The red shadow 

So I finally arrived in Cambodia.  I had been advised to get the visa online to save time but it takes 3 days to get it processed and by the time I was ready to leave it was too late.  So I got at the airport of Phnom Penh without a visa and was already prepared to have to go through long lines and boring procedures when in the end it all took me about 15 minutes (and I also saved some 10$ comparing to online visa). 

The hostel I had reserved promised to send someone at the airport to pick me up but when I got there you guess it, nobody was waiting for me.  I bought a SIM card and started to talk with Whitney,  a girl from the US that was on the same plane as me.  We were going in the same direction so we decided to split the cost of a tuk tuk.  

We jumped in and the first thing we were told was to watch our bags.  Snatching bags and mobiles phones is pretty common here in Cambodia and so we were on the know. The traffic was pretty bad,  Thailand style and it took us about an hour to get to our destination.  

At the moment to check in at Billabong hotel and hostel I was preceded by a group of French Chinese and so I had to wait and be patient.  About ten minutes later I finally managed to do my check-in and I was then showed to my room. 

EditDorms here are pretty big and spacious.  I got a lower bunk bed as requested and the locker is so big that my entire backpack fits in.  Fantastic! That night I went for dinner with a couple of very nice Japanese guys that were staying in my dorm.  Walking around the city we managed to find this place where only locals go.  The food was good,  big and cheap.  The day after together with Hiro and So we decided to go to the killing fields

I remember when I was a kid that in the news they talked about the Khmer Rouge but I didn’t know much about the history of Cambodia and what really happened here. So when I decided to go to the killing fields I was not really aware of what I would have found.  We got there in about 30 minutes with rented motorbikes and paid the 5 dollars entry fee.  The audio guide was explaining what every stop was and what happened there.  Shivers were running down my spine and the memory went automatically to my visit to Auschwitz.  The atrocities that human kind can commit are really inexplicable.  I cannot understand or accept that someone in their right mind can do something so terrible to some other human being (or animal for that matter). Violence has no justification or motive in my mind and I really struggle to understand what happened in Cambodia or in Germany/Poland under the Nazis. 

To finish with the horror tour the following day I went to visit the genocide museum aka S21 a former school turned into torture zone during the Khmer Rouge occupation.

Phnom Penh is not a nice city.  It’s chaotic and there are areas where you don’t want to go at night (I almost got my phone stolen one night).  The only positive thing in my opinion is that there are plenty of vegetarian restaurants around the city.  I only had time to visit a few but the food there was very good.  

I went to EVERGREEN for breakfast.  I had a plate of noodles pretty big and then shared a yummy soup with my friend.  For dinner I went to VEGETARIAN 1000 a buffet like place where you can choose from different trays of food and they cost 1000 or 2000 riels (25/50c). The last day I went for breakfast to Surn Yi vegetarian restaurant and had noodles and mock pork.  Although the “pork” was pretty good,  the noodles were very poor, they didn’t taste of anything but maybe it was just my plate.  The choice in this place is pretty big and it is very popular according to Trip Advisor. 

I made it out of Phnom Penh direction Kep because I needed a rest from the chaos and noise of the big city. 

Kep is a small village four hour drive from Phnom Penh,  towards the coast.  I checked in at Kepmandou Lounge a nice and small hostel by the beach built from wood in a cabin style.  Clean and nice,  very quiet at night.  It rained almost all the time during the 2 days I was there but I just needed to rest so I didn’t mind.  I caught up on some movies that I wanted to see and just chilled. 

After Kep it was time to move to Sihanoukville where I was to start my next volunteering period on Sunday.  Sihanoukville is a city known for its tourism.  It’s not interesting in an artistic or historical way but my hostel was a little outside town,  once again by the beach and I was looking forward to enjoy my peaceful time…. Never have I been so wrong. At Footprints the dorm is just upstairs from the bar area.  The place is made of wood and there are no walls.  I went to bed around 11 pm and the music was still full blast (in any other hostel I have been the music stops at 10/10.30pm the latest). I actually had to go downstairs and ask to tone the music down a little.  At 3 am I woke up and there were still people at the bar chatting and laughing as of it was during the day.  The music came from the outside.  Somewhere not far away somebody was playing full blast techno  music.  And they didn’t stop until 8 am. The manager of the hostel apologized to me a thousand time but the damage was done.  I also thought to move to another hostel but I was too lazy and I only had one night left.  The second night was better,  no music from the outside but the bar closed at midnight.  Bu.t that night I was in kinda good mood as I had a very good pizza at Jin’s with Carlos a guy from Barcelona met on the bus from Kep. 

So,  comes Sunday and Roy,  my host comes and pick me up.  We drive for about 30 minutes and we arrive in Ream. He’s a Brit that lived for many years in Thailand and them moved to Cambodia with his Thai wife.  They are getting ready a resort by the river with bungalows and animals, the Ream Yacht club.  They need help with fixing and painting and here I am.  The place is in the middle of nowhere but that’s the charm of it.  The silence here is deafening and nature rules.  I just love it here. 

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The bubble 

So… Where to start… 

I’ve been in KL for more than one month now and I think it’s time for me to move on. The time spent here it’s been good,  a needed a little nest to make home for a little while.  Travelling is cool but it’s also tiring and every now and then is good to go back to the comfort zone. 

But yeah my time here is up.  I realized it yesterday. It took me time to buy the ticket to Cambodia.  And not only because of the problems I had with my credit card (yes.  It’s been cloned… but this is another story…).  It’s been difficult to make up my mind and buy the ticket because I was good here in KL,  I had a home again and it was nice to settle down in the everyday routine.  But luckily for me KL is not the place I wanna settle down again.  It’s a big city but still very human in a way.  The prices are honest (apart from the rent,  like in Barcelona basically) and the food is good.  But the dark side of it all is that people here are very busy, for real or not. 

It’s really hard to meet anybody,  let alone get to know them.  Via couchsurfing and other apps I got in touch with hundreds of people (not kidding) but I managed to meet only a few.  They’re all super interested in meeting with you but you can never get a date from them.  And when you finally get a date they cancel at the last moment.  Or you meet,  all goes well,  “let’s meet again ” but again never comes.  You have to organize with at least a couple of weeks in advance.  It’s true that distance here can be discouraging and that public transportation is awful but still… There is always something else in the middle. Commitment is a word that is not really taken into consideration in KL.  The enthusiasm is killed easily.  I feel like they are collecting chats or friends in CS or FB.  The virtual word is waaaaaay more important that the real one.  Even when people go out together they are checking their phones all the time.  There is always someone or something else capturing their attention.  They’re there but not really. I’ve wasted so much time and energy try to connect with locals and in the end I was so frustrated that I decided not to open any app anymore. 

I have only a few days left in KL.  Time to finish my classes (to be discussed in next chapter)  and then I’m off to Phnom Penh.  I’m really looking forward to visit Cambodia.  A change of scenery will do me good. 

Pink clouds in my plate 

In Yogyakarta I checked in at “House of Nasi Bungkus” (Ngestiharjo, Kasihan, Bantul Regency, Special Region of Yogyakarta 55184). It’s a bit far from the center but the view on the rice fields is gorgeous. Besides they give bikes for free so after checking in I got on a bicycle and pedalled my way to town (20 minutes) where I met with Roberto, a Spanish guy met at Malang hostel.

We met at the “food street” where everyone gathered at nightfall after fasting for Ramadan. The street is packed with people, cars, motorbikes and all sorts of amusement and “business”. Food prices are higher than usual but we managed to get our noodles (vegetarian for me of course!!!) for around 1€.
After food we wanted to go for a beer but we discovered that it is not so easy to get one as in Bali for instance. The further west you move in Indonesia, the stronger is Islam influence, therefore getting alcohol in this area can be quite a challenge.
Not able to get our craved for beer we called it a night and headed to our respective hostels.
I was SO looking forward for a good night sleep but to my big disappointment at 4am the choirs started to play outside the windows and it was impossible to sleep. When the prayers were finished (at around 5), I managed to fall asleep only to be woken up not even two hours later by the songs coming from a school (my guess) not very far. There goes my quite night in the rice fields!!!

After breakfast I checked out of the hostel and borrowed a bike to go downtown and meet with Dea, a very fine young lady that contacted me via Couchsurfing. We took a long walk around town (very unusual here in Asia where walking is just for the poor!!!) and talked of everything. She is very curious about the world outside Asia and asked me plenty of questions about Europe and our lifestyle.

I left Dea and headed back to the hostel to get my backpack and move to a couchsurfer who has a home stay but sometimes gives one of the rooms to couchsurfers. 

At dinner time (6pm) I met once again with Roberto. We wanted to go to Merapi volcano but we realized that it would take a lot of stress and money (leave at 11pm. Get at volcano 2 hours later. Hicking steep for 4 hours and back for about 30€) so we decided to skip it and just enjoy the evening in the center.
We were both looking for food that was not Asian for a change and ended up in this place in a small alley just off the main food street where we had burger and French fries and also managed to finally have a beer!!!
Very happy with our food we parted and said our goodbyes as the following day I was going to Semerang for one day and Roberto would leave town also. I didn’t visit the temples that are close to the city as the entrance is pretty expensive (25$ each) and travelling on a budget I have to make choices. I found the price too high especially because people that went there told me that they’re not spectacular and I felt that it was not worth it. Wanting to spend almost a year travelling I really need to be careful with my budget and sometimes I have to give things up.

I arrived in Semerang where I met with Sigit, a young local CSer. His house is big and very nice and has also a wonderful little garden! 

He took me to the “Brown Canyon ” and at night we went in town and walked around with Sigit giving me some information about the town and telling me his projects for the future. He taught himself 6 languages and counting and he dreams of leaving Indonesia.

Following day I’m back on the train on my way to Bundung where I booked a bed in “Buton Backpacker Lodge” (Jl. Buton No.14, Kb. Pisang, Sumur Bandung, Kota Bandung, Jawa Barat 40112) a super nice and extremely clean hostel. For dinner I went to “KUNST house” (Jawa Barat, Jl. Buton No.1, Kb. Pisang, Sumur Bandung, Kota Bandung, Jawa Barat 40112) where I dined with a delicious – although a little greasy – Rosti. After that I met in Braga st. with Tora (a couchsurfer) and his guests from Poland to have a beer.

After spending a very resting night at the hostel, and after a very generous breakfast I moved to Tora as Polish guys were hitchhiking their way to Bali. These are the final days of Ramadan and all public transportation is fully booked. Everyone is moving back to their hometown as on the last day of Ramadan is tradition to have a big celebration with all your family and so it’s hard to find a spot on trains or buses.

Tora is a very funny guy, full of joy with a very contagious laughter. He took me to the governor house (apparently a Bantung landmark) and to the monument dedicated to the war heroes. The afternoon we chilled at his place and at night we had dinner at a food stall near his house where I have nasi goreng (fried rice) that was served with pink clouds!

The morning after I moved to Jakarta but just because I wanted to go to Sumatra and Jakarta was the only option.  The trains and buses fully booked it’s hard to move around! 

I arrived in Jakarta without any expectations as everybody told me it was a very crowded and dirty city but with my surprise I found the city not so bad and the people very friendly. The only problem I had was finding the hostel as my phone finally decided to abandon me and so I was lost without Google Maps. I asked everyone around the area where the hostel was supposed to be but no one knew anything. I got on the wrong train, it took me more than 1 1/2 hour (opposed to 50min) to get to the right station as the train I was on arrived at one stop before I was supposed to change and backed up… and once again lost in translation… When I managed to get to the right station my phone died and have been walking around for an hour (not kidding) to find the hostel that was just 5 minutes away from the station. I arrived I was pissed off and sweaty. I checked in and was given an upper bed on the bunk. The only problem is that the upper bed is at more than 2 meters from the floor… and obviously getting off of it the first time I fell… Nothing serious just hurt a bit my back.  

The hostel is called Teduh Hostel (Jl. Pintu Besar Selatan No.82M, RT.1/RW.5, Pinangsia, Tamansari, Kota Jakarta Barat, Daerah Khusus Ibukota) and a part from the “sky high” beds, it’s OK. Clean, quiet and with a nice kitchen. Tomorrow at 10am I leave on a bus to Sumatra the one before the last stop in Indonesia.