Thursday, July 17, 2008

Max in Kep

In late 2006, my husband, Max and I moved to the coastal town of Kep due to my new job assignment and what a mad, roller-coaster experience it turned out to be! I would like to share with you one of our experiences. It appeared in our other blogs and since the post mentioned something about Max, I decided to re-post it here. Read on.


Reigning in Kep

After two weeks of workshop/project meeting in Phnom Penh and field visits to the pilot sites, I am now back in Kep... and we (R, Max and I) were welcomed by a heavy downpour. And it just wont stop raining!!

For a researcher based in the province, this means delay in planned activities. Rain brings difficulty in doing our work. For one, the soil in Kep, as in the countryside, is reddish and clay-ey. When its raining, the road is virtually un-passable... sticky, slippery, and will bury your vehicle (and you) if youre stubborn enough to go on. Our shoes and flip-flops get coated with the sticky soil, and hardens like cement when it dries up, making them impossible to wear again.

(Its still raining...)

With only a motorcycle (R says its not even a motorcycle, its merely a scooter!) as our means of transportation, we could get sick easily. Sore throat, cold, cough, fever, flu, etc. – name it - we may be unfortunate targets of all these. And not to mention the constant wet clothes syndrome, now, you picture that while we smell it :P.

Riding home from work (school for R, office for me, and chicken-chasing for Max) means dodging frogs, dogs, and all sorts of bugs. You can see the frogs and dogs by the reflection of the headlamp, haha, from their eyes (red-eyed frogs, can you believe it?). Bugs cant be avoided – they just hit you when you least expect it. One word of advise, shut your mouth while driving at night, or you might end up scraping bits of them off your teeth when you finally get home! Well, there are also bugs which target your eyes – but you cant close your eyes when youre driving, right? So what to do, any suggestions? Should I open my mouth so the bugs avoid my eyes, or should I close my mouth and open my eyes?

There is a positive side to riding at night, we see free lightshows courtesy of the yellow fireflies :D . There is no electricity yet in Kep, (although rumors abound about its imminent arrival), and the fireflies light our way to the guesthouse. Whether the fireflies remain when the electricity finally arrives, that remains to be seen.

We came home today in the afternoon and saw a mob of schoolchildren trying to coax a monkey out of an isolated roadside tree. The monkey looked terrified, and so did Max when the crowd turned to look at her. Shes a monkey-colored dog. She gave an alarmed glance as if to say -please hit the gas!.

Ive lost my top setOh, about Max. She goes with us to work, of course. We could not bear to leave her alone, lest we come home and find puppies everywhere. So shes side-saddled between me and R. She doesnt get motion-sickness at all, in fact, she likes it. She huddles behind R when it rains (its still raining), and puts her nose in the breeze when its sunny. And how she jumps at the sight of boy-dogs. Sigh. Yes, our Max is now a teenager. We dont allow her out without a chaperone. Villagers find Max highly amusing (funny face?) because shes tame and approachable. Unlike other dogs I know. Shes a good ice-breaker wherever we go. No she doesnt break the ice literally (I havent taught her karate chops), but she gets everyone talking.

(Its still raining...)
Well be spending the next few days visiting the target villages, all the people should be in when we go around because... it will still be RAINING!!!

Wednesdays and Saturdays are internet days. We go either to Kampot town or Kampong Trach (a district of Kampot) to read and reply to emails, and to update blogs as well. Dont ask me how far these places are from where we are staying, well find out – when it STOPS RAINING!!!

Now its stopped raining, thank heavens. But what to do at 9pm in Kep?

Generators provide some electricity here. Where we are staying, it is turned on at 5:45pm (dusk), and turned off at 5:45am (dawn). So to have a cup of hot coffee, Max gets R up at around 5:30am to turn the electric kettle on (the water boils in about 15mins). Later than that and he misses his usual morning caffeine fix. Of course he can get coffee at the restaurant, but hes still enjoying his new little coffee filter, the same kind the Vietnamese use. While me? Im still snoring, under the sheets, at 7am.

At night, theres not much to do. No tv, no radio, no nothing. We amuse ourselves by counting how many times R gets bitten by mozzies, and then connecting the dots. Or counting how many back flips can Max perform after sitting on ants. We also like to watch the spectacular sunsets and then count the tiny lights from the fishing boats catching squid in the sea. We eat the very same squid in the local restaurant the next day.

Here are some of our friendly neighbors:
polka-dotted gecko frog in Kep rhino beetle

The hotel crowd in the restaurant changes everyday. From the unwashed backpackers that dont want to leave, to French snobs who walk out after 20mins, falling from the backs of their motos as they leave!!! Oh what a lovely day that was. The guesthouse staff couldn’t hide the smiles on their faces. Even the moto driver couldnt suppress a giggle. I can still picture them now.

(Its started raining again.)

Just for a little atmosphere..... I can hear a quiet Bob Dylan coming from somewhere close, mixed in with the calls of frogs and crickets and the sound of raindrops hitting huge leaves. Theres a small lizard on the wall next to the bed, and a huge one over the outside of the door catching flies over the light. The mozzies are biting nicely (thank you) and Max is finally sleeping. I better go get some sleep now, for tomorrow, all three of us will brave the sunshine, hardyhar, and go to Kampong Trach to connect to the outside world.


MamaGirl said...

baw ah! wow max ha naunahan mo pa ko sa phuket, kainis ah. Where have you been na? kakita kana da sang partner hehehehehehe ;) eat well!