Post series: South East Asia

What Were We Thinking (and other ramblings)

Lavender, France
From our trip to the lavender fields of France

A few months ago (who can remember exactly when), we decided to go on another trip.
I, Thor, wanted to see the rest of the world (south america and Antarctis). Both Amy and I wanted to visit friends and family.
At some point Amy has to have some continuity and get a career in Denmark and at some point we will make a family and then it’s hard to travel long-term.

Not now, though. Not now. Now it’s easy. Amy and I both quit our jobs and on a rainy day in August 2018 we took a plane to Vietnam. (And that answers the title question:))

We just came back from 10 days on Iceland – and what a blast!

Looking forward, at this point in time, we knew that we would be heading to Vietnam to plan our wedding July, 2019 and to visit Amy’s family. I’d be meeting her parents for the first time. Gasp!

We also knew we’d be going to Indonesia for a work opportunity.

Japan was on the itinerary to visit my, now, good friend JJ who was doing a sheep show there and my Niece, Tyra, who was doing half a year of study abroad on her asian studies degree

Finally, since this was also our honeymoon, we had (one-way) tickets to HawaiiUSA.

 

After this we’d be going to central America, Guatemala, South America, Antarctics. Possibly – plans change.

 

All this and home for christmas… or in january…

 

Keep looking back at this page. We’ll try to keep it updated. As well as on social media

Instagram

Facebook

Also follow my pursuit of weight loss (sorry it’s in danish)

 

Thor and Amy!

The Future of Sihanoukville, Cambodia and the Surrounding Areas

Joe raised his glass and shouted “To another season!!” and emptied it. Joe is the owner of Seagarden at Otres Beach near Sihanoukville, Cambodia and today is his birthday.

For the last year or so, Otres Beach has been under the threat of being completely removed. Currently 50-something laid back chilled beach establishments fills up the space – most of them run by expat westerners that found their happiness here. The staff is a mix of locals and westerners – the guests are all foreigners. This is a place where the beer is ice-cold, the weather is hot and the weed is cheap. Showing up here for a day or two but then staying for a month or more is a recurring story.

The problem is that technical ownership of the land is somewhat chaotic to say the least and I personally have only scratched the surface about who owns what and wants who to do what.

The short story is that the entire area is threatened by Chinese investors looking to build luxury casino hotels in the area. Based on the large number of empty or abandoned casinos all around Cambodia it doesn’t seem to be a very successful plan but nonetheless many casinos are in the making.

On Koh Ta Kiev (an island off the coast of Sihanoukville and Otres beach) I asked around what the deal was with that and got various vague answers. From what I could gather, half the island is owned by Chinese and half owned by the French. The various accommodations out there are just built with a somewhat bribe-induced dubious permission which is why they never know when it’s revoked and the whole area is cleared. Furthermore, there is a large amount of free-roaming cows just grazing at will. These are apparently owned by the military and have been shifted around from island to island over the years – “sometimes the government comes over and moves some of the cows to another island – we don’t know why”. Lastly, some local fishers put some shacks on the island into an area called “the fishing village”.

To sum up: there are a lot of different forces operation out here and to me, the foreign tourist, it’s all very hairy.

Last year, the Chinese came and cleared a huge path straight through the jungle to make way for a road but then, just as quickly as they arrived, they left again. The theory is that the Cambodian government is putting pressure on the Chinese to develop these areas and apparently some sort of timeline required that there would be a road by the end of 2015 or whatever. To comply with this requirement, they just cleared some random jungle and left again. The French side remains untouched as the Cambodian government apparently are more lenient with them.

In conclusion: I don’t think anyone really knows what’s going to happen even just within the next year.

I really would love to know more about all this and not just here but also at other locations in Cambodia. Are the Chinese building Casinos against their will because of some strange arrangements with the Cambodian government? How long will we be able to drink pina coladas at these remote islands? Please comment if you know anything.

Koh Ta Kiev – Where the boat leaves from

Update: I’ve written a post about the future of this area. Have a read: The Future of Sihanoukville, Cambodia and the Surrounding Areas

As I’m writing this I’m listening to “Zac Brown Band – Where the Boat Leaves From” and it couldn’t be more spot on. It’s uncanny how this song just is this place.

Koh Ta Kiev is a small remote island off the southern coast of Cambodia near Sihanoukville. It’s a small island and currently has about 50 people on it, including staff. My and I lodged ourselves in a jungalow at the last point on the southern bay.

View from the Bungalow

On the other side of the island, about 45 minutes of walking through dense jungle path, you have the treehouse which literally has treehouse like bungalows. Except for a fishing “village” which has no permanent shops, those are the only two places open on the island now and with no permanent residents it’s not a busy place. The boat arrives once a day IF there are any people coming in and IF the weather permits. Not a given these days as we are in low-season / rainy season. We were 3 coming in with the boat and that’s a lot apparently. The next day, 4 left and none came, leaving us with a grand total of 4 guests including us.

Untold unstirred beaches ripe for exploration

There is no WiFI *gasp* and the only place to charge your electronics is in the bar in the evening. They turn on the generator to get some lights but only in the bar. If you want lights in your bungalow they’ll provide you with some candles. But then again what do you need your phone for? It’s truly one of those islands you just go to, to get away from it all – “you can take your worries and dump ’em in the blue ocean”. During the day they have solar panels which are used to power the gently playing stereo.

Ossi aka Monkey Boy aka Green Boy sitting in the bar

Ice is shipped in to Koh Ta Kiev every day with the passenger boat – about 30kg’s for the kitchen and 20kg’s for the bar. Tough luck if there’s no boat. However, if the boat stays away for too long, there’s coconuts a plenty if you know how to pick them from the trees.

So the bar, the jungle, the ocean, the bathroom and the bungalows is really all there is but that’s all you need. If that’s not enough, the bar sells spliffs and condoms for $2 each and any item can be made “happy” for $3. You can snorkel anywhere on the island and when the sun goes down you can see bioluminescent plankton anywhere in the water – a very unique experience. Sun -rise/-set isn’t too shabby either.

“Time you enjoy wasting is not wasted” – Unknown

If you’ve read this far, I thank you and if you ever have the time to visit Koh Ta Kiev – please do!

It’s time for me to get back to my beer but I’ll leave you with “Where the Boat Leaves From” as Zac Brown Band explains it better than I do. Take a listen!

ZAC BROWN BAND

“Where The Boat Leaves From”

There’s a place, where the boat leaves from
It takes away all of your big problems
You got worries you can drop them in the blue ocean
But you gotta get away to where the boat leaves from

Take one part sand, and one part sea, one part shade of banana tree
The drinks they’re cold and the raggae is hot
And I know this is the place for me

So get away to where the boat leaves from
It takes away all of your big problems
You got worries you can drop them in the blue ocean
But you gotta get away to where the boat leaves from

See the problem is that you’re right there
And there’s a perfectly good island somewhere
Where a ride that floats and don’t grab your coats
You won’t need it where we are going

Get away to where the boat leaves from
It takes away all of your big problems
You got worries you can drop them in the blue ocean
But you gotta get away to where the boat leaves from

Pick me up
Pick me up
Pick me up

Put me down
Down on the sand where its cool
Put me down
When I fall off my stool
Put me down
I’ll just sleep there til morning comes around

With sunshine tanned ladies and piña colodas
And Bob Marley songs that are playing
There’s a song in my ear that I want you to hear
Soft tropical lips that are singin

Get away to where the boat leaves from
It takes away all of your big problems
You got worries you can drop them in the blue ocean
But you gotta get away to where the boat leaves from

So get away to where the boat leaves from
it takes away all of your big problems
You got worries you can drop them in the blue ocean
but you got to get away to where the boat leaves from

so get away to where the boat leaves from
it takes away all of your big problems
you got worries you could drop them in the blue ocean

[x4]
oooooo pick me up
oooooo pick me up

i gotta go

[x4]
oooooo pick me up
oooooo pick me up