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The Journey to Phnom Penh, Cambodia

The Journey

Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Leaving the airport in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

Leaving Virginia, my first flight (of four) was cancelled due to chilly temperatures.  A two-hour cab ride to Washington D.C. reconciled that problem.  After a seven hour flight to Frankfurt, I had a seven hour layover where I forced myself to stay awake with coffee, hoping that on the next leg I would sleep.

The next leg was 10 hours to Bangkok.  I asked at the check-in counter for “as much seating room as possible” and got three seats across which served as a great couch for a long nap.  Proving once again, that asking is the key.

Thai Airways is the best airline I’ve flown on yet: courteous, clean, good food, good entertainment system.

The Cost Difference between Vacationing and Traveling

On my last flight from Bangkok to Phnom Penh (50 minutes) an Indian man who lives in Norway told me all about his upcoming 19-day vacation at a four star hotel in the city.  He told me he spent $4500 for his tickets and accommodations (for one!).  I am hoping that same amount of money will get me through the next six months.  That’s the difference between vacationing and traveling.  I am spending $12/night for my own room, bathroom, and balcony here is the city.  I intend to get that price lower as I learn where to go.

Arriving in Phnom Penh

A popular beer in Cambodia.

A popular beer in Cambodia.

When I arrived a tuk tuk driver met me at the airport.  He spoke English, as does everyone I have encountered thus far.  The drive to my guesthouse was exciting to say the least – traffic going in every direction, pedestrians, dogs, cars, buses and thousands of scooters loaded with families, all going their own way.

Fortunately, I was primed for this kind of traffic by other spots I’ve visited and surprised myself by feeling completely calm and enjoying the ride.  What will be, will be!  The weather is warm – 80 degrees – but without humidity.  It’s really a lovely day.

Americanized, Cambodianized Pad Thai

Americanized, Cambodianized, Vegetarianized Pad Thai

At my guesthouse, several people sat near me while I drank an Anchor beer and waited for my room.  One local man talked about how high he got last night smoking weed and asked if I smoked.  Guessing the direction of this conversation (a sale), I quickly said “no”. It’s not the weed that I object to, but I’m not going to do do illegal things within 10 minutes of arrival in a foreign country.  Hell no.  Observe first.  Watch and learn.  Then, do your illegal things if you so choose!

Kenny Rogers Christmas music blares over the guesthouse speakers.  I never tire of observing this cultural discord which I have now observed all over the world – American music in the weirdest, most far-flung places.  Although I did tire of this Kenny Rogers Christmas music fairly rapidly.  Like immediately.

I now sit on a balcony and inhale fumes from the kitchen’s chimney, which smell, oddly chemical.  Music from nearby clubs mixes into a cacophony of discordant beats and teenage girl singers.  Tiny lizards scurry everywhere.  Cats fight.  I look up and can see only four stars.  I’m in the thick of it.  Of what, I’m not sure yet.

Tomorrow, I’m meeting up with Tyler, a former co-worker I haven’t seen for six years.  I remember him leaving all those years ago, not really clear about where he was going.  And now, here I am!

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