Day 65 – Smiles in Cambodia

Siem Reap, Cambodia

Today was my last day in Laos.

I think, mentally I shut this place out and my mental state boar out a self-fulfilling prophecy.  When I was in Chiang Mai last week my gut was telling me not to go.  I really wanted to spend more time in Chiang Mai and going to Laos just wasn’t getting me excited.

As I slowly inched my way to the Thai/Laos border through Chiang Rai and Chiang Khong, that gut feeling was still there.

In fact, on the very morning I went over the border I gave thought to just reversing course and grabbing a bus back to Chiang Mai instead.

Well, as it turns out – I guess I shoulda listened to my gut.

My intended 3 week stay in Laos turned into just 3 days as I flew out to Siem Reap, Cambodia this afternoon.

Did I waste alot of money by changing my mind abruptly?  Yup, probably a couple hundred dollars.

The thing is though it was a necessary expense.  I just wasn’t happy and needed to get outta there.

So, as much as being unsure about going into Laos became a self-fulfilling prophecy, so too has my entrance into Cambodia.

But this time, In a good way.

Before I even set foot on Cambodian soil I was already happy and excited to be going.  So, of course when I stepped off my flight this afternoon I was all smiles.

So, enough with the doom and gloom, let’s get this back on track…

I left for the airport around noon and was there about a half hour later.  The airport in Luang Prabang is very small.  In fact when my flight left it was the only airplane there at the time.

I was flying from Laos to Cambodia and I did it on Vietnam Airlines.  I don’t know, that just seems weird.  Even though the flight was just over an hour long they still gave us a little snack of banana nut bread and a custard.

Impressive.

Two things happened today that normally don’t happen when I’m flying.

One, the flight left almost a full hour early and, two, I was getting a free pickup from the airport on the other end.

Of course with the early takeoff and subsequent early landing I had to wait for almost an hour for my pickup as obviously they had no idea that I was arriving early.

No big deal though, I was just happy to be here in Cambodia.

Like I said, I was sent a tuk tuk to give me a free ride to the hostel and this never happens.  At least with hostels, it doesn’t.

In fact, the hostel has a long list of services it provides and you can tell they’re really trying to stand out in a good way.

I arrived at the hostel around 5pm.  I opted for the 6 bed air conditioned dorm for $9 instead of the 18 bed dorm with just fans.  Seemed like a no-brainer to me.

Yeah, I’ll say it – I’m addicted to air conditioning.  You really can’t blame me though as the temperature when I arrived was 34C.  In fact, in Phenom Penh where I’ll be in a few days it’s 41C!

After a much needed shower I headed into the hot, muggy night around 6:00 for something to eat.

The guy at the front desk sent me to a street called Pub Street.  I walked over to it and, yeah, that wasn’t for me.  It was just a bunch of westernized bars and restaurants.

Nah, I wanted some Khmer cuisine – some good ol’ Cambodian fare.

I ended up at Triangle BBQ Bar and decided to just go all out.  After all, it had been a rough few days and I deserved it.

I had a couple of Mai Tais ($3 each), an assortment of Khmer appetizers ($6), a couple of beef skewers ($1.25 each) with a baked potato (90 cents) and then an assortment of Khmer sweets for dessert ($3.50).

When the appetizer plate came out it reminded me of my meals I had in Europe last year.  There were three dishes in bowls atop a long plate – Grilled Bar Fish with Carrot, Cucumber and Capsicum dressing, Green Mango Salad with Chicken and Peanut, and Cresson Salad with braised, minced Pork Fritter and Peanut Sauce.

The dessert also had various items on it too but, alas, I have no idea what I was eating as it wasn’t listed on the menu and I figured asking the server would be an exercise in futility.

Anyway, it was damn good.  All of it.

The entire meal came out to $20 which, considering that’s more than 2 nights accommodation, is pretty pricey but, like I said, I deserved it.

Oh, you may have noticed no wierd conversions of foreign pricing.  Well, that’s because the US dollar is pretty much the universal currency here in Cambodia.  The bank machines actually dole them out and everything is labeled in them.

It’s kinda nice not having to convert everything in my head as I go out to buy things.

After dinner I was so hot that I just went straight up to my room where the bliss of air conditioning was waiting for me.

At 9pm I popped down to the cinema room to watch this evenings’ movie choice of Empire State.  The movie sucks but the room was amazing.  Fully air conditioned with big screen and couches.

And that was the day.

I’m so happy to be here in Cambodia and can’t wait for the next week or so as I’ll be here in Siem Reap, Phnom Penh and then Sihanoukville.

Bring it on!

Asia Trip 2014, Trip Journal

    1. Anonymous March 25, 2014
    2. Mark Klemola March 26, 2014

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