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“I wanted a mission, and for my sins, they gave me one” – Captain Willard, in Apocalypse Now, 1979
April 3rd 2016, Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Later that day, I am in short white shorts with blue print, white top and my green bag, trying a fish amok at Riverhouse Asian Bistro, by the river as you can guess. Yes, it’s expensive – for Cambodia – but I like expensive places. I am alone and quite awkward to see. Cocktails are good and it’s happy hour. Well in Cambodia is happy hour all day long.
Interesting discussion at a nearby table about entering some market in Asian countries – China/ Philippines/ Hong Kong, transactions.
Busy Sisowath Quay is just in front with the noisy tuk tuks and a few cars. The Mekong River is peacefully waving around the islands.
Tomorrow at 11:30 I’m off to Siem Reap. The plan is to wake up at 8 or 9, have breakfast at the hotel, sit by the rooftop pool and have cocktails and then go to the bus. Or at least that’s what I thought…
Hmm…I should book a hotel for Siem Reap, right?
Yes, they’re American. American lawyers. I bought her two bags, probably the wife. Now let’s go get two a***s. I’m truly impressed.
D. joins me for cocktails and tempura shrimp and later we take a tuk-tuk to Eclipse Sky Bar. This is a quite nice place, great cocktails (a bit more expensive than the average, around $5-$6) and view.
You might probably wonder why there are not many pictures to this post. Oh well, all the picture went away with my purse hanging from a motor biker’s hand when me and D., an Australian traveler (for three years) around the world, were walking around the Sky Bar in Phnom Penh.
April 4th, Phnom Penh, traveling to Siem Reap, Cambodia
Didn’t think much about it, went by the Mekong where I saw the sun rise. On the way to the hotel a lady tries to sell some drugs she says are from Laos. Others are exercising on the quay at 6AM. I’m still leaving to Siem Reap at 11:30 and I still have no hotel booked.
Before getting some hours of sleep I ask the hotel for a wake-up call which they never dial and I wake up at 11 AM. I could have had time to make it for the bus, but I don’t want to rush – I pack, check out and walk to the agency which arranges for a bus at 14:30 and eat breakfast looking at the river at around 1:30 PM.
The bus ticket costs $10 for a 5-6 hour drive, it’s brand new and has AC. There’s a temple around 30 min away from Phnom Penh that’s beautiful.
When do you think more about what you have seen and truly visualize it? When your photos are gone. It’s the only think I regret after being snatched by a group of four motorbikes.
Camera’s gone, phone’s gone, I’m safe. Oh well, this had to happen at some point and I’m grateful to the ones just taking the purse off my hand and riding with it. Somehow I had let the stuff go once I arrived here. Maybe is premonition or maybe I attracted it. Either way I’m here with an Angkor beer, I booked an amazing hotel in Siem Reap, where I will focus more on the feeling of the place rather than on clicking photos.
Concentrating on what I can do to feel better works out more than whining about it. I believe in the relationship we have with things. That you either deserve it or not. That they come and go.
Another gorgeous Cambodian with an old fatty American – probably.
Do souls recognize each other? Sure they do.
A negative event might draw your attention to what’s right in your life or what you’re doing wrong. I mean I’ve just lost worth of 2000 $, but I’m safe and I’m in Cambodia and I’m going to the temples in Siem Reap, so really…no big deal. And here happy hour is from 12 to 10 PM.
Not long ago I was writing: “From Bali to Beirut to Ho Chi Min to Osaka to Kyoto to Perth. Back home in Doha in the desert where … it is raining. Life is so beautiful and full of surprises. Traveling is living, but don’t think it is easy.“
Accepting that things might happen makes you get over it easily and I have said it so many times before – traveling is not easy, traveling is supposed to teach us something, traveling is growing, evolving, knowing, traveling is about being positive and controlling emotions (well, I’m struggling here a bit), traveling is educational and supposed to get us up not take us down.
I look out the window. Cambodia is rural and we are somewhere in the provinces almost at dusk after stopping for a midway break.
On the right and left of the asphalted road dusty sidewalks lead to schools, fields, houses and huts, palm trees.
What I find interesting is the houses, built on poles with ground floor only for half of the house, looking quite stylish and functional. Some they use the shelter under the house as a summer kitchen and others keep the kettle there. Probably in the wet season it gets quite flooded. Most of the houses are wooden, but there are some made if bricks and paint.
Many black palm tree trunks lie on the ground in a picture in tones of brown and caramel. Gates are just different size heights ad shape poles planted in the land and perpendicular – or relatively perpendicular – other poles or trunks or sticks. You can throw a calf through the holes of the so-called fence, but probably they use it for delimitation purposes only. Although I slept more than two hours, I don’t regret taking the bus instead of the plane because I get to see. How the villages are, how people live. Kids and youngsters are gathered by a few bikes by the road.
The night brings some cool wind although there are still 30 degrees plus. I spot a Yellow Matiz.
Why do people meet? I think I met someone I knew in a previous life, there, at the second floor of the Mekong Riverside Bar.
I think about what happened – the bag snatching – every now and then, but it does not affect me much. Even with this mishappening, I am traveling in Cambodia alone. I am quite brave and feel strong being here at the end of the world alone.
A shallow mirror like water gathers the eyes of the men and women lying on the reed huts. A cow crosses the street and the motorbike needs to stop as the cow decides to accelerate. A few meters ahead a teenager boy follows around 30 cows to their hut. Which reminds me that by the time I started to perfect the photo taking skills, I lost the pictures just as that cow that by the time got used to not eating, died.
This is a great area to explore. The road is much better than I expected and outside Phnom Penh there aren’t too many cars. The orange sun is getting closer.
This is really wow! The most beautiful half-sun, totally red, almost smashing the ground, getting bigger and bigger as we drive fast towards it. Done! It’s huge and round, red and surreal.
18:03 PM – sunset in Cambodia, in the middle of nowhere. Just me and my thoughts and great views.
In a small plastic bag I have a can – measurement unit – of fried insects and a huge insect, as big as a finger, anyway a flying bug.
We ride at over 120 km per hour on the wrong lane while the driver talks on the phone, but it’s fine. I’m in my own world, playing my own imaginary music depending of the stages I go through.
13-16 April is Khmer New Year Festival.
I was curious how it is by night in the Cambodian villages. Dark. There is no public lighting and only few houses have electricity – mainly businesses and the Cambodian People’s Party. The others burn a fire by the road. I can’t believe how laid back life is here. No hustle. No bustle. Yes, they’re poor, but I think they can get something to eat at the end of the day and for sure they are happier than the ones trying to impress in fancy cars and flashy clothes.
Latest events made me think about past years, am I running away from life? And if I am, what’s the lesson? What do I need to learn? What do I need to work on?
This trip is for sure cleansing. Giving me new wings. Educational. Personally speaking. On a different level, where money and so called valuables are nothing.
I just spotted a truck full, overloaded with bicycles. It’s quite something as they stack them so well that there’s barely any space between them. Not to mention that the bicycles are double the size of the truck. We should be close to Siem Reap.
Did you know? In Khmer, you say chah if you want to say yes as a female and baht as male.
Between the road and the houses a tailor’s shack if functioning at this time of the night (almost 8 pm). I see it’s normal to ride a truck seated on the top of the box or standing in the box – in some trucks more than 30 or even 40 people.
Two dressed up ladies ride besides the biker of a motorbike. Lights start increasing, and I see more touristy shops, restaurants and hotels. Same rural look, but a bit fancier. We are in Siem Reap and Da – a tuk tuk driver – offers to take me to the hotel and to give me a ride tomorrow around the temples. Sure, arkoun!