Monday, November 20, 2006

DEAD LONG arrival business

I’m writing this in the office, I’m going to upload it later; tomorrow maybe (today is Monday).

So I’ve been in mondulkiri for a week now. People who've been in Cambodia for months or traveling for a while all seem to ask me what I notice, or miss or what seems weird. At the moment everything seems to make sense, I reckon this could be partly because of the way I got here: from Dudley to Heathrow- Heathrow to Bangkok where I decided to go in to the city rather that loiter at the airport- then Bangkok to Phnom Penh where I stayed for the night (1st sleep for 2 days) and then up early to travel 8 hours north to mondulkiri, check into my guest house, eat, then sleep.

I saw so many places and people... i think 2 long car journeys, 3 aeroplanes, a couple of buses, several encounters with customs, using 3 currencies and being awake for 2 days straight just led to information overload which meant that nothing seemed to stand out as being odd. E.g. why should a dirt runway in a town with no streetlights strike me as peculiar when just a few hours back i was sitting in bangkok thinking about the tourist info i was being shown about jordan on my plane when i'm heading to cambodia?

Anyway, when I arrived in Phnom Penh at about 9 am the sky was clear, the sun was bright and it was dry and hot (Bangkok seemed comparatively cool) and after dealing with the slightly mardy immigration (but we expect that, right?) I got outside the dollhouse-esque airport to find -with some relief- jack was waiting for me. we got in his truck (sans seatbelts) and did what people do in Phnom Penh- horns beeped, motos squeezed through spaces that were too small for the single moto next to them.. Baptism of fire. Then on to the guesthouse which was partly flooded so we had to wade through a "moat" to gain entry, but it was nice inside and there really was a fantastic view of the lake.

after lunch we went to a gathering on someone’s rooftop which overlooked the river- I arrived in the middle of the water festival so the street below us was heaving with people, mostly locals I assume but the rural folks were noticeable by the way they literally clung to each other in the crowds that they clearly were not used to-I could see virtual conga lines of what must've been extended families or groups of coworkers snaking through the crowd. So yea, we had a great spot to watch the boat races (no one could figure out who was racing who, nor were we able to identify any winners) and the huge boats covered in lights, and later on the fireworks. After all this we went for a drink at the peculiarly named Magic Sponge, a western owned bar that all western people in Phnom Penh seem to know, and then I went in the early hours of Monday morning to bed for the 1st time since Friday morning. Apart from the guesthouse’s cat scaring the shit out of me it was a good sleep.

My 1st experience of a Phnong village was after a 9 hour drive across the country, I’m sure I was still suffering jet lag. The 1st thing that jumped out at me was a dog's head on a stick. I've heard that Phnong eat dog (though I have not seen any confirmation) and i understand that they use them to hunt. Yet I cannot fathom why they would put a dog's head on a stick on the edge of the village- not just a dog's head though, I mean, I don't understand why they would put any animal's head there. But the fact remains that there was only a dog's head on a stick, no pig, cow, chicken etc.
I went back to the village this morning (9 days later) and it's still there which I am also confused by, it hasn't been scavenged, washed away, decomposed or taken over by maggots. An enchanted decapitation perhaps?

More to come


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