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Helen's Escape

Welcome to Helen's Travel Page. Here is where I will be keeping a record of my adventures for all of you to read. Please feel free to leave a comment for me. If I have time in between getting to know my gorgeous man a little better ;), discovering new and exciting places and making new friends I will reply to them!

I am wildly excited at the prospect of jetting off to Cambodia on my own and meeting the man I have been chatting to for over 18 months and grown to love so much. Stay tuned for all the latest news, be it good or bad and most importantly how the first meeting goes!!!

Diary Entries

Tuesday, 08 January 2008

Location: Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Day 10 - an early start as we had to be at the airport by 8am and it wasn't looking good. Sly had promised to pick us up but there was a mix-up and he was running late. We opted for a tuk-tuk in a bit of a panic but not quite half-way to the airport Sly met up with us in a taxi and we continued on from there.

Donna and IK came to say good-bye and it was with a mix of relief to be heading home to my nice warm showers and decent food coupled with an innate sadness at leaving my love behind, that I waved everyone farewell and headed off for the long flight back to aussie.

We had shed our tears the night before but that didn't stop me from wiping away some more as I headed up the escalator to the departure lounge.

The flight to Bangkok was uneventful, although it was nice to actually see the airport this time in the daylight. Another long wait before the flight to Sydney and this time I knew my way around the airport quite well. Checked in not long after I arrived so I was able to spend most of the time in the Duty-free shopping precinct and pick up some last-minute gifts for the kids.

Qantas had cancelled the flight that I was booked on so the passengers for that flight were taken on by British Airways and I must say I had a great flight home. After a couple of scotch and cokes with dinner (yum), I was feeling mighty relaxed.

When we arrived in Sydney, cleared customs and immigration quite quickly but still missed my connecting flight to Brisbane. That was just the start of the very long trip home. The flight taxied to the runway, but then sat there for about 15mins. The captain announced that there was a problem with the flaps and that we would be returning to the terminal. AAAARRRGGGGHHHH

Took another 30 minutes of waiting for the mechanic to eventually decide that the plane wasn't going anywhere, and we were all told that we would have to deboard the aeroplane. AAAAARRRRRGGGGHH

Got new flights allocated but regardless of the fact that our flight left at 12, our luggage wouldn't arrive in Brisbane until 3pm.
I was desperately in need of coffee and a cigarette by this stage, so off I went for my fixes. Just settling in nicely for the long wait when an announcement is made that our plane has been fixed and we can all continue if we would like to return to the lounge. AAAAAARRRRGGGGGHHHHHHHH

Arrive back in Brisbane, tired and hungry and with no way to get home, jump on the Airtrain which is a first for me and quite an easy way to get to where I'm going. Call Mum from the railway station and finally make it home at 2.15. What a trip, what an adventure, what an amazing few days!!!

Monday, 07 January 2008

Location: Phnom Pehn, Cambodia

Day 9 - my last full day in Cambodia and it didn’t start well. The tension in the air from last night’s argument (not that I would call it that cos there was no discussion at all) was overpowering. It was clear that I would get no reasonable explanation and that was just not good enough for me to forgive and forget. As nerves frayed and tempers flared, Arthur just clammed up. He said “I’m going out – not staying here to take this any more”. I said ‘The hell you are, not without me – I need to go shopping today cos it’s my last day and I need to buy some things for the kids!!” So we left the apartment barely speaking to each other, with black moods hanging over both of us.

About 10 minutes into the tuk tuk ride to the bank, I felt the tension start to dissipate. I was still mad at him but wanted my last day to be memorable for the right reasons not the wrong ones. Spent most of the morning and part of the afternoon shopping like a woman possessed, looking for just the right thing for everyone and not being particularly successful. Arthur just followed me and carried my bags and haggled as required – the perfect shopping partner – maybe he was too scared to do anything else! We stopped briefly for lunch at a hamburger joint (the closest equivalent to McDonalds) and then shopped some more. The whole time, he had been making and receiving calls from Sly as I had mentioned that I wanted to visit “The Killing Fields” and nobody seemed to know where it was.

IK came with Donna to pick us up so we could do some sightseeing of the city before I went home. So we started off at the S21 prison – the converted high school buildings – that had become one of history’s most notorious bases for the Khmer Rouge’s genocide in the mid 1970’s. That was depressing so we headed off for Phnom Wat which was a much more pleasant park-like area close to the railway station. Strolled around the perimeter of the temple, took lots of photos, saw some monkeys and then drove off towards the King’s Palace.

The area around the Place was amazingly crowded as it was a Public Holiday and there were people everywhere enjoying the day in the grounds outside the palace and along the riverside walk. We parked the car and walked around for a little while before heading home.

Had a quiet meal together then spent the rest of the evening talking to each other on the balcony. It was the closest I'd felt to him the entire time I'd been there. He told me story after story and as I listened to his words, his wonderfully accented voice and the calm straightforward honesty with which he spoke, I knew that my love was not misplaced and this was a man I could happily share the rest of my life with.

Sunday, 06 January 2008

Location: Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Day 8 – No church today – as Arthur’s friend Sly and his wife Donna are returning from Africa this morning. So it’s off to the airport we go with IK, Max and Greg. The airport is nice but I’ve seen it twice already!! But of course the drive to and from is always exciting as we take on the Cambodian traffic. Sly and Donna arrive and it’s hugs all around then off to their place for a welcome back drink. An hour later and we head home where I will be dropped off yet again while Arthur and Sly go to do whatever it is that they do. Make myself some lunch and await my husband’s return. He’s not gone long but then decides that the laptop that I brought over with me needs to be looked at to see if it can be adapted for the internet cable, otherwise it is useless to him and I should just take it back with me. This idea doesn’t please me at all as it was a pain to lug over – I wasn’t about to lug it back home. So off he goes again, leaving me to rest and fume about the amount of time I’m spending just sitting on my own – not doing anything, not getting to see anything except the view from the balcony!!

I end up falling asleep and Arthur wakes me and says that I need to hurry and get ready to go out for dinner and drinks as the others are on their way to pick us up. Oh great!! So we have dinner at the same restaurant as the first night I was here, and then drive around the corner to the Alien Bar, which is a favourite hang-out for a lot of the Africans in Phnom Penh. It’s quiet tonight though so we don’t stay long before strolling down to the Heart of Darkness – the most-happening club in the city. This is the place where most tourists seem to gravitate to, so the crowd is much more diverse than anywhere else I’ve been so far.

This is much more fun – lots of loud music and dancing which I might add, the boys just get into together on their own little dance floor. How cool!! Donna and I sip away at our very cheap, very potent cocktails and just enjoy watching the boys have fun – our own private floor show! Arthur gets me up for a dance but I either didn’t make the grade or he was scared I’d have a heart attack, cos he sat me down after just one song. Too bad too – I was just warming up.

We left the club soon after midnight but again, it was the girls being taken home while the boys went to do what the boys had to do. It all happened so quickly, I didn’t have time to protest or voice my disappointment so by the time I got home I was resigned to the fact that this was the way of life and I should just adapt!!

Arthur was home within 45 minutes and I was extremely pleased to see him back so soon. Without me saying a word at the club, he knew that I was not happy and had told Sly that he needed to get home to his wife.

However, the night was still young – plenty of time for the shit to hit the fan which it did about 30 minutes later when I clicked on the Yahoo Messenger site so I could log in and check my emails when all of a sudden up came my baby’s messenger list. Well, suffice to say, I said nothing and glanced at the long line of women’s names and/or IDs. My blood started to boil as I saw my ID sitting above another name grouped under “aussie women 1”. I very calmly said to my dear husband ‘Honey I just clicked on Yahoo and your login came up. Did you have it set to ‘remember my password’?? And would you like to explain to me who all these women are and in particular who the other ID belongs to under “aussie women 1? Is she Plan B???” Well the silence was deafening. He really had nothing to say other than to question me about how I was able to access his account. After I very calmly explained that I had not done it on purpose, rather that he had left himself open to anyone to access his account, he said they were past chat mates which he had meant to delete - and that was the only explanation I got. Unfortunately that wasn’t enough to pacify me so I left the room to cry and smoke lots of cigarettes on the balcony. When I went back to the room he was asleep and I couldn’t wake him to argue the point. Of course, by that time he had changed the setting on his Yahoo account so it was now not coming up automatically and I cursed myself for saying anything in the first place. I missed my chance to snoop and actually find out the truth. It was a very long night.

Saturday, 05 January 2008

Location: Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Day 7 – It's Saturday morning and even on holidays there are chores to be done – more washing and some tidying up. Athur leaves me to my own devices so I can take the morning to rejuvenate, wash all the clothes that need washing and generally catch up on mundane tasks like shaving my legs and washing my hair - which is no mean feat given that the water is cold and runs out of the tap like a drizzle. Only problem is that I finish everything that I want to do and he has still not returned. I can't even go out and wander around on my own as the gate to the apartments is kept locked and I don't have a key to get out. So I don't take to my imprisonment well and sulk around the apartment for what seems like hours - smoking and reading, reading and smoking.

Watching TV when he finally shows his face later in the afternoon and I’m bored to tears – really had wanted to go out and do some sight-seeing as we haven't really had the opportunity to see much of the city in daylight hours. Makes the same peace-offering as on the second day by bringing me some pizza but too late - I'm so annoyed at him that i barely acknowledge his presence.

Nevermind, I'm well rested for whatever tomorrow brings!

Friday, 04 January 2008

Location: Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Day 6 - back in Phnom Penh at my baby's new apartment. It's clean and comfortable even though the stairs to get to it are a bit dodgy! We have a big room with A/C, a TV and a stereo - what more could I want? Oh and a big bed, of course!!!

The kitchen, bathroom and toilet are arranged in such a way that you have to go out onto the verandah to access them - but that's not a problem - at least we have those much-needed amenities!

Life here in Phnom Penh is busy, noisy and fast-paced. The motorbikes are everywhere. Driving anywhere is like taking your life into your hands - traffic control is a non-event. I can't believe the way people drive/ride - so crazy. 3 and 4 people to a bike - even very young babies!

The sights are all so amazing but it's the smells in the streets, that makes you aware of how very different this city is. It is a mix of cooking food and rotting garbage - one minute you're breathing it in feeling hungry, the next you wonder if you will throw up. The way these people live is something I doubt anyone from a developed country could ever hope to understand or comprehend. The sheer poverty and desperation to make a living is both depressing and inspiring.

We head off to Lucky Supermarket (in a different part of town this time) so we can stock up for the next few days of our first taste of co-habitation. It's like moving in together on a trial basis - fun but scary. This shopping trip is a lot more relaxed - I stroll up and down the aisles just checking out what's available to buy - recognise some things but mostly just have to rely on the pictures on the packaging.
Arthur is picking out items that he will eat while I am taking ages deciding on what I am game to eat!!
Head on home as it's now dark - to start the onerous task of cooking in a very basic kitchen with very basic ingredients. But we do have beer, coffee and cigarettes so I'm fine. Settle in for a night in front of the TV with my favourite man and life is good!!

Friday, 04 January 2008

Location: Siem Reap, Cambodia

It's Friday already and we are still in Siem Reap just for a little longer - head back to Phnom Penh soon. Have spent the past 2 days here - yesterday visited all the temples at Angkor Wat, etc and although there was lots to see, I was feeling like throwing up for most of it. Have been in bed since!

I knew I shouldn't have tempted fate and had the scrambled eggs for breakfast but what-the-hell, I'm on holidays. Eggs seemed a safe enough option. How wrong I was!! Anyway, the day started out OK. The hotel reception staff grabbed a tuk-tuk for us, saying he was an expert at showing us the temples so off we headed eager to see what all the rest of the tourists were here for.

Siem Reap is much more relaxed than Phnom Penh. The whole place is quieter and more laid-back, even for such a poplular destination. The countryside is pretty but doesn't come close to Australia's bush. We passed extremes such as brand new brick houses and not-so-luxurious lean-tos that looked like the next big wind would take them away.

Not far from the temple, we were told we had to get out to go thru and pay our admission fees. This was fun - they take ur photo and give you a nice little day-pass with ur picture on it - nice souvenir! The Angkor Wat temple is massive. It could take a whole day just to walk around that structure itself. I wasn't feeling great at this stage but not as bad I was gonna get.

By the time we had walked around for about an hour and a half with a very knowledgeable guide who just latched on to us, I was feeling mighty sick. The heat and the humidity didn't help either. Poor Arthur didn't know what to do - so he took my photo just to remind me when I got home about how sick I had been!! Good on him!!

Went back to the tuk tuk driver who motored us on to a little lunch spot but the smell of food just made me feel worse and I had to find a toilet quick smart. Of course, it was a couple of kilometers down the road and by the time I got there, didn't need to throw up anymore. So went back to collect Arthur who had finished eating by this time and went in search of more fascination temples to explore - well, not explore really - more like drive past and look at!

There was one though, that the driver said we MUST see and dropped us off at one side telling us that he would pick us up at the other side. It was a 20 minute walk through the bush - dusty and hot - but the temple when we arrived, was worth the pain and anguish. The photos don't do it justice and I wish that I had felt better so we could have spent more time actually walking through them. Oh well, any excuse to have to revisit one day.

The tuk tuk driver took us back to the hotel passing a number of other temples and even one more stop (photo stop) and I showered and slept for the rest of the afternoon. The vomitting started about 2 hours after I got home and then continued for most of the night. My dear man went out and left me to my misery - there was nothing he could do for me anyway - and even though I felt much better after every bout of heaving, the tummy pains just continued to get worse. He did come back and check on me but I insisted that he go out with his friends and let me die in peace. He said the massage that he had was wonderful and dinner was nice - great, sorry I missed it!! And yet another excuse to return!!

Back to my normal self the next day but not fit enough to tackle the markets where I had wanted to buy some gifts and souvenirs so you guessed it - yet another reason to come back!!! Off to the airport for the return flight back to Phnom Pehn.

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