Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Day 66 – A deserted beach resort, electricity troubles, and crossing the road. (Cambodia)

Now in Otres Beach, on the South coast of Cambodia, we are experiencing a very small and out of the way tourist beach resort in low season. We’ve found that basically everywhere we’ve been has been in low season. Most of the time this is exactly how we want it – especially in places such as Koh Phi Phi or Siem Reap where it would be horribly packed in peak season, and a lot more expensive. Otres Beach however is on such a small scale that even in peak season it would still be very small and quiet. We’ve found a really nice place to stay though called Moonlight Rock, which was absolutely the cheapest, but also I think the nicest. And it seems that the other five people in Otres Beach right now are also staying here. Having no other people around though does make it easy to find each other. Tom and Tom just went for a swim and I said I’d meet them down there if they tell me which bit of beach they’re going to. They pointed in the general direction of the water and said “we’ll be the two people on the beach”.

We did experience a couple of powercuts while we were in Kampot, but since arriving in Otres Beach 20 or so hours ago, we have found out just how much a part of life they are for people living in this area. Well, for people that have electricity to begin with, which I’m sure wouldn’t apply to a lot of the housing we passed on the drive here. It is basically just constantly going on and off, sometimes only for a minute at a time, sometimes for a couple of hours. And when they decide they need it for something (lights at night, internet, etc) they boot up the generator. And this is why power is so expensive in Cambodia. According to Lonely Planet an Australian on minimum wage works for 18 seconds to pay for an hour of electricity, whereas the average Cambodian (and really I think this is probably still generous) will work for an hour and a half for an hour of electricity. We had wondered why A/C rooms in guesthouses are generally about double the price of a fan room, but this explains it perfectly.

Driving in countries where the general rule is “if there’s a gap, and you can pretty much fit into it, you can go there” is something that we’re working on mastering. It’s pretty easy for me actually, considering that’s how I usually drive in Melbourne, but I’m not used to everyone else on the road also driving like that. But being a pedestrian and most importantly crossing the road where this is the mentality of the traffic, is a separate thing to come to grips with. Looking right, left, right (or left, right, left) just won’t cut it. At first my idea was that you have to “just go”, which is mostly correct. What I’ve refined it to though is “pretend you’re a car”. Everyone knows that the bigger the vehicle, the more right of way you have. So if you pretend you’re the biggest vehicle on the road, they’ll all go around you. The boys were sceptical, but none of us have been run over yet so it seems to be working out fine.

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