A bright light shone in my face and I thought, “Well, they’ve found me now.” My ditch dreams must have been pretty intense. I started to gather my things in order to follow the holder of the light to the cell where I would be spending the night when I looked up and saw more clearly; it was the moon! I laughed with relief. “Not today!”, I yelled and walked the remaining 5km’s to my campsite.
I had chosen the ditch because I didn’t think I could make it from downtown Port Alberni to the site. I had already walked close to 20k that day and dehydration and heat exhaustion were fully set in. The ditch seemed like a good place for a rest.
This was the Vancouver Island adventure that went wrong. I had already slept in 12 different beds in 13 nights; tent, camper, bed, fireside, floor, patio, couch, futon, ditch and places I can’t remember. And it wasn’t over yet. I still had to get off the Island and back to Calgary for a meeting.
Things went wrong. I had seen a friends patio set alight, left my macbook in the rain, dropped my phone in water and then sat on it, tore up my shoes and shorts double skeleton longboarding along the path in tofino (the girls idea), broke a heart, lost my chargers, spent all of my money and dropped my old wedding ring into the rocks accidentally (I had meant to send it out to sea).
Maybe the grossest thing was that I decided to cook fish on the fire one night but forgot and left it in my backpack overnight.Friends were adamant that I throw the foul mess away because it stank so bad but I had just bought it! So I walked around stinking like fire and fish. Sorry Tofino, it was me.
I’m back in Calgary and alive after having an IV, ECG and blood tests at a clinic where the doctor asked “Why didn’t you come in sooner?”
The ferry ride from Koh Phi Phi to Phuket, Thailand was a puke fest. Before we set off, one of the workers walked down the aisle offering vomit bags but not very many took them. What would we need them for? It was calm in the harbour.
After meeting another boat after departure to pick up 5 girls who got on the wrong one we set off. 10 minutes in I saw why he was handing out bags. It was rough! After hearing the “Oooh’s” and “Aaah’s” of the passengers the worker came down again; this time people took bags. We crashed and tilted about as though we were being driven too fast on the road from Port Alberni BC to Tofino BC with our eyes closed and no seatbelts on. I thought I was going to be sick.
I cranked my music so I couldn’t hear the heaving and moaning but some folks overrode and sounded like they were trying to sing background vocals to Dave Peters of Throwdown. After a while I fell asleep. Maybe the trick is to just take it like a baby in a cradle?
When we arrived in Phuket after 2 hours and filed off we could see dozens of bags of puke tied up neatly under the seats. I’d estimate there were around 300 people on board and that at least 100 left some of their mornings eggs and noodles behind.
I was hungry when I left the boat.
Otres Beach on the west coast of Cambodia is a pearl. It has a peaceful flow and a friendly vibe with English speaking bartenders who know the difference between a Coke, the soda, and the other whiter kind.
I asked to be taken to this beach when I first got off the bus from Kampong Speu but either the motorcycle driver misunderstood me or he just really wanted to take me to his buddy’s guesthouse on Serendipity beach. I wasn’t sure because I was going blindly with just a name. I booked three nights and the next day realized the error. Turns out Otres is a 45 minute beach walk away and a world away from the dirtier and more frantic pace of the beaches closer to Sihanoukville, Cambodia. A tuk tuk driver will take you to Otres for $3-4 because they have to drive the long way around or you can walk south on the beach until you reach a hill with a guesthouse perched at the top. Once you crest the hill you will see the shacks in the distance.
You’ll feel like you just walked into an Australian/British/German/American commune, complete with pot brownies and cookies on display in the beachfront restaurants. There are still a few sleazy looking pasty-white dudes walking around with underage Cambodian girls but markedly less. There are also fewer Cambodian women and girls with baskets looking to rub your feet or tie you a bracelet. It’s refreshing coming from just up the beach where everyone is trying to rub you.
You have the option of sleeping on a bunch of other people for $5 for 3 nights or spend some serious cash and pay $20 for a beachfront bamboo hut complete with glass doors. Although you could probably barter your way down to $16 or $17 (USD) if you want to save enough to buy your daily big bottles of water. I paid $7 a night for a shack that smells of pee. Dehydrated pee (which is the best kind). Lots of options so shop around.
The time is coming when Otres, like other gems before it in Southeast Asia will be filled with tourists, which brings locals, Tuk Tuks and bracelets. This place is good respite. It’s hot and a great place to feel free and lay where you want with a book covering your face. All for around $10 a day.