Sunday at the Beach

November 9, 2008

Today was one of those absolute perfect days. It started off normally enough, working out at Otres beach this morning. Made some good progress at the beach bar…got the bar foundation built and the small hut torn down. At lunch time, we headed back and then Alan, Wendy (one of his friends/guests who is here on business), and I went out to Ying Yang for the afternoon.

There was a nice breeze, a hammock, good music, On the Road and beer involved on my part. In between sleeping and swimming I managed to eat a damn good chicken sandwich and put away a healthy number of beers and Johnny Walkers. Rich was very busy today and in the late afternoon all of the girls made a spread for BBQ. A couple guys did the cooking and the smell of weed and BBQ filled the air. Perfect way to recharge batteries, if you ask me.

I’m now back at the hotel, sitting at the bar with a cold Anchor beer in front of me. Dinner is just around the corner and tonight looks like it will be a really nice night. Another nice day in paradise…


Construction at the Beach

November 4, 2008

The past two days I have been working out at Otres beach getting that project going. Alan has been busy in town with his hotel and so he gave me four boys to get things done out there.

Cambodian construction is…very different than what you would be accustomed to seeing in the States. Everybody is in shorts and flip flops (or shoe less). Problems are done very simply (at most major construction sites, the first day of work is spent building all the tools they will use). They work very hard and there is much manual labor. All this time, they keep very good attitudes and its not uncommon to hear singing or laughter rising along with the block walls.

The whole time I am out there, I am less than 40 feet from the ocean at any given time. There is always a cool breeze blowing in your face. Out in the ocean there are a few fishing boats going about their morning fishing with most of them heading back toward town in the afternoon. There is a unique simplicity about it all that is just impossible to be beat.

When the boys take lunch (served by one of the beach bars), I take the opportunity to forage up my own food. Today it was a short walk along the beach to Yin Yang, a beach bar run by an Australian named Rich). As I was waiting for my hamburger, I laid back in a hammock with my cold beer and watched the waves break against the shore. I thought about the countless times I had to sneak out of the office just to take a 15 minute lunch break. I thought about waiting in a crowded drive thru for a greasy hamburger. I thought about when I felt guilty to take a full hour lunch break. I realized I was truly insane to have done that for as long as I did…

As the clouds drifted past, the waves broke on the white sandy shore and the breeze gently poured over my skin…I realized my only problem. My beer was empty…I turned my head and nodded at Rich while holding up my empty beer can. A few moments later my empty can was gone, a new beer appeared and my life was in perfect harmony again.

Lunch hour? Make that more like lunch hourish. I still need my nap.

Beer, Frisbee and the Beach

November 2, 2008

Today was a very clear day, all day. No rain…light breeze, low 70s…in short…amazing. This past week has been very stressful and busy with many things going wrong with construction and the builders. Today I went out to Otres and worked for a few hours before Alan brought his staff out and we spent the afternoon relaxing and enjoying ourselves. Some of you will appreciate that I actually played some frisbee…and some of you won’t appreciate that I was drinking most of the day. Oh well…I had a very great day. I’m now back at Alan’s hotel sipping on a cold Dr. Pepper (yes, I found a grocery store here who stocks it! I bought them out yesterday just to make sure I would have enough) and a Snickers bar. We are in the process of getting new builders, hopefully they start tomorrow or Tuesday. Alan has a number of reservations after next week and we are planning a day or two getaway to Kep before all this starts. We also have to go to Phnom Penh, so we’ll see what happens.

Happy Halloween!

November 1, 2008

The past two days have been days of many firsts…I apologize for not being in touch with alot of you, but yesterday was an extremely hectic day and today I spent most of the day working out at the Otres Beach Bar.

For starters, yesterday…wow. Everything that could go wrong…did. The builders weren’t happy and threatened not to come back after lunch, Alan’s staff were restless because the bar has been closed to work on the new room above the bar and a few of them don’t like doing “construction” type stuff. None of the shop owners were being reasonable (I am going to write a whole blog on Cambodian businesses…they are very interesting). Progress on the second story at the hotel has slowed in the past few days (part of it is due to the labor dispute). Good news though, we finally got a truck to get materials out to Otres and did that yesterday. Alan and I ate at Angelos ( a local Greek BBQ style place) and took a nice motorcycle ride around. That seems to help with the stress. 🙂

Today was alot better. Though, it did start off raining. Everyone here is very confused about the weather because of how unusual it is. I spent the afternoon working out at Otres getting a foundation ready for the bar floor and cutting down a tree. Hopefully we can start laying the concrete floor on Saturday and I think Alan wants one more tree out. After dinner, I went for a nice motorcycle ride out into the country a bit. The stars were amazing…so crisp and clear. There was a lightning storm off in the distance, but not a single cloud in the sky…Every day I am realizing how beautiful and special this country is.


October 29, 2008

Check out the pictures here!  I’ll be updating captions, but most are from Otres Beach and there are some of the new beach bar that is under construction (albeit, slowly).  Others are from driving around town on errands.


Driving in Cambodia

October 29, 2008

From the moment I arrived in Phnom Penh, I knew driving here was going to be challenging and at the very least, interesting.  As Alan and I pulled out of the airport, he said that while everything looks very hectic, it’s actually quite organized.  In order to make a left, Alan just inched his way out until everyone stopped or moved around him.   When driving in a car, the sheer number of motos (mopeds or motorcycles) that move around you is a bit daunting, even as a passenger. 

It is amazing what one can fit on the back of a moto.  Entire families (four or five people with a baby) on one moto…or a cage balanced off the back with eight or nine piglets in it.  Trucks and vans with nine or ten Khmers and the back end stretched out another six feet with anything from wicker furniture to motos hung off the back doors.

One thing that really caught me off guard is people simply don’t wait.  If you are moving too slow or trying to make a turn…people just go all around you.  There really is no “lanes” that are followed.  Basically, just any open path.   It is not uncommon to drive on the opposite side of the road or off the road.   The other main difference is when you make a left hand turn; you have to look to your left to make sure nobody is passing you on that side!

I’ve been taking Alan’s motorbike out a lot more since it is nicer.  I haven’t gotten into any accidents yet.  So that’s a good thing.  I’m still not completely comfortable, but with practice I’ll soon be a master Cambodian Driver!  

Rain, Beach Shack and Snake Wine

October 27, 2008

Well, it has been raining alot here the past few days.  Since I’ve been here really…today seems like a really nice day though.  I’m sitting at Alan’s bar while watching the motos go by and the construction crew arrive.  I’m looking forward to a nice day here for a change.  

Construction at Alan’s hotel is going well but we ran into a problem for the Otres Beach shack…we have alot of wood and rubble from the hotel site that Alan wants to move out to Otres to use in building the new additions.  However, its very difficult to find a truck.  The cheapest we have found was $12.50 for the 7km trip.  Hopefully we find a reasonable priced alternative soon as it is slowing down our progress there.

This town is so amaizng.  There is this sleepy feeling about it, but at the same time, you know there is this whole underlying buzz that is there waiting.  I can’t stress enough how much opportuntity is here if you look for it…there is alot to be doneif you have the right mindset.  I am really looking forward to further exploring the town…getting in some pool tournaments at a few of the local ex-pat bars and things such as that.

Oh, I have to tell about this sashimi place that just reopened.  This was one of Alan’s most favorite places to eat here.  A few of you wil love this…I got twenty-one pieces (seven of three different types of fish) of sashimi for $4.  Yeah…$4.  It was amazing…our total bill including sake, 4 tempura prawns and white wine was under $20.  How can you beat that?  I love this country!

I tried snake wine last night.  Alan and I were sitting at his bar last night drinking beer and going over some ideas for the beach bar when he asked one of his staff to bring over a bottle on the top shelf.  Inside thebottle is a cobra with a very large black scorpion and ginseng.  They are left to sit in rice wine for months.  its a very oily texture…reminds me of fish oil.  I took a shot of it and at first thought the warmth was very close to a whiskey warmth.  However, within ten seconds this euporhic…almost high, like feeling swept through me.  It was amazing.  Snake wine is common all over Asia and is supposedly quite good for you.

So far things are going great.  Since its actually sunny today, I will get a chance to take some pictures when I go into town with Alan.  Stay posted…