Drinking, Boom, Plan Updates, Dear Mr. Ambassador
Feb 05, 2004
I'm now writing about more serious topics. Someone seems to have made the mistaken assumption that I'm actually becoming a more serious person. I can't allow that so, here is a drinking story...
My visa is running out. it's time for me to leave Cambodia. Mr. Lee owns the bar that the land mine museum volunteers frequent (though perhaps 'get drunk at nightly would be a better description). He decides to throw me a going away party.
All my drinks, all night, are free. I feel almost guilty about this generosity, so I challenge him to match drinks with me. I won't feel bad about free drinks so long as the bar owner is drinking with me. He refuses, but after some negotiation he agrees to have one drink for every 5 that I have. I quickly drink my way through the first 5 beers. Then Mr. Lee pours Tequila Sunrises for us and I start drinking the hard liquor.
After the tequila, I meet a group of Americans on a short holiday. I impress them with stories of hanging out in mine fields and they start buying me shots. Ten or twelve drinks into the evening, everyone else has left the bar. I help Lee move the outside tables into the bar and lock up. Then he decides that we should go to the disco that is popular with the Khmers. Sometime before this, I realized I had forgotten to tell my guesthouse to wake me in the morning. I made the drunken decision that the only way that I would make my bus is if I drank all night. The disco sounded like a great idea to me.
More beers are drank at the disco and we even dance a bit. The disco then starts closing up and Mr. Lee heads for home. I don't know what to do. I'm drunk, I still have 4 hours before it's time to catch the bus, and I don't know if anything is still open. I bike around town and see that Zanzybar, the bar/brothel popular with the tourists, is still open. I park my bike and walk inside. I'm met by a massively pot-bellied, tattooed, very drunk French man who speaks no English. There are some boisterous, back slapping, grunting introductions and he starts buying me beers. After dozens of drinks it's hard to keep track of time, but sometime later the Frenchman falls into a taxi with a girl. I'm the only customer left and this bar starts closing. I still have a couple of hours to kill and once again don't know where to find more drinks.
Fortunately, as I start biking off a girl hops onto the back of my bike. Now I'm really drunk. I can just barely manage to keep the bicycle upright as she gives me directions to the only place still serving beer. Two short blocks later, we arrive at a small roadside stand selling beers out of a cooler. Two beers later, I say goodnight to the girl and finally bike back to the guesthouse.
I arrive with just enough time to take a shower and pack. I hop into the shower. Perhaps the water sobered me up a bit, but suddenly I had the clear realization that the bus ride would be unbelievably miserable. It's hard enough when sober, but when still drunk from the night before a 14 hour bus ride that starts with 6 hours of bumpy dirt road would be a disaster. I pass out and take the bus two days later.
The border market at Malai - Boom
The mine story had a lot of anticipation, but no explosion to add real excitement. I didn't write about it before, But we actually had that sort of "Wow! Bam!" excitement even before we got to the minefield.
There is a market on the Thai border selling all sorts of goods. We stop there to do some shopping. We're driving out of the market, on our way to the minefield when suddenly a kid of about 7 years old runs in front of our truck. Boom! And he disappears underneath. There is a moment of absolute horror until his mother runs out and grabs him. He's crying, but seems unhurt.
Then the shouting begins. It starts at the site of the accident and moves over to the police booth. Twenty minutes later, the yelling, arguing and haggling is mostly concluded. $10 is agreed upon. Our driver pays the mother and we continue on our way, off to the minefield.
Travel Plan Updates
First of all, I made the decision to go de-mining with HALO Trust. So, I'm on my way back to Cambodia - once again going exactly the wrong direction if you look at the plan. While I'm there, I'll also visit the two other de-mining NGOs and see if I can get information about de-mining or perhaps more invitations to go to minefields.
I visited a travel agent and was pleasantly surprised to find that flights from Bangkok to Africa are cheap. A one way flight from Bangkok to Tanzania is only $400. I was not excited about going back to India, and now I don't have to. The only is I go to Cambodia for a month and Myanmar for a month and then fly to Tanzania, I'll arrive in the middle of the wet season. Malaria will be at its peak and roads will be washed away. But it should be interesting and there shouldn't be many tourists. I may spend a couple of more months in Asia to avoid the African wet season or I could be in Africa as soon as April 1.
The travel agent also had an intriguing ad for a trip to North Korea. "See the most closed society in the world - Ask for details." Of course I asked. The trip costs $2000. It's all inclusive, but the trip only lasts between 5 and 9 days at the discretion of the North Korean government. You will go only where the North Korean government tells you. Every where that you go, including down the hall in the hotel, you will be followed by your officially appointed guide. It sounds great! I'm going! Well, that is, I'm going as soon as I can find someone willing to fund the trip.
I also got news about my planned boat trip down the Mekong. Two years ago, no tourists had ever made that the trip down the Mekong. Now, I'm hearing from other travelers that tourists are starting to take their own boats and explore Northern Laos. I also read an article in the Bangkok Post about an Australian who was embarking on a kayak trip starting in the Tibetan Plateau and following the Mekong all the way to Vietnam. That's an even more epic trip than the one I had planned. So, when I reach Laos and buy my own boat, the trip will not be ground-breaking trip, but it should still be exciting.
Dear Mr. Ambassador
The following was a comment on the "Lynn and the Maoists" journal entry. It was unusual enough that I thought I should share it with everyone.
Adnan Ahmad Afridi - 01/15/2004
Dear Mr. Ambassedor.. I am Glad to write you .. Dear respected sir i have a little problem that i want you to help me and i think i dont have anyother way to contact you ... Sir i have applied to uk for studies visa to complete my Masters but been refuse to get there.. i dont know why they refused me ... but me didnt lose my heart i went to usa embassy but they told me that usa visa for pakistani is that difficult that u are going to haven .. but its not our fault .. we havnt made any attact on usa .. then why we are payin back for that.. everyone love to get to usa to work and to make money .. our country is underdevelopment and we kant find any good job over here .. and not good universities are here.. Sir i think you are getting my words.. Anyhow SIr in short without takin ur time kan i know ..
Kan you help me in getting visa to USA .. Sir do reply i wil be waitin ok
BAbye GOD wish you a streanth to help me out..
Poor guy. I suppose I need to mail him back and tell him that I'm not actually the US Ambassador.
that's awesome adam.
good luck with HALO!
kristie - Feb 18, 2004
Well, Adam, I finally made it to your site. It sounds like your trip has taken some interesting turns. Congratulations on the de-mining and your writing ambition as well.
Your stories are making me nostalgic for my own trips years ago. I must travel again soon. I can picture what you are up to so clearly! Have fun!
brian - Jul 31, 2007
How long did you work with HALO and how were you able to apply?
an atheist jew as well