Thursday, April 26, 2007

a REAL NEW blog

Tuesday 24th April 2007

So this is my first new new blog since about January. I'm sure an awful lot has happened - some of it may even have been interesting- but I can't really remember what happened when right now. So I think I'll just give a basic outline of what's going on nowadays.

Some time- possibly back in march- I decamped from Mondulkiri to Phnom Penh. Mondulkiri was alright, but now I’m back in a city it’s hard to believe that I lived in a mud soaked and/or dust-strewn backwater. I have been basking in the delights of Indian food, Chinese food, bread, baked beans, and sometimes even draught beer and air conditioning!

At the moment I have 3 jobs- my main work is for a graphics shop ( where I sort of bugger about a bit with Photoshop. My 2nd job is flyering for Sunrise Guesthouse where I am living at the moment (I even have my own fan, toilet and shower!), and last but not least I do about one shift a week at The Magic Sponge which is a bar on the Lakeside, popular with ex-pats and backpackers alike- even a few locals come in to use the pool table.

I am sitting at the Chakra Visions shop as I type this- totally exhausted from working in the Magic Sponge last night. I don't have set hours because the sponge has no set opening hours (''6pm til bloody late") but Dan (the owner) said it'd be quiet and I should be able to close around midnight... I left at about 3:30am, only to be woken by some random phone call at 8am, that was it for slumber and I started work at 10 am. Tired...

SO what's happened? mmm It was New Year* here recently, which essentially means running water fights and talcum powder fights. And dancing in the streets around pot plants. Phnom Penh was deserted as everyone goes back top their hometown for new years and the majority of people in Phnom Penh have migrated from the provinces.
On the last official day of new years (it's officially 3 days long but parties started up a good 2 weeks in advance) I found myself sweating and exhausted in the guesthouse, I had worked til 5am in the sponge the night before but couldn't sleep cos it was too hot. So at about 11 I was talking to another guy at the guesthouse, he complained about the heat and I told him I knew of a place that had air-con and draught beer. After a quick shower each we hopped on a moto to The Pickled Parrot, which I forgot to mention also has a swanky pool table. After a few drink we decided we should fetch other people from the guesthouse to enjoy the aircon. On the way back we went past Watt Phnom where there were a few people hanging around, maybe a bit of water being flung about but nothing special. In the time it took to gather 4 people from the guesthouse and jump in a tuk-tuk Watt Phnom had exploded, hundreds or thousands of people were cramming the place, the streets were filled with motos and tuk-tuks. We decided to get some cold air, some cold beer, and some food before joining in the fun. An hour or so later we headed back to watt Phnom, stopping off at a shop to buy large bottles of water on the way. We each bought 2 litres and poked a whole through the lid so the bottles could be used a water pistols. Upon arriving at watt Phnom some people obviously thought we were bemused tourists and delighted in the opportunity to cover us with water and/or talcum powder, so as a united force we opened fire on everyone around us. ha harrrrrr
There were people at the watt selling talcum powder for 1000r (about 13p) so I bought some and lobbed it around a bit. People actually come up to you and rub it in your face- it's all in good humour. That was one of the most amazing things I've seen in Phnom Penh.

In the New Year I have taken to riding around the city on a push bike. I've been meaning to get one for ages. Using one makes the city seem much closer together- I can get from the lakeside to the riverside in a few minutes, pitsaa thmei is just up the roads as is the sorya centre (the western-style mall with a roller-skating rink at the top!). Also it means I get to know the streets a little better AND I get out in the sun. Until cycling I spent most of my time indoors, and travel was done on moto, which gets you there quicker so less exposure to the sun. Also, because the motodop needs paying you can’t just go down random streets and ride around for a while to see where you end up. This does happen sometimes but that's generally frustrating cos it means the motodop is lost.

Books: Urban Grimshaw and the shed crew.
Written by a self-important, big mouth bigot. It was an okay read about some kids born into a life of drink and drugs on rough housing estates in Leeds, but the guy who write it is a prick.

Mr. Nice - Howard Marks
Never read it before, it was more of less what you might expect from such a book-confusing in parts because of all the names and places and deals and whatnot. Howard marks also seems to feel the need to lie about his drug of choice saying that it is a ''beneficial herb with absolutely no negative side effects'.' The man has such a strong case for the decriminalisation of marijuana I've really no idea why he felt it necessary to tell porkis. We all know that smoking ANYTHING AT ALL is inherently bad for the user's health. And While Marijuana may appear demonstrably less addictive than nicotine, and may be provide relief for sufferers of chronic (no pun intended) arthritis, MS and other illnesses, as well as providing recreation for others, it IS dangerous to the user's health. Until the spokespeople in the pro-weed camp live in his real world they are not going to sound much more convincing than those who claim that decriminilisation/legalisation of marijuana will lead to the downfall of society.

''Remove head lice cheaply and easily by putting onion juice on your head. When the lice rub their eyes they will simply fall off!''

Started reading catch 22 but it doesn't seam so great.
Re-read The Subterraneans and Pic by Jack Kerouac, also bought a Keruoac Biography.
Read some trash called ''Idiots in the works'' nice idea about a man's theory about tin-foil, poorly executed though.

Also read a book by Jeremy Paxman about being English. I was surprised that he came out as less of a knob in the book that I've found him on TV. Some pretty spurious reasoning but on the whole more-or less acceptable.

*I've no idea why people continue to refer to it as ''Khmer New Year'' I find it sort of patronising: I understand Chinese New Year being called ''Chinese New Year'' When we're in Cambodia, and even ''International New Years day'' on 1st Jan. But I would never back home call it ''english/british/european/christian/business new year'' because that's the New Year I'm used to. I saw some people who run a kids education program get the kids to write happy New Year cards. They were in English which makes sense because that's part of the point of the program, to teach the kids English. But I don't understand why they told the kids to write ''happy Khmer new year'' like celebrating their traditional new year is odd in some way. I mean, apart from teaching the kids English - the profoundly imperialist language that is my first - and only- language, I think it's just too much to shape the kids minds in this way. It’s not Khmer New Year in Cambodia, its New Year!


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