Break Down the Lost so that You Can be Found

I am a searcher, a lurker whose seeks a mission in work and life. I’ve never been one to stay still for too long.  I have not accomplished what I seek because  I didn’t know what that was and now that I have an idea of the story I seek to craft it is scaring me shitless. I think I’m supposed to feel that way. It isn’t supposed to be simple or easy. It doesn’t mean its impossible just that it will be a challenge you’ll have to rise to meet.

It is about a belief that you havr value ans as I travel I can see my faults and strength mirrores in my complete removal from the world I am accustomed to. What I see are moments of possibility amoung a sea of doubt and shame. I say I wear my shame like a cloak and I have but to this voice I give it a much needed farewell.

I can’t just be rid of you because we know each to well and more you than me cause usually I pretend you don’t exist. I’ve become really good at hiding or locking you away but shame always makes it’s presence known and that can no longer be the case going forward. Its time to walk with more swagger than trepidation.  Its time to obsessively believe that my story can be given a tangibility beyond my mind’s eye and that it has value.

Travel for me is about the down times as much as it is about the sights and views of a world where her people are still searching for a better tomorrow. I don’t know what’s going to happen and I will be one edge but that’s a good thing.

Each day I will write more on these two story ideas. The reason I have 2 is to switch it up in case I get writers block on the other. Now its time to find a process that works, I will find my writer’s rhythm, a beat that must be played and melody that must be hummed so that it has impact on someone out there.

So that’s my mission, if anyone is reading this and that is a long shot thanks for listening and see you in the story,  that’s what we create each day, our own story where are the hero slaying the beast in whatever form it takes.

Me a motorbike, a crack dealer (who tried to be a thief) and a hooker – Sounds more fun than it was LOL

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So I have been in Vietnam for a few days and last night I went out with friends of a friend Anna who’s been showing me around Saigon. I didn’t know what to expect when I came to Ho Chi Minh City otherwise known as Saigon but if you keep what you know from history at the gates you get to see like any Southeast Asian city its growing metropolis that is at the heart of Vietnam culture.

It’s impressive to see how far the country has come since the war that came to define it in the eyes of many westerners and it is interesting to see how the victor writes the win and the horror of those times compared to how the great power the USA writes its place in the conflict.

I saw a Catholic Church, their replica of Notre Dame, which was decked in red brick and although it looked the same it lacks the murals and artistry of the original. I’m traveling during the rainy season so make sure you bring a rain coat or buy a disposable one for the cheap.

So last night was my first real night out and it was with locals that I just met through Anna. I am way more careful than ever before but there is only so much you can control and last night just reminds me of that fact.

In Vietnam I am trying to live cheaply, in Saigon I find that accommodations are way cheaper than food and drink. Food can be really cheap or really expensive as everywhere in Southeast Asia is full of those contrasts and Vietnam brings that into focus for me even more.

If you want cheap local fare you can get it and live very cheap and that’s my plan but when you are out and about that can easily rise 5 to 10 times more really really fast. I spent just a little over my budget of 20 dollars for everything but that’s going to happen no matter what.

I met some cool people, many locals, a French man and a Filipino walk into a bar …. met the crew through Anna Nguyen and ended up going to 3 cool spots. One was a Mexican place where l went with 2 other girls and met 2 new people, an American guy and a singer. The cover was either 110k or buy a drink so I was out and ordered one drink and got another.

They gave me something else that I didn’t want and when I told them I never ordered it I brought it to them. I thought they would  give me the 333 but they didn’t but they didn’t and instead as a sorry we got a plate of fresh fruit. Then we went to Lush which was just around the corner which was like any bar you have ever come across.

Lush was definitely western in look and feel and it was ladies night so a great night for the girls with free drinks at the ready if they could get through the line. So for the especially the ones I was there to meet they had a great time dancing the night, they kept on about it being lunar Valentine’s Day I thought that was just another excuse for the bare to charge more and for companies to sell more stuff lol.

So as we left when I was on my own taking a motorbike home the shit really hit the fan. Anna’s friend told me to take a motorbike home, we weren’t that far from where I needed to go and she said don’t pay more than 20k or 30k for it. We were just blocks or 2 km from it so 40k would have been a rip off. A guy comes up and we go. Another guy on a motorbike and keeps on offering me coke and not the drink.

I say no no no. We end up stopping and creepy looking dude is still following us. He ends up trying to rip off the necklace I was wearing when we stop close to my hostel. He goes for it twice, and ends up breaking it. It doesn’t have much value I wear it because I always have.  I was like WTF do I have a kick me sign on me or something cause what the hell.

The dealer ends up running off like the parasite he truly is and after that there is no way I am going to pay my motorbike driver more. I give him 20k and walk off. I was done, it wasn’t far from my hotel, he said he wants 30k, I say no way 25k but after thinking for a second about what could have happened I givr him 20. It wasn’t far I nearly get robbed and because this driver had to talk to this creepy ass guy I end up having a necklace I’ve had for year’s broken.

So the place looks totally different at night, I stop by a Circle K to ask someone how to get to where I need to go.  I meet a Canadian girl from Thunder Bay and we talk for 10 minutes. So when I head outside I find the bull sign and knew where I was.

It always happens to me at the end but a lady or lady boy and another girl wearing white make-up pass me and keep on mr as I walk to my hostel trying to get me to sleep with her, it’s easy they say and cheap. I look at them snd they ugly and creepy as sin but they keep on me until I tell them flst out go away.

So that was my night, I didn’t want to spend a lot and instead get a chance to meet a bunch of new people which is good. A crazy motorbike trying to sell me crack, then who tries to steal from me but fails and runs like the kicked dog he was and then st 2am a desperate hooker tries and fails to get into my pants. At least be hot, this girl was alright but her pimp gave off had this been doing this too long kind of despair about her.

Come on I’m gonna say no but to have a chance don’t act like a leech, if you are sexy you don’t need to act, if you act like a person not a whore then you’ll have s chance and someone will go for it. Not me cause I was sober and even drunk I would need to be on the verge to even be tempted and these 2 we just sadly just working too hard for a Tuesday night but it was a Tuesday who is judt happy that she ain’t Monday but here in this part of the world every day can be  Friday in the right spot.

Costing it Out in Vietnam

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So I have been in Vietnam for a few days and last night I went out with friends of a friend Anna who’s been showing me around Saigon. I didn’t know what to expect when I came to Ho Chi Minh City otherwise known as Saigon but if you keep what you know from history at the gates you get to see like any Southeast Asian city its growing metropolis that is at the heart of Vietnam culture.

The best part was seeing the city through Anna’s eyes, its getting that little bit of insight that you can only know if you live and breath not just the city but the culture as well. It’s the little things, good places to eat, areas with great views, the best bakery in town.

It’s that for which you travel not just the huge sights and sounds but for me its those small moments that I will carry with me through my travels and that I want to seep into the story I seek to write.

It’s impressive to see how far the country has come since the war that came to define it in the eyes of many westerners and it is interesting to see how the victor writes the win and the horror compared to how the great power the USA writes its place in the conflict.

So last night was my first real night out and it was with locals that I just met through Anna. I am way more careful than ever before but there is only so much you can control and last night just reminds me of that fact.

In Vietnam I am trying to live cheaply, in Saigon I find that accommodations are way cheaper than food and drink. Food can be really cheap or really expensive as everywhere in Southeast Asia is full of those contrasts and Vietnam brings that into focus for me even more.

If you want cheap local fare you can get it and live very cheap and that’s my plan but when you are out and about that can easily rise 5 to 10 times more really really fast. I spent just a little over my budget of 20 dollars for everything but that’s going to happen no matter what.

I write every dime spent so it helps me to understand what I’m spending. In Vietnam as a foreigner its good to have a mix of US dollars and DONG the local currency. You will pay for food and drink in DONG and most accommodation you can get in one or the other.

For example I’m staying at the An Tam 3 Hotel in the backpacker area of Saigon. It costs me $5 USD or pay 110k DONG but that actually converts to 105k. So if I pay in DONG I pay 25 cents more. I know its nothing really but when you want to travel for a long time, every cent matters.

You want to enjoy yourself but you can’t do everything so last night’s fun was just over budget but if I pay for my place in USD it curbs it just a bit. I actually only have $100 USD left but going to use that for accommodations and try my hand finally at couchsurfing to save a bit more. That means I get to meet more people, share the experience and maybe teach some people more about Canada and such.

last night was fun, spent way more than I thought I was going to but them the breaks. I’ll have just to spend less the next week and take it easy for awhile, no big tours for me until sometime next week.

That’s the plan but plans change fast, I am careful already and this just means I have to take it up a few notches more.

Ankor Wat A Rememberance of the best the Khmer are Capable of

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Siem Reap is the base from which horde goes to walk, tuk tuk, and or bike through Aknor Wat, the temples are that perfect photo opportunity and monument to a people at their apex. While Aknor Wat is named for the first grand temple complex, the area is littered with temples dedicated to Gods, projects whose scope seems defy expectations whose meaning ans reason for being is still hidden from view from most of the public.

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Before we get to Aknor Wat lets talk about Siem Reap, a tourist trap designed for the endless flow of people who come to marvel at the ancient Wats and temples. The town is very walkable and though there are a high number of tul tuks positioned everywhere you can make your way from on end of town to the other in two or three hours just by walking.

I stayed at the Siem Reap Garden Villa Inn which is actually an old converted French villa with high ceilings and a great old look that gives the place some nice character. Aknor Wat costs $20 USD a day and if you do two days you can get the 3rd for free.

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There are many ways to so the temples, you can hire a tuk tuk for anyhere from $12 usd and up. They always start at the high ens of the spectrum but ypu can always gwt a bargian if you haggle. They will take you through Aknor Wat and the surrounding temples. The tuk tuks have several tours available for tourists a mini tour thay goes through the main temples, a grand tour take takes you through some of the smaller locales and other ones. If you are pressws for times its a relatively easy way to see Aknor.

I did the mini tour and grand tour in the same day and got around to 9 temples in a day. I think all the temples started looking the same at about temple 6. There are tour guides around giving tourists history on each site and it may be good to talk with them or tag alone on of their tours as they go if they speak your language if you want to know the history behind the sights.

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I didn’t think I would have the time but I ended up in Siem Reap for 2 days more I would have just rented a bike and go through the temples on my own. Most of the temples are just a few km apart from each other so if you have a few days to spend there I think that’s the best option.

Remember that there are people who live in and around the temples and there are bike trails that are devoid of the tourist throngs and are just used my locals that are worth checking out if you can find them. I had a beer with one of the guys who worked at my hotel and he told me about the trails that litter the region but remain local.

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One of the things you will see in Siem Reap is references to Tomb Raider. They even call Aknor Thom the Tomb Raider temple. It is a temple complex who has been taken back by the jungle and you will find that The trees have grown around the complex blending stone and trees in a way that makes the complex feel like its being taken back by nature.

When I went to the complex it started to rain and the kids came out and started asking you to buy ponchos almost immediately. It was a warm rain so I didn’t actually mind the water.  The good thing about it was that it as soon as the rain started the tourist groups vanished back into their buses leaving Aknor Thom to the lome wanders who braved the rain.

The rain was amazing because it gave the temple an eriee feeling. It make the temple darker. As I sat on some rubble underneath a huge tree who seemed to grow around the roulck as much as it was through it. I saw and felt the rain come down as I gazed at this enormous tree and it was one of those sights you don’t forget.

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I spent 10 hours wandering the ruins climbing as high as you were allowed to go in some of the complexes. You can feel the history of a people still searching for where to a generation after Pol Pot not just as a people but as a society tat had built one of the world’s great wonders.

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Siem Reap is easy to navigate, watch out for the beggers. When I went school had just ended and the kids wee out in force with their sad eyes asking for monry. As with everywhere thwy can smell tourist and will come at you with a mission to make a withdrawal from you which always made me feel like a human ATM.

There are restaurants all over catering to every palate possible but if you want to eat cheap go for street food which offers the best bamg for your buck you will find anywhere. Just make sure that if its a meat they cook it in feount of you or choose a place that’s very busy and where the food doesn’t sit there long.

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Aknor Wat is Cambodia’s jewel. That is why you go to Cambodia in the first place and although it isn’t cheap it is worth seeing it if only to understand and marvel of how they tamed the jungle and made cities that still stand today. The people have been through the crucible and are still finding their way from the darkness. Let us hope that the memory of Aknor spurs their imagination for whatever is to come in the years ahead.

This post is still rough as I am doing it via my phone. Thanks for anyone that comes across this and onwards to the mysteries of the future.

Cambodia – The Start of the Journey through Battambang

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Cambodia is a country of richies and pain, a culture who more than a generation after the Khmer Rouge, the killing fields and Pol Pot Cambodia is still a country of vast contradictions.  I didn’t spend a lot of time in Cambodia and only saw brief glimpses into its tortured soul but what I found is that her people are resilient.  Even though they have been through horror they are lookimg forward not wallowing in their past, the scars are still present but they are less a reminder of the dark and instead show how far the Khmer people have come with their cultural spirit intact.

They have been through the crucible and made it out of the other side. Her intellectual riches cut at the knees but what they are capable of still stands as Ankor Wat and the temples that surround her show the best of what the Khmer are capable of achieving.

When I left Thailand I took a bus destined for the Casino wasteland that hover on the border. Right on the border are a wide swath of Casinos that call to Thai’s who seek the edge and thrill that gambling provides but that Thailand disallows.

The casino bus leaves at 7 am everyday from Lumphini Park taking intrwpid gamblers so that the house can releive them of their hard earned BAHT. It is way cheaper than any of the other options I found in Khaosan road which ranged from 1000 baht to 1600 baht.

The bus cost 200 baht and took 3-4 hours and once across the border you had to find your own way to whatever destination you were heading to. Me and Maddie who was also traveling to cambodia took a shares taxi for a total of 700 baht to the city of Battambang.

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This city wa devoid of the usual tourist trappings and was completely local in its feel and ambience. It is home to the bat cave where nightly a stream of millioms of bats but on a show that only nature could provide. Between 4 and 5 pm the bats stream out of their cliff bound cave to feed on the morsels in the sky. It ends up looking like a thread spreading outward from its spool.

We went to the killing cave that brought death to many and drips what was a cave carved wat into a sorrow stained hole. Battambang seems less like a city and more like a large town. It feels smaller than its population suggests. It sits on a river and there is no building higher than 4 or 5 stories.

We stayed at the Royal Hotel but all the hotels I saw had the same look and same signs except for the names. It reminded me of sim city like someone just copied and pasted the exterior of all the hotels for each one.

There are a few temples and even a Pepsi bottling plant that still feels as if its frozen in time. Left in the rise of of the Khmer Rouge and left as a memory of what was and a potential still not yet fully realized today. We took a cooking class from the chef of the Smoking Pot in Battambang. The chef brougjmht us to the local market where we bought ingredients and got to cook 2 dishes.

Beyond learning a bit of their culinary history my favorite part was taking to the owner who revealled he prefers the cooking class to the restaurant. I think because he can interact with his students it makes it more personal and engaging for him. The cooking class was $10 and well worth it. We started at 10 am but he usually starts a bit earlier. At the end of the class we were given a cook book with local Khmer recipes ready for creation by those willing to give it a try.

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The next day we said goodbye to Battambang and began to make our way to Siem Reap and Cambodia’s cultural magna opus that is Aknor, not just Aknor What but its fields of temples and projects that defined the Khmer people before its golden age receded from global memory.

We were traveling in the heart of rainy season where the river flooding makes it possible to go from Battambang to Siem Reap by boat via a long 6 hour boat ride that goes through a narrow twisting river that empties into a flooded lake and passes through the many floating villages that dot the river’s edge and the lake’s shore.

That was my introduction to Cambodia ans her people, Siem Reap would bring in a new texture. A tourist trap to rival any in the region made for westerners and full of beggers, merchants and bars for all your needs.

Cambodia works on a 2 currency system where prices are quoted in $ and change given in a mix of $ and riel. 1 USD is 4000 riel with 1000 riel being equivalent to .25 cents. While accomdation is cheaper than you would find in Thailand food is more expensive in part because it is priced in dollars. I found this meant I didn’t have as much eoom to maneuver on price because a lot of goods were priced .50 cents or 1 dollar or more.

Its just something you should be mindful of when budgeting for Cambodia.  So next I’ll get into Aknor and the mysteries within its long silent walls.

NOTE – This post is s bit rough cause I’m doing it on my phone but I will add links and do some much needed editing when I can get to a computer.

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