I know I'm quite limited with my experience in a sense that I haven't been to every nook and cranny of Cambodia. But like they say, we all have different experiences and stories when traveling. And this is mine.
Sometimes, we get so drawn into conventional beauty that we miss out on other interesting things in front of us. Whenever I go out of the house or visit a new place, I try to observe as much as I can. When you're keen in looking at the things around you, the ordinary becomes extraordinary...
...just like this short strip of road that connects Vietnam to Cambodia. We were coming from Ho Chi Minh in Vietnam and in just about two hours, we've reached Moc Bai which is the last town in Ho Chi Minh before entering the Cambodian border.
Right after exiting the Vietnam immigration office (which was like a huge warehouse!), we then navigated this dusty part of the road and I wondered what they call it when it's already out of Vietnam and not yet in Cambodia.
I then remembered a scene from my favorite movie A Walk to Remember where Jamie and Landon were in two places at the same time. That's how it felt to me and yes, the idea of it is beautiful. I wanted to step out and take a photo of myself but I couldn't because we had to be in the bus.
We managed to take this photo outside Vietnam's
The next photo reminds me of this song... you guessed it right!
Every color and every hue
Is represented by me and you
Take a slide in the slope
Take a look in the kaleidoscope
Spinnin' round, make it twirl
In this kaleidoscope world
It's overwhelming in a nice way to travel with people who have different cultures from what we have. It makes me think of stories.. or questions like -- Where are they heading? Are we all going to be in Angkor Wat tomorrow? Are they traveling for business or leisure?
According to the Mekong River Commission, Mekong River is one of the world's great river systems flowing 4,909 km through six countries! Six countries guys - isn't that amazing? Okay, I am amazed. It flows through Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, China, Myanmar, and Vietnam.
Mekong River is also the world's 12th longest river and is the 7th longest in Asia. That's apparently where the name of our bus was derived from.
Hello Phnom Penh - the capital of Cambodia!
The AC of our bus from Ho Chi Minh got busted just right after we exited Vietnam immigration so we had to open the windows but not all windows could be opened so a lot of passengers were complaining (politely nonetheless) because it was soooo hot.
The 6-hour trip became an 8-hour trip because we had to transfer to another bus 1 hour & 30 minutes before we reached Phnom Penh. We arrived at around 5 PM.
Mandatory photo below because it was my first tuktuk ride in Cambodia! That's also the face of haggardness (if that's even a word) and hunger. As I've mentioned in my previous posts, I tried to avoid eating too much when we're mobile for a long time because, tummy problems. Lol ;)
So there, I was darn hungry and tired when we reached the city.
Aside from being exhausted and hungry, it was raining sooo hard when we arrived and the bus station was just outside the market with no shelter nearby. So we were - exhausted, hungry, and soaked. My hunger was actually bordering to dizziness-and-I'll-cry-like-Mojaru anytime soon kind-of hunger.
Trivia: I cry when I'm very, very hungry! Also, I hope you still remember Mojaru (please Google it, hehe!).
Anyway, as if being exhausted, hungry, and soaked weren't enough. We found out that our hotel was outside the city! My friend even considered booking another hotel just within the city because he was the one who booked our hotels and didn't check the location beforehand. But there was no time for blame game and we didn't want to spend more money even though he said that he would pay for it.
Fortunately, we got a tuktuk driver who agreed to take us to the hotel for $10. Phnom Penh's rush hour was just like Cebu's rush hour - terrible, terrible traffic. We had a hard time looking for the hotel because the driver wasn't familiar of the location at first. It turned out though that the address we had on the reservation was incorrect/misleading.
After 1 hour & 30 minutes, we finally found Boeung Chhouk Guest House. At least as a consolation, the room was huge with the fastest WiFi we've ever had in our trip. We dropped our bags and WALKED for 15-20 minutes to find food because the hotel didn't have, huhu!
At that point, I didn't cry yet but my intestines were churning like crazy. Finally, we found this nice restaurant. No food photos. Because, who has time? I haven't eaten for about 12 hours and my head was aching. I had to pop Biogesic for help!
We had to sleep early for another 6-hour trip to Siem Reap the next day. We told our driver to pick us up at 5:30 AM because we wanted to avoid traffic. We were supposed to leave Phnom Penh at 8:30 AM but since we arrived early at the bus station, they asked us to take the 7:30 AM bus instead and we agreed.
We arrived in Siem Reap at around 1 PM and checked in at Angkor Wat Guest House. We immediately looked for food so we walked around and found a decent restaurant that was most likely for tourists because we were the only ones there and it was quite pricey. But we were hungry and didn't want to walk farther anymore.
This was pretty much what I ate. Normal. Not life-changing but enough to fill me for the entire afternoon.
We had to walk around again to look for the place where we could buy tickets to Bangkok. After buying tickets, we dropped by a souvenir shop (no photos were allowed) and I bought some ref magnets and a pack of Cambodian drip coffee (not for me of course).
We walked and walked.. and walked some more and before we knew it, we were so far away and didn't know the way back. Haha!
I felt like we were far enough when we reached this corner of the road. In front of this (photo below) was a store where we rested for a while to drink water. My two friends talked about Game of Thrones while I was pretending to be interested in their topic.
Another trivia: I belong to the 10% of the population who don't/doesn't watch GoT. But I know the characters. ;)
A tuktuk passed by and we asked to be taken to the park where we entered a worship place and had a picnic after.
We weren't allowed to bring slippers or any footwear inside so we had to leave them somewhere outside and then found out we had to give a donation to the old man who looked after our precious slippers.
We ate some street food. I had spicy and it was surprisingly good! And spicy was really spicceeeyyy!!!
Another amazing thing in Cambodia is that they have two currencies. They mainly use dollars but for coins or change, they use Cambodian riel. I have so many bills left. Just like in Vietnam where the money seems so big, you will also be surprised at first with 3,000 riel but in truth, it's really just 37 pesos.
There was a man who offered us this banig that we used for our mini-picnic but it turned out that he wanted to ask for donation for a school that he said he was helping out. He had a flyer with photos of the students and a paper with names of people who gave donations. We were kinda skeptical so we didn't give any.