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24.11.2010

One moment

We tend to take things and people for granted. I do anyway, sometimes. Though I try to remeber that I'm here only for a given time, it's difficult to remind myslef all the time about the fact that time has been working against me. We will all die. That's the fact of life. It's only a given time that we are here. That's why I think it's worth to look around and think about what is going on around us, where in life we are, what kind of relationships with people we have and change things we don't like. Especially when it comes to people: family and friends.

I have my issues with the family. Big issues which are to personal to be discussed here. I used to be angry at them, I used to hate them and tried to run away from them. I'm still angry at times, I must admit but not as intensly now. I guess when I've started understanding more about life things become less extreme - life isn't black and white only, and people are only people even if these people are parents and suppose to be perfect. But perfect they are not. And they are just people, sometimes lost, confused and struggling with life. Yes, they should be supportive and yes they should be there for us. And whatever I can say about my parents, no matter how angry I can be at tham I can say that they are trying to be supporive - sometimes in a way that I don't agree with but still.  I have this cofidence that regardless anything they are there for me. We've been through difficult times and beautiful days as well and we are the family. And it's not that I'm paiting a pretty picture here now being so many miles away from them... it's the fact that I love them and would do anything for my parents, brothers, a niece and nephews, and sisters-in-law. I hope they know how much I love them.

And friends. My friends from Poland and other places. I'm glad that I've met each of you. There are friendships which survived, there are those which didn't but I believe that I've met each and single person for the reason. I just want you to know that I think of you here in Asia and I miss you all loads. I wouldn't be here without your support. I hope that I won't fail you and I hope you'll be proud of me one day. I respect and admire so many of you for your strenght, stubborness, motivation, friendliness, openheartedness and many, many others. That was one particular day that it struck me: my birthday this year. We all sat at the table and I looked around and thought that it's a real treasure to have people like you around me. Thank you a lot.

I'm writing all this after the events in Phnom Penh. More than 300 people died: they were friends, they were members of families. More than 300 of the people who went to a concert never came back from it. How sad it is that in a moment you can loose everything. So lte's not take things and people for granted. Let's try to tell those who we care for that we care and love them. And not tomorrowbut now, today... because there isn't a guarantee that there'll be tomorrow.

 

22.11.2010

Every moment is good to change everything

It's time to decide what's really is important in life. I want to believe that I'm in a point that such decisions should be made. Don't want to be a teenager forever and I think that to certain extand that's what's been happening for a while. I decided tame my teenager in me, not to say goodbye alltogether as I love this crazy girl but... she needs to abdicate and give a way to a woman - a clever, strong, self-aware woman who I am but tend to forget about it.

Every moment is good to change everything.
And I need this change.

I want to be a better person for myslef because I deserve good things. A long way ahead of me but I'm worth it. And this is a change itself that I can finally say: I deserve good things from other people and from myslef. I should be my best friend.

I've come down a long way. I'm ready for the new to come.

16.10.2010

Sharing is Carrying - ABC's and Rice Action

As won't set up my own NGO, it would be useless in opinion as there are so many here already, I've decided to spread the word among my Polish friends and ask them to donate some money for the NGO called ABC's and Rice working in Siem Reap.
I really believe that together we can collect a few dollars and give it to the people who will know how to make use of it. I truly count on my friends' generosity.

I will soon publish my bank account number so that anyone who is interested and trust me, can transfer cash to it. After money's been colllected, I'll give it to ABC's and write a full report on what the money has been used for.
Tell your friends and families!!!

Sharing is carrying.
Here few dollars make a massive difference.

JOIN ME!!!

14.10.2010

Work, School... Bits and Pieces

I'm finally back to work. Or backish :-)




I'm working only two hours a day, which will change I hope in coming weeks. I guess I haven't made much of an effort in looking for more work. Gosh, I've been soooo unbeliveably lazy recently. So lazy that I've even neglacted my writing.

So true!!!



But a bit about schools in Cambodia

Cambodian educational system is very poor mostly due to lack of well-trained teachers. Intellectuals were killed by Pol Pot and so at the end of the war there was nobody who could train new staff. At the end of the war, as I was told, anybody who could read and write would teach other people the skills. Naturally, it's getting better and better these days but there's a long way ahead Cambodia. Well qualified teachers are in demand but...
Teachers are very badly paid (ha!!! that's new, hey?!)  I don't have exact figures but they earn something around 20 dollars a month (in a state school). They get so little that many teachers will charge students additionally for classes (I was recenlty told that in one of the schools students pay for they regular clesses around 500riel a day, $1=1000riel). The sum may be not big, but in a month it adds up to serious money and someof the poorest people really can't afford going to school. Although however, I've just read in LIFT, the additional to the Phom Penh Post, that this year high school graduates are best-prepared group of proscpect students in more than decade.

Universities are nests of bribery. It's a common knowledge that if you have money you don't really have to study. Buying a degree as easy as buying a motorbike. However, more and more people are becoming aware that a piece of paper is not everything and actually it should be backed by some practical skills. More and more knowlegable/reasonable people in Cambodia are trying to convice the youth that they actually should attend classes, that they should put some effort and make the most out of what they have the access to. It's well known here that Cambodian menpower loose by far the compoetiotion on the labour market with more skilled workers from Thailand or Vietnam. Lots of companies investing in Cambodia will outsource empoyees from these countries as often there are no well-qualified workers here. So, slackers beware as "Only highly qualified, multi-skilled and well-disciplined candidates will even warrant consideration from employers looking to fill high_level openings in business and organizationsfacing the need to meet international standards to remain comercially viable."

All this reminds me of what Poland is still going through when it comes to education.

Private univeristies are mashrooming.


There is some rudimentary ministerial control over them but once the school opens it produces masses of graduates with no skills whatsoever.
And everybody wants to be managers. Being a top executive here means that one is rich and doesn't have to do much. Rarely do students understand that such work needs particular knowlegde and years of experience.

I'm teaching for a profit-making school with headquaters in Phnom Phen. I taught there where I first came to Cambodia and it is a bit natural for me that I've returned. But actually I'm a bit disappointed with the fact that the institution hasn't much changed in last two years. The managemnet expects from the staff much but the thing is that everything here is ill-managed: mixed ability clesses to excess, the books are not well selected, students are not well placed. In one calss, I can have sometimes early high school and late university students, all at different levels. But the worst thing is that many students pay for courses just to get to another level without doing much. Of course not all the students. There are some smart cookies among them and to find them in priceless.



Anyway, I'm happy to be in a classroom again. I'm happy that I teach so few hours and I can, therefore, experimant with some of my new ideas. I teach for the kicks. I love it. I occasionally hate it too or rather I hate to admit sometimes that I haven't yet developed so many skills that teaching practice requires. This will come with time I believe.
I like my students a lot. They inspire me. Yes, the system is fucked up, true. Sometimes I'm annoyed with my learners that they quite don't get it that if they want to earn themselves better future, they should study. But I don't preach them, no. Who am I to do it? It's not my role. I will be happy if they learn anything. I'll be happy seeing them come to my clesses and not play truant. I'll be happy if some of them realize that people who come here care. I care even doing soooo as I am.

 A little about people here who care - more is coming soon



There are soooo, soooo many people who work for people here. It's just unbelieveable - people with open hearts, good-willed people who I'll write about soon.

This I recommend for the begining:

http://www.facebook.com/#!/group.php?gid=122668709163

http://www.abc-rice.com/


PLEASE HAVE A LOOK AT WHAT THESE PEOPLE DO HERE!!!

In addition
 We are fooding a bit here. The rainy season. The river is very, very high. Has flooded the other side of the bridge. We're still quite ok here. But I've got a feeling I'll need one of these soon:

 Actually, I could start a new trend here in Siem Reap. :-)

05.10.2010

Some Facts and Comments About Cambodia for a Good Start

It's been a week here and I feel that I should write something before I get so lazy as not to come anywhere close to the computer. Writing needs some discipline and these days... I'm not disciplined at all.

Anyway... I'm in Siem Reap, in the Siem Reap province in the Kingdom of Cambodia. I'll spend here a bit of time and I would like to give my readers some overview of what is going on in the country at the moment but also I would like to tell you more about the country's history. Yes, I believe that eveybody has heared about Angkor  Wat, Pol Pot and the Killing Fields but the country has much more to offer than this. I'll show you places to go in Siem Reap: restaurants, pubs, hotels, hostels. I'll write about expats who live here and their influence on the community both good and not so. I'll show you NGOs wroking here and helping Cambodians to build their country, country that was totally destroyed materially and intelectually . Cambodia will be my experiment in writing reports for you so that you know more and so I understand deeper what these people here are about.

Quick Overview

Cambodia faces the whole array of problems: poverty, lack of good education, corruption, lack of basic infastructure, violation of human rights, to name only few. With Laos, Cambodia remain one of the poorest countries in the region of South-East Asia. According to International Monetary Found (2009), Cambodia's GDP ammounts to 2,015 international dollars, putting it in the 145th place in the world (there are 181 countries on the list)."Between one third and one half of its 13 million people live in abject poverty on less than USD1 per day, and the number rise every year." (John Tully, A Short History of Cambodia, Silkworm Books, 2006, p. 229)
In the same book we read that almost 50% of the country's budget relies on foreign aid donations which, unfortunately, are so often embezelled and stole by greedy officials. It seems that everybody takes money here: policemen, high-school and university teachers, clerks, doctors - anyone who has any kind of power.

Prostitution and child prostitution are big, though the governement is trying to take some steps to prevent it. Two years ago I spoke to girls and asked why they did it, they'd smile and say that if not this, they'd rot somewhere in the countrysite. It's their job that allows them to support their impoverished families, their children and helps them to survive. It would be a mistake, however, to think that prostitution is driven only by the demand from Western men. Brothels are massively popular among local men who sometimes tend to treat women worse than their motorbikes.

I know that the picure I've just painted is not a pretty one. But it's just one side. Cambodia has it's bright side too: crazy music that so many Westeners hate as it'll wake up you at 5 am blasting from laudspeakers to announce a wedding or a funeral and continues to balst for a few consecutive days. Cambodia has its ghosts and believes, celebrations and offerings, festivals... and all these so oriental, so interesting and captivating. All these to be discovered. :-)

30.09.2010

Getting to Cambodia Without Paying for a Visa and to Siem Reap in a Comfortable Mercedes... Aslo Free of Charge

I spent about 36 hours in a bus travelling from Kuala Lumpur to Siem Reap. Gosh, that was a ride! I must say, though, that this time the journey was nice and smooth, I had to change buses only twice and I didn't have to travel at nihht alone with some dodgy people dropping me off for the bus. The vehicles were really nice and comfortable so I was even able to get some decent amount of sleep. It was just my arse that was sore after sitting too much. It really hurt me as hell.
I had originally planned to stop in Bangkok for a day or two but then was dropped at the bus station from which buses to the Cambodian border depart. The bus to the border turned to be leaving in 30 minutes, so I just thought that I might as well hop in it and go. And so I did. The ride, which was five hours, cost me 227 Bat, which is nothing. If I was going with a travel agency, I'd probably have to pay around USD30 to Siem Reap. And I went for about six bucks, which is really nice. So I advise anyone who is planning to travel around Thailand/Cambodia to use local  transport, especially in Thailand. It's really well developed, cheap and not so difficult to figure schedules out.
Got on the bus, got my sandwiches from a bus company, unfolded my seat and very comfotably started the journey to the border.
On the bus I met a Japanese girl who was going to Siem Reap as well. We didn't talk much, just exchanged few words about the arrival time. Satani is leaving in Cambodia with her husband, as I learnt later, who co-ordinates TV projects for Japanese broadcasters and currenty he si doing something for Japanese TV in Laos. Before she told me all this, however, we got to the border town, Ayatuya... or something like this and together took a tuk-tuk to the check point, which Satani offered. Cool! Off we wnet to the border.


And now strange things started happening...
Poipet, the border crossing, Cambodian side


We went through Thai passport control. I'm already on the other side and I know that I need a visa so I'm looking for a place to apply for one. I've foung an office, rcking into it.The officer gives me a form to fill, I'm asking a few questions about my visa and regualtions... No, I can't get six-month business visa on arrival, just one month one. To extend it I'll have to go Phnom Phenn. Ok, cool, I'm fine with that... I'm applying for a business visa, right? To get one, the requirement is that I need a latter from an institution confirming that I'm actually entering the country on business porposes. I don't have such a letter and I'm actually surprised that the oficers need one from me... Finding out that I don't have any documents with me, the officer told me that getting me through will cost me additional USD. So, for all proceedings I'm supposed to pay USD30. And I'm fine with it. So, I'm filling the form, the passport is already taken from me. I just need to fill my arrival card and I can go. But before I'm handing theofficer a twenty-dollar note thinking that I've given him fifty bucks. When he realizes he comes to meand says that I've given him to little and he want ten bucks more. Oh, I'm sorry and I'm giving him fifty dollars. So, it's done. I've got my passport back but not a sign of my change. I'm approaching the officer asking for my twenty dollars back. I can tell that he is a bit confused, surprised with my requests. |He quielty confesses that: "I don't have small money". I'm replying that I don't care, I already have my passport in my hand, that I don't care and I want my change.



Right... Can you believe? There is no USD20 note in the whole place, at the border crossing where all the transactions are held in dollars. No money. I repeated again that I want my change back and to my surprise the officer is giving me my fifty dollars BACK saying :"It's ok, ok.... Just go". What? Now I was surprised but decided to do as I was told before che changes his mind. Went out from the office, holding my pasport in massive disbelief... started walking faster and faster, almost running to the passprta and visa control counter. And I'm thinking: "Ok, I'll probably be asked to cash there..." and was ready to pay. But NO!!!! NO, NO, NO. Nobody asked for anything and so I was let in Cambodia saving USD 30. Not bad hey? :-)
But this is not the end.
For all this time, and the whole event with visa took around 10 minutes, Satani, my Japanese friend, is somewhere around. Now, we are at the Cambodian side already and now she is telling me that if I want to I can go to Siem Reap with her. She was waiting for a driver to arrive and pick her up. Really? Is it really happening? Not only had I entered the country for free but alsno now I'm being offered a ride which the offer will save me soooo much time. I s it really happening? It was indeed. The driver arrived and we were taken to Siem Reap in a very comfortable A?C Mercedes-Benz van. The whole car just for us. Not bad, hey? :-)
In Siem Reap we exchanged our phone numbers as I'm planning to invite Satani for a coffee or something nice to eat and this way thenak her for making my life so much easier.



And yey!!!! I'm in Siem Reap. Was dropped in the Pub Street area to have a quick look at. Went to Funky Monkey for a beer, left my heavy backpack there and went to Aqua - the swimming pool where I expected to see John. Wasn't disappointed.
What a surprise, hey? I said that I'll be back :-)
Then John called Annie and after a welcome beers and a joint, I went to check in Annie's. She took me out then for a few more beers and local traditional AMOK (I'll write more about food later). I was introduced to some new arrivals in Siem Reap, people who arrived after I had left. Anyway, it'll take me some time to catch up but the begining was/is great.
It was and still is a bit surreal that I'm here. I couldn't be happier. The house is as beautiful as I remember it... my room has an AC unit, a fan if I didn't like A/C, a big comfortable bed... what else could I ask for? Perfect environment to start going with my work. But not today. Today is a day to roam the town and check the place out for new pubs, restaurants, hotels, evants so that I can write about it all here.


Cambodia... here I am :-)

25.09.2010

Questions from Malaysians and my Contemplations about Stuff, Plus Some Press

Interesting here is that 89% of people I talk to is interested in: firstly, my marital status, secondly my age and thirdly, my confession.
It's just right after I pronounce my name when the question pops up: "Are you married?" "No", I respond. Hmmm, they look at me surprised and ask me why it is that I haven't tied a knot yet. Well, then I go round in circles... you know, it hasn't happend to  me yet... What am I supposed to tell them? Should I tell them that each time I hooked up with somebody there has always been something wrong from the very beginning (apart form one time in high school)? I was either too young, or he was too old; timing not right... circumstances.... somebody else interfered... not enough faith that things will work out... too fast, too slow, bad vibes, horoscopes not compatible... Should I tell them that basically I attract men who are incapable of making any serious commitments telling me, that's from recent experiences: "Let's not plan. You never know what the future holds." Sure, for fuck sake, nobody knows. 'You never know what the future holds'- a stupid-childish-get lost mate excuse. So what do I say? I say that I'm too young to get married :-)

'How old are you?' Twenty-seven, going twenty-eight. Uuuuuuu, they look at me surprised and scratch their heads scrutinizing my face, checking me out top-bottom. Too young?! 'Girl,'they seem to want to tell me', you are miles behind the hills already!!! Wake up!!!!!!!!! To young, right. And so they share their stories: got married at the age of 18, have three or four children and they are happy. Actually, I was tempted to write that they are not but people I've met are happy. And I can see it. Maybe they think less with their heads and more with their hearts. Whatever it is, they can't believe that at my age I haven't got a family. I can't believe it myself, to be honest.

I've never said that I don't want to raise the family. I want. A lot. Yes, I dream about a little house in the country, a garden, a cat sitting on a fence, children running around and me sitting in a rocking chair waiting for my beloved hubby to come back from work. And so what? So why do I feel like an idiot? Why do I think that this dream is soooo outdated, naive and childish. And yes, I know that a little house will turn into something like a sad block of flats without a garden but... but a dream is a dream.
I feel grown up enough to have such a dream. I've done things, I'm still doing them. I've had enough time to find out things about myself and the world. I'm ready to start another chapter in my life. Being a teenager for the whole life is not fun, I think. Hmmm, anyway I feel like an idiot writing it. And why? Because that's not what one should say. No, no, no... It's too serious. And we don't like serious there days.

I was supposed to go on to the third question about the confession but... but I'll return to it later. The previous two drained me a bit and a headache started. :-)

A few updates from the press.

1. About the abused maid from Indonesia

The accused couple claimed trial two days ago. They face charges for human trafficking, for which maximum sentence id 20 years behind the bars. 

Governments in Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur stated that the case is a criminal case and not government-to-government issue. At the same time, the government in Jakarta thanked the Malaysian officials for handling the case so quickly.

2. DRUGS

In a nutshell: they are illegal. The government and the police are very serious about any psychoactive substances. For distributing drugs, under Segtion 39B of the Drugs Act 1952, there is a MANDATORY DEATH PENALTY through hanging. So drugs here is a big no-no. Recently I have read about two cases related to the issue: one about a rais organised but the anti-drugs police, a raid on a durian plantation. Lots of stuff was fund - I haven't got a newspaper with me now, but mostly synthetics. The other case - a student caught... Poor guy will have lots of trouble.
So guys, if you think about using in Malaysia - think twice. Not a good idea.


3. Education


I wrote before that Malaysia aims at improving their educational system so students become competitive and knowledgeable workforce domestically and internationally. Here is a comment about domination of Western theories and ideas about politics, economy and communication. The comment was made by former prime minister of Malaysia Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad when addressing more than 500 students at University Sains Islam Malaysia (Usim). He said that Western political, economical and communicative theories failed to deliver best solutions to the world's problems and that Muslims shout strive to come up with their own solutions. "Because we are so tied up with these Western philosophies, the world is faced with moral, social and economic crises. We have begun to feel that what we have inherited and what is taught in Islam is not appropriate and outdated. We even feel lowly when faces with theories and thoughts from the West, although theirs are not religion-based," said the ex-prime minister. He also called for making passion for knowledge, exploration and research adding that if these disappear, Muslims will be colonized.



There's soooo much more to it but I'll finish here as the clock is ticking, the Internet is relatively expensive and my head is going to explode in a sec, so I'm off to get some fresh air and a cigarette.... What?! It just doesn't make any sense. Whatever.

24.09.2010

Some news from Malaysia. Talks of the day - from local English language newspapers

Having calculated everything, with deep sadness and regret, I conclude that I cannot afford to jungle. Bummer!!! Well, you can't have everything, can you? I'm leaving soon to Peneng instead from where I'm hoping on the bus to Bangkok. I was told it is a direct connection but... I somehow don't believe it.

I've been here for more than two weeks. Got stuck a bit really. I's been a great holiday away from the hustle and bustle of the city but... It's time to head Cambodia as I have things to do there and time flies. I'm planning a long stay there but... we all know how it is and how one can get lazy, then postpone things... and in the end it turns out that the deadline is approaching and the panic starts. I want to avoid this panic and do things on time. Slowly but surely.

The jungle will wait. I will have to. Anyway, I'll be coming back to Asia every so often so nothing has been lost(silver lining).

I'll be in Penang early in the morning and I'm trying to find somewhere cheap to stay online but it doesn't loo pretty... :-) Very expesive is this Malaysia counrty. Expensive but sooooo interesting, indeed.


MALAYSIAN HEADLINES

On of my favourite things right behind smoking cigarettes, drinking coffee and sex :-) (although the order should be reversed) is reading newspapers, which the activity is even more interesting in a foreign country. It gives a bit of the insight into what the nation is talking about. So, I'll try to brief you shortly in what Malaysia is talking about these days.


1. 1Malaysia Campagin

There are three major ethinc groups here: Malay, Chinese and Hindu. Their cultures, religions and food mingle with one another but the country isn't free from ethnic problems and inequalities. Thus, the 1Malaysia concept and campaign was introduced.


"1Malaysia is intended to provide a free and open forum to discuss the things that matter deeply to us as a Nation. It provides a chance to express and explore the many perspectives of our fellow citizens. What makes Malaysia unique is the diversity of our peoples. 1Malaysia’s goal is to preserve and enhance this unity in diversity which has always been our strength and remains our best hope for the future. I hope this website will initiate an open and vital dialogue exploring our Malaysian identity, our purpose, and direction. I encourage each of you to join me in defining our Malaysia and the role we must play in its future. Each of us – despite our differences – shares a desire for a better tomorrow. Each of us wants opportunity, respect, friendship, and understanding." (from http://www.1malaysia.com.my/about/about-1malaysia/)


Posters with slogans calling for creating a unified nation seem to be everywhere: in the streets, squares, public buildings. All the effort is to make people feel Malays; not Chinese, not Hindu or Muslim but most of all Malays. In the press people from various groups discuss how to achieve this unity and all the eyes are at teachers and educators who are supposed to talk to and teach students about tolerance.

2. The Mid-Autumn Festival, also known as the Moon Festival, referred to as the Lantern Festival or Mooncake Festival.

In Kuala Lumpur the main attractions were organized in the Chinatown area: dance shows, exhibitions and of course mooncake eating.
But the festival is not only about eating but also about buying lanterns or building them. So, this year, as one could read in one of the KL's dailies: "Octopus lanterns sell out." This year for the first time ever, lanterns came in the octopus-like shapes and sold out like hot cakes (mooncakes - people had to queue for hours to get these). It seems also, as the New Straits Times suggests, that old-fashioned traditional candle-lit lanterns are back in a game. "Battery operated lanterns were popular some years back, but people seem to appreciate handmade lanterns more nowadays." Apparently, a traditional lantern strikes the better mood.

3. Malaysia-Indonesia Crisis due to abused Indonesian maid who was found in Penang

So there are people from Indonesia coming to work here and one of the common professions for women is tending rich Malay's houses. This unfortunate case when revealed cause a lot of tension between Kuala Lumpur and Jakrta. "Biker horde tells Malaysian envoy to go home." There was a protest organized in front of the Malay Embassy in Jakarta. The participants said the they are giving the Malay envoy two days to leave the country. The protesters  threatened to go to shopping centres and ask Malaysian tourists to leave the country. The police assisted the protesters and bar their entry to the shopping malls. The governments are investigating the case. A couple from Panang, who hired the maid, was arrested on the September 19th.

4. Paris Hilton is not coming to KL....

We could read last night that paris Hilton cancelled her trip to Kuala Lumpur due to unexpected trouble at the airport in Japan.

Hilton was denied entry to the Country of Cherry Blossoms due to drug offences. Japan has very sever laws when it comes to drugs and anybody previously penalized for drugs-related incidents will be banned from the country. In the past celebrities such as the Rolling Stones and Paul McCartney had problems with admission to Japan. It is said that Paris stood a chance to get permission from the justice minister had she informed authorities about her arrival earlier. But the princess decided to just show up a day after being convicted. As a result of all this fuss, Paris left Asia and cancelled her trips to Kuala Lumpur and Jakarta, where she was to introduce her new lines of clothes and perfume. On her departure she twitted: Going home now. So disappointed to miss my fans in Asia. I promise to come back soon. I love you all. Love Paris xoxox."

OMG!!! Paris, you've surely disappointed masses. NOT.

And what is going on in our wild country?

23.09.2010

Melaka, Malacca... a day in the town

I was supposed to go to the jungle but my friend Annis disappeared for two days without telling me where he was going. The problem was the I had the keys to the house and I didn't want to leave the house. So I stayed in for the whole day yesterday, which was nice after the two whole days spent in Kuala Lumpur running around the city. Today though, I woke up and decided that I have to do something no matter what and took off to Malacca. It's only an hour bus ride from Seremban, where I'm staying so I as well could always come back if Annis called me.
Good decision!!! Had a great time, took some nice pictures, which I'll upload later. History? Well, if anybody interested find out in Wikipedia, there lot's of info on the net :-)

Everybody is really friendly here in Malaysia. I guess I like it here more than in Thailand which the country got so much spoilt by tourists that they don't care any more. Here taxi drivers don't nag you, you don't want to go, you don't go - just say it and nobody will follow you, which at times is strange... all in all you get used to this Asian-lady, lady tuk-tuk style after being here for a while. In Cambodia, when I finally get there, I'll have a lot of pestering for sure.

 I'm so happy that I'm here. And I'm even happier that I'm doing all these things by myself. Of course, sometimes it wuold be nice to have somebody to talk to, but then... well, people will approach me and talk, so actually the problem is solved. I have a voice recorder on me too - when worst comes to worst, I can always talk to myself, can't I? Travelling solo is good. It gives you the feeling that you can do things yourself. It tests your patience and stamina, your mental strenght. You start believing in your abilities: you have to face some challenges, you are responsible for yourself. Nobody here. Just you... Just me. Without a map even.

Travelling without a map

This is maybe not the best idea but gives you some thrills. I didn't have a map of Kuala Lumpur and managed to explore the city. It's good to read some thing on the Net, though. It definitely saves time but then... I ask people, students usually. Or I stumble on some sites and here we go... a nice surprise. Something interesting. But basically, apart from the Internet people are my sources of information. I talk to them when the wait for buses, in temples, in the street, in shops, everywhere. And they are willing to talk, which is fantastic. But if somebody doesn't like getting lost and roaming around, a map will do and a guidebook. But... no matter what, there must be some kind of a plan. My plan is to get to this National Park and cross the world's longest suspended bridge. Maybe tomorrow will be the day :-)? Me don't know it yet.

I can't wait Cambodia though. Cambodia, Cambo, Bodia... Angkor... Mmmmmm....

18.09.2010

Shopping in Malaysia

Thailand was cheap but here prices are the same as at home. I went shopping a few times already and to my horror I spent more than I'd  ever expected to spend in SEA,

So if anyone is interested here are exapmles of prices (1RM=1PLN)

- 300g minced chicken meat - 8.15RM
- 4 prawns - big ones - 11.02 RM
- 4 tomatoes - 2.30 RM
- a small coconut milk - 1.50RM
- tom yum paste - 3.40 RM
- cabbage (medium size) - 4.00 RM

The shopping was done in Tesco, which here is called JUSCO.

Eating out is cheaper a bit than cooking at home and that's why we prefer cooking home. Though, sometimes Annis brings some Indian food for a change. People here really know how to prepare curry, masalas and all that stuff that back home cost a fortune. I've learnt how to cook an Indian curry - I'm adding the recipe to my list of cusine from SEA. I can't wait to cook it for friends.

Today is my turn to cook again!!! :-) Meat balls on the menu.
Cheers everybody!

16.09.2010

A trip to Malaysia

It was supposed to be a direct bus from BKK to KL. It was supposed to be there at 7 p.m on the September 12th. It was...
I got on the bus on time with seven other people who were going to the islands. I was the only one heading KL which didn't bothe me too much as I still believed I was going there on one and the same bus. We started at 7 p.m on the 9/11. Bags in the storage and off we go. I was tired so I fall asleep immediately, the we stopped for some food and a cigarette. In the bus again. Then at 4 am the driver woke us up and quick, quick off the bus. What the hell? So I knew that there is no direct bus to KL any more. We are waiting. Meanwhile the people travelling with me discover that their bags were searched through. Mine as well. But nothing was taken as there wasn't anything of any value for out Thai friends. But the feeling wasn't particularly comfortable. It's like somebody burgles your home... So we are waiting. I'm going to a lady at the counter of someting that was supposed to resemble tourist agency and asked after my bus. It'll be in 20 minutes I heared. OK!!! Cool! But the bus didn't come. A pickup drove by an really ugly, old, one-eyed Thai did and I was asked to get in a car. What?! Sure you didn't confuse me with somebody else? Am I really supposed to go with this man? My mother told me once never to get in a car with strange men, especially at 4.30 am somewhere in SEA. It's pitch black dark, humid, the only sounds you hear are crickets and dogs barking in the distance. Well. what the hell, I thought. I need to go, I need to go. If he wants to kill me, he will kill me anyway :-) Luckily the driver wasn't interested at all in killing, raping or stealing. Dropped me off at yet another agency. What? I was ordered to wait to be picked up to the bus station. Before that, however, I was scammed. Actually I allowed this. So the lady told me that I won't get to Malaysia without a return ticket, which, of course, I have to purchase from her. A return ticket? I've never read anything about a need on one. I resisted at first but she was so persistent that I gave up and bought it. Shit!!! I knew that any word she was saying was true. Where is my common sense? Anyway, I ended up being escorted to yet another waiting place, where I was told that the BUS departs at 6.30 so I had an hour to kill. In a nutshell, there wasn't any bus. There was a mini van that didn't leave the city until if got full, of course.
Will I be in KL at 7 pm? No way!!!, somebody told me. OK. No problem. That all happened in Surat Thani.
Ok, I'm in a van happy that the journey had started again and I was moving forward. Are we going to KL now? NO!!!!! The next stop is in Hat Yai, the town 4 hours from the Malaysian border. Hmmm. Another 4 hours in a nini van in the company of people from the Czech and a guy from Alaska. The time flew quiclky. At the border it was crazy!!! Apparently the ramadan had finished few days before and Muslims from Malaysia were travelling to and from Thailand going or returning from their holiday. Hmmm, so many things have to be taken into consideration when traveling. I'd never come up with an idea of checking a Muslim calendar. It was a mayhem at the border but surprisingly it took us only 2 hours to get through. Happy that I'm already on the other side I'm asking: are we going to KL now? Hahahah, no.
Phanang is the next stop. We'll be there at 4 6 pm. Aha. And when in Kl? Nobody knows. I wasn't so much worried about the delay but about the fact that Annis, my Malaysian friend, told me he'll be waiting for me in KL.
It's late afternoon and we're getting to Phanang. What about KL? The bus to KL at 22.00pm and in KL at 4 am on the 13th. At least I got something concrete. Luckily I wasn't alone. I met Olivier who was going to Borneo through KL and again the time flew fast on chatting, eating and smoking cigarettes. Well, I was smoking. Of course the bus was late. In the end I got to KL in the morning and was picked up by Annis.

Clonclusions:
- there's no direct bus from BKK to KL
- be prepared for bags searching when on the bus
- be patient
- stay cool
- enjoy the experience.

I've been to Malaysia for 4 days now. I haven't seen much yet apart from everyday laife of my froend Annis and his fiance, which is the topic for next post.

I have the whole time in the world to read, sit and take notes. I can sleep as much as I want and I cook for my friend Polish cusine. Today we are having golabki. Last night Annis cooked Indian curry that took my breath away. The day before yesterday Annis's girlfriend cooked. And so we're finding a commomn platform in the kitchen.
Miss you all people there!!!!

10.09.2010

And some more





















Some poetry at the entrance to the MBK shopping centre in BKK

The young King at the back and a bus from Kho San Road to my lovely hostel
To the canals I was going.
In the canals people come and go. Talking about Michelangelo????
Water trains come and go.


Lots of clothes
And some more

The King is watching
The trip to the Ocean Centre was the worst spent money ever but... it was worth to see this lovely creature.
MBK
I've found you, NEMO!!! Too bad that in prison.