Monday, April 23, 2007

a little delayed..

Phnom Penh - Koh Kong (Friday 5th January 2007)

So I'm in a taxi and the 1st thing I notice is that there is a VCD machine with an LCD display. Cambodia is a cheap country but even so that's a swanky piece of kit for a car. It's playing karaoke of course. One song features a group of men and a group of women dancing, and I suppose the main purpose if each group is singing to their counterpart. I have no idea as the only words I manage to decipher are "I"/"me" and "woman". Anyway, I find the dance the girls are doing charmingly attractive and even sexy, though it is not in the least sexual.

The next thing I notice as we head off is - I think at the time - a good thing. There are a total of 6 people in this taxi, a Toyota Camry comfortably, and advisedly accommodates 5 people, but it is common practice for 8 or 9 to fit. A bonus I think, there's the driver, and a father with his small child in the front, the kid is sitting on his lap so it's hardly an extra person at all. In the back there's me at one end, the guy at the other end has a mobile phone and everyone knows it. He annoys me 1st. Soon though, he is beaten by the guy in between us. I can only describe him as a "YOUTH." He has a flash mobile phone on which he was watching some god-awful Khmer pop videos - no doubt these were "cool" videos as people were shown that "looked like bands" though the music sounded very similar to other Khmer pop music, the videos to which invariably involve a boy, a girl, motos, and either a beach or a shopping centre. Oh, and someone crying.
[Pete Waterman says there are only 4 pop songs "I love you", "I hate you", "Go away", and "Come back"]

Anyway, he starts fannying around with his phone whilst the other guy is shouting down his mobile - as a Khmer is wont to do when using a mobile telecommunications device - the VCD is still playing (3 songs on repeat) and the kid in the front is playing with the little toy keyboard his dad bought off a street peddler before we got into the taxi, so it's something of a cacophony. Then the "YOUTH" starts singing along to one of his karaoke videos, whilst simultaneously taking up more space on my side of the back seat. This is about when he secures poll position in the annoyance league. Happily, at some point a radio is turned on (I think instead of the VCD) and although it does nothing at all to reduce the noise, the DJ announces a request "Mouse Likes Rice." This song was made (in)famous on an earlier taxi trip (Phnom Penh to Mondulkiri) when the taxi driver had the CD case but no CD. The title ("Mice Likes Rice" (sic)) and cover of the ripped market version our taxi driver had was enough for us to talk it into a classic. This request at least confirmed it's popularity. It's also when I find out it's a Khmer pop love song in English about a girl who loves a boy "as the mouse loves rice." So I'm happy for a while.

That is until the "YOUTH" falls asleep and insists on using me as a pillow. He turns out to be a noisy sleeper. All kinds of noisy emissions, though none that I have any words for. All very unpleasant when gushed into one's ear by a stranger whilst stuck to the door of a taxi, I can assure you.

Soon after this unpleasantness begins, I also notice that as well as my hearing and sense of touch being violated by this "YOUTH", another sense is being affronted. Yes, my olfactory appendage soon senses an affront to it's very existence, a mockery of it's intended purpose if you will (y'know breathing in fresh flowers after the rain, catching the smell of fresh bread from a country bakery in the morning, the scent of a beautiful girl's hair...) by way of the unnerving stench emanating from my taxi bunk companion. O f course, the smell causes me to take surreptitious looks at this "YOUTH" even though he is asleep, you never can be too careful, so I peek out of the corners of my eyes and only then is it that I realise he has the kind of acne that would be funny were it not so painfully and unbelievably true.

The state of the "YOUTH's" appearance, the smell he's sharing with me, as well as the moist warmth he forces upon me - in his changing sleeping positions his arm pit is pressed firmly against me "This "YOUTH" has it all!" I think when I've added hyperactive sweat glands to my mental list - causes me to make further sneaky peeks at the sensory fun park/disaster area/ghost train.. one, two, three... I don't know how many peeks I took but at some point I did notice something else - dandruff! The fairy on the xmas tree! The icing on the cake! The glitter on the card!(!!!) The "YOUTH" made me ITCH ALL OVER!!

So I suppose the ride is going okay, the time is ticking by without boredom setting in or even having chance to before I discover something awful and new about my friend.
Soon we stop, and Businessy McBusinessman gets out - the 2nd stop that seems to have been scheduled just for him - and then returns with 3 fucking cockerels! That's when I realise that some of the noises I have been hearing that I'd assumed were some sort of rattle somewhere on the car were in fact coming from one of the woven bags at the businessman's feet - 3 fucking fighting cocks! That's why there's no other passengers - Bastard McFuckCunt on his mobile phone must have bought up the extra space for his boys. Prick. So now there's 6 people and 6 fighting cocks. Great. At some point we stop again, there's some exchange and I lose count of how many birds are aboard, somewhere between 6 and 9 (at the end of the journey I think I saw 7 being unloaded). So I try to get my head around this. it's hard. I imagine asking a taxi driver in the UK "Er, yea, how much to take me, 4 people, half a dozen fighting cocks, and a bit of luggage to the border mate?"
Needless to say Arsehole McBusinessWank returns to top of the hatred pops.

At the 1st ferry we get to (there're a few bridges under construction on the route so we get 4 ferries across maybe 200-400m wide rivers) I get out to stretch my legs. I notice shortly after that a cockerel is standing on the driver's seat "Great," I think "that useless blood junky fuckface has somehow managed to let out of his "investments" get out of it's transport thingy. Fucking idiot!"
Later on I get back in to the taxi and it seems that I have got it all very wrong! No, no, no... the fighting cock did not escape, he let I tout, and 2 others. Y'know, just to hang out in the cab, with a small child present, 3 of them! Highly proud creatures, on a bumpy road, in a hot car, probably scared. Fuck's sake.
So basically I'm shitting myself the rest of the way, I'm sure one of those feathered fuckers has got his mean, beady eye on me. I have difficulty reading my book a) because I'm trying to keep an eye on 3 birds at the same time, and b) the angle I have chosen to read my book at was not chosen for it being the easiest position to read the book, rather the position that offers most facial protection should one or more of the cockerels attempt to savage me.
[Cockerel in Khmer is 'Mo-an']

This story continues... though I have run out of energy right now.... Tune in at a later date for more unbelievable tales of border crossings, taxi driver's dodgy deals, and the bonus taxi jack 'treated' me to as a reward for spending 4 days on the road......

Thursday(?) 12-01-2007

Today I saw 3 elephants and a snake. the snake was red and a bit black and it scared Sarim. She got all excited and kept pointing at it, I’m not entirely sure what she expected it to do, or me to do. I just stood around and watched it make it's way out of the garden. Sarim was convinced it was heading for the toilet, now I have never claimed to be an expert in all things snakey, but I'm reasonably sure few snake-like aminals (yea, I said 'aminals') are toilet trained.

How many snakes you seen today, huh? I bet NONE! and if you say you seen more than me I will call you a FILTHY ROTTEN LIAR!!

THOUGH: I think it is time to cut my beard off, a Finnish guy was in the bar yesterday and asked if I had any Ozric Tentacles stuff on my laptop.


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