Chuck Hillig's Travel Blog

Well, I'm going to be doing a lot of traveling over the next 6-7 months so I thought that I'd better re-activate my travel blog. The last time I posted anything here was way back in 2006 when I was traveling through SE Asia. Feel free to read my entries back then about my earlier adventures through India,Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, the Philippines and Hong Kong. This time (at least for the next six weeks), I'll be traveling through Greece and Turkey.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Swimming to Cambodia...

On Friday morning, I signed up to take a full-day tour of three of the local islands that are visible from both Seredipity and Occheuteal beaches. (Only US$15) Naturally, all of the tourists were westerners, and I shared the day with several more Brits and a young American originally from Texas. He's been teaching English in Japan for six months and was on holiday. After being in the boat for 45 minutes, we anchored off the first island and all jumped in the water to snorkel the reef. After an hour or so, we left for another island and pulled up onto the sand of a long white beach with some nearby unpainted shacks that were actually for rent. There was even a full, open-aired bar that everything was centered around and which catered to visitors from the mainland. It was run by a friendly fellow named Mitch who hailed from San Francisco. The half dozen rooms for rent on the beach cost US$10 a night and were simply 12 X 12 enclosed platforms on raised poles. No TV, A/C. screens, lights, etc. etc. All very primitive and with one nearby communal W/C for one and all. There were, of course, the ubiqutous German tourists sunning themselves when we arrived but there were only about 25 people on the entire beach...including the eight from our boat. We had a simple lunch beneath the palm trees consisting of BBQ baracuda, coleslaw and lots of sliced fruits. After lunch, we all hiked through the jungle to the other side of the island, where, believe it or not, there was yet another full, open-aired bar awaiting us. However, there were only a few people over on this side and there were no rooms to rent. This beach looked directly out on the Gulf of Thailand and so there were no picturesque islands to look at as there are on the other side. After lunch, we stopped at the third island to snorkel another reef. We returned to Occheuteal beach about 4 P.M. I hiked back to Seredipity and took a shower in my room. About 8 P.M., I walked back to Occheuteal beach and checked out some of the restaurants that sit near the water. I finally decided on one that had great sounding menu and about a dozen tables (3'X 2') lined up about six feet from the lapping water. All of the tables, of course, had candles and the service was very fast. I had an absolutely fantastic chicken kabob with a bowl of rice and two long island iced teas that set me back a whooping eight bucks. All of the restaurants on these two beaches here have open-aired bars, western music, lots of tables next to the water, cushioned couches, candles and thousands of colored twinkling lights.

On Saturday, I signed up for a trip to go to Ream National Park for the day. Again, everyone on the tour was either from Europe or the States. The trip took about 1.5 hours down this river towards the open sea. We finally pulled up onto this pristine beach that was totally deserted. The guides made us a BBQ baracuda lunch (I guess that's what all of the tours get) and the obligatory serving of cole slaw and sliced fruits. After splashing around in the water some more and checking out the unusual rock formations, we all trecked 1.5 hours through the jungle to the other side of the island where our boat was scheduled to meet us. Just before we arrived, however, we passed through a small village of about 100 people who lived in shacks that were built up on stilts. (A lot of the homes in the country are built off of the ground in order to take advantage of any cooling breezes that might be able to circulate beneather the structure. Also, the empty space provides shade for the house animals and for the hammocks that everyone seems to sleep in at night. About 40% of the population in Cambodia is under 15 years of age. The guide told me that, in this one village alone, 60 of the people were children with most families having five kids. We peeked in their "schoolhouse" which was stark, barren and unlit. In spite of living in conditions that many Americans would find appalling, Cambodians are certainly some of the friendliest people that I've come across in all of my travels. Lots of warm smiles and laughter. More later...


Blogger Chimene said...

LOL! TWO Long Island iced teas?! heheheh. Sounds like you're having a great time, Dad, and certainly getting your money's worth. I'm glad to know you're taking all those cool-o tours and what-not, too. How fun for you!
We're all really enjoying your blog and the captivating descriptions of your experiences.

8:00 PM  
Blogger johnjosephlee said...

Even though Chimene had sent me the link before I hadn't looked until now. What a great trip you are having. I had no idea that Cambodia had such nice places to vacation. I'm looking forward to reading about Angkor Wat. I've always wanted to go there and see the way the forest has blended into the temple. Great to read about it through your words.

Have a great trip,

8:20 PM  
Blogger johnjosephlee said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

8:20 PM  
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