PhotoBeast

The Photography Blog from Beastmaster.co.uk


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Moving on ; the Folly Revived

Thursday.

Our last full day today and again I opted out of going to the school and instead sat outside in the shade. It’s been an interesting time, not a holiday in any sense that I understand, much hotter and more hardcore than I had anticipated, but I think the heat is unusual for them too at this time of year. Together Beastie and I travelled a lot but only ever in civilised Europe. He had been to “exotic” locations in the past and said he wasn’t interested in going back. Now I understand that point of view. I too have no desire to go to some artificially nice resort where the locals live in slums but you never go there and see them. I like exploring my destinations but found little here that I wished to find out more about. There are certainly beautiful things to see but the amount of awfulness that surrounds them spoils it for me. The inequality of it is beyond my power to change, so I will stay away. It would be nice to think my being there and spending money would somehow help these poor souls but in this greedy world, I know it won’t. Yes, it opened my mind but once is enough, and I shall follow Beastie’s advice and stick closer to home and civilisation.

The other thing is that I am aware I am a very “stand alone” item. I cannot be one of the herd and when I find myself in the company of overpowering companions I walk away and leave them. This does not make me a popular person! But as time passes and some get to know me better they find out I am… well apparently cute and sweet, only because I don’t bitch up others and tell tales. It seems I am an oddity among women/ people by shying away from any kind of group, not making friends easily and happy with my own company, and some find that hard to deal with. That much is true, that’s just me.

I can’t wait to get home, to snow, the hills and my cats and to all that is lovely in my life. In the bigger scheme of things I am amongst life’s very lucky few, whatever comes my way. Actually we all are. In a world with 7.5 billion people we are at the very top and that is easy to forget.

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Moving on; the Folly Revived

Monday-Wednesday

We are now installed in our much more pleasant surroundings but this morning the second half of our work began and it was a whole lot worse than I had imagined. 6.45 start to leave at 7.15, 40 minute hot polluted tuk tuk ride in rush hour, over bumpy, potholed unmade roads to the English school, cheerfully named Happiness House. The idea was to help in the class as an English speaker, then a return ride at 4. All this at 32C in not much more than an open hut.The reality was knackering and the teaching regime left no room for conversation or reading, as it was rote and chant, and very little else. Their spelling was perfect but I’m not sure they understood what they were spelling. All children in Cambodia have free access to school but they have to buy uniform and books, so many don’t go as they are needed on the farm. English is not taught until the age of 12, so the volunteer English schools are their best hope of doing something other than planting rice. We had nearly three hours with nothing to do over lunchtime so we were taken on a tour of the village and found another wedding. The chaps in lime green we’re not the band; they were the groom and his groomsmen. But after two full days of reciting the days of the week to three different classes, a thing I had not thought possible, I could stand it no more and Wednesday I stayed behind and tried to regain my addled wits. We did get out to a dancing show on Tuesday. What I called the “childcatchers tuk-tuk,” was in fact a laundry tuk-tuk, but it has a very worrying look about it.


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Moving on; the Folly Revived

Sunday.

Today was pretty much all about Angkor Wat and we had a 4am start to get there. So it was as a long day made longer by the pleasure of a boat ride to watch the sun set. Everywhere you go there is chaos, noise and dust, and the feeling was that if you fell in the river we were sailing on, it was probably best just to drown quickly. With the obvious pollution and the possibility of any sort of waterborne disease you could think of, drowning was perhaps the best choice. And yes those little kids are bobbing about in oversized washing bowls in the open water, running the gauntlet of all the other boats out there, playing something like water chicken, duck I suppose.


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Moving on; the Folly Revived.

Saturday. We had an early start to get into Cambodia today. It was a bit of a performance to be honest as we had to get out of one bus with our luggage, get our visa at immigration, get our passports checked, then get back in another bus. This all took not a lot less than an hour. Eventually we were in our way again and later that afternoon we arrived at our hotel which was quite lovely. It’s an odd thing but for a country so lacking in so much they have a fine appreciation of good alloys. These on the border were spectacular but I didn’t fancy making a show of myself to find out who made them, not on the border post.


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Moving on; the Folly Revived

Friday

The elephants were due at 10 but there was also a wedding in the village, so some of our group were already drunk before we took the elephants out. There was a great quantity of rice whiskey, some kind of Thai saki I suppose and it was flipping strong. I felt much more relaxed walking with the elephants but it was a lot cooler so they weren’t so keen on getting in the river, and neither were we. Quick lunch then back in the bus for a drive back to Surin and the joys of hot water, flushing toilets and mattresses. Four days without these delights had seemed a long long time.


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Moving on; the Folly Revived

Thursday.

Still felt lousy so I stayed in bed while the others cut bamboo for the elephants on Friday. I joined them for lunch then had a quiet afternoon before we went to a local market in the afternoon. I know that I’m a bit new at this stuff but I can’t get over how many different smells I have experienced, ranging from “not sure” to “downright awful”. I have not smelt anything tempting. It doesn’t look any better either. Not a fan of scorpions on sticks but I did buy some pineapple and grapes.


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Moving on; the Folly revived

Wednesday

I woke up feeling dreadful. There was a coughing, flu-like bug going round and it looks like it was my turn. As this morning’s activity was kayaking and messing about in the river I passed on that, and breakfast, and stayed in bed. I felt a bit better by lunch but I thought I would again pass on planting and weeding bamboo grass, and save my strength for going to the market afterwards. It was much cooler today and been raining most of the night, it seems to have dropped from 32 to 15 in 22 hours.