring caves in the dark wouldn’t be as much fun as we thought. We walked to the next one to find it was locked and had six huge beehives at the mouth

Worst tourist attraction ever? We turned round to find two guides behind us – we were obviously meant to wait for them when we parked :) They unlocked the gate and gave us torches and led us into the cave. It was enormous…it was used for residence during the war and at one point held 1,000 soldiers. It was hot and you had to squeeze through little gaps to get to bigger caves – we must have been in there for half an hour or so. The guides were very nice and although they didn’t speak English, they showed us their favourite formations and pointed out where bats were sleeping.

Then came the arduous climb back up the million steps to get back to the bike. The guides were giggling as they still had their coats on and hadn’t even broken a sweat, whereas we were puce and sweating. Two more English tourists turned up when we got back to where the bike was and looked positively alarmed until we explained that we had been climbing steps for 15 minutes :)

We got back on the bike to head home and have a shower. We thought we’d have a beer at the guesthouse before finding somewhere in the town to eat…and as soon as we sat down, the four boys leapt on us again with 44,000 questions. I had brought my laptop, hoping to be able to update this, but it soon had to be abandoned as they kept talking and talking. We ended up eating there was it easier, and then Trille, Bror and two other people staying here joined us so the boys lit the bonfire and had a lovely evening