Google Maps is a Liar.

Trip Start Jan 12, 2013
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Trip End Feb 27, 2013


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Flag of Cambodia  ,
Tuesday, January 15, 2013

    So much to say and so not wanting to bore you all.  First things first, I have had inquiries as to what I've been eating.  Well, day one I ate chicken on a stick and a bag of sticky rice from a vendor in a back alley that I just happened upon after I forced myself to exit the fetal position and go search for food.  It was delicious!  And, what's more, it cost me a whole 45 baht or $1.50 USD.  Pretty cheap dinner.  The next days I basically walk down the street and see a woman cooking something, point at it, take it, eat it, and then pay her whatever she says.  (See breakfast pic attached in this entry).  Do I ever know what I am eating?  Absolutely not.  What's weirder is that I will know I am hungry, but because I have no idea what anything is (I mean, you don't recognize anything), I never get that mouth watering anticipation.  In fact, I saw these fried nuggets of goodness that I thought were chicken filled so I asked for them.  I got my baggie full smeared with hot chili sauce (yes, everything here is SPICY).  I took that awesome first bite only to discover that they had fried styrofoam.  I was so hungry that I actually ate a few of those damn hot styrofoam nuggets.  However, that's been my only disappointment for food.  It has all been very good...and cheap.  I spent around $7 on a meal and nearly freaked out.  I can't be spending big money like that!!
    Now on to the title of this entry.  As you all know, I've been attempting to get to the beach town of Sihanoukville in Cambodia.  Google Maps informs you that it will take a mere 8 hours.  Turns out it takes two days of trekking.  Sweaty, hot, scamming, sketchy buses, and loads of stupid ignorance.  Stupid ignorance I've learned is key to making a backpacking trip work.  You just can't know and once you know, you just can't care that the bus you're on was supposed to leave 45 min ago, but they have overbooked and so your luggage has been moved in the aisle, but hey that's better than the poor souls that have to ride on Cambodian roads for 6 hours in the aisle.  But it's all well and good because you get a chance to stretch your legs with outdoor breaks because the bus is overheating and the driver must fetch water from the river to douse the engine with.  Yes, yes I was standing on the side of the road in Cambodia with a bunch of Cambodians as we all watched the driver attempt to keep this decrepit bus from completely biting the bullet.  Really though, overheating shouldn't have been a problem since we couldn't ever get up to speed because the transmission was about to go too.  Getting a gear was like playing the slots.  Hell, we even had to back down a hill in a bus to get another go at it since the driver couldn't grab the gears.  Was it at least air-conditioned you ask?  Of course it was.  However, Western idea of air-con and SE Asian idea are two very different things...if it's spitting out anything cooler than convection oven temps, then it is air-con.  Did I mention Cambodian roads are phenomenal?  A little neck or back tension?  Shakes that right out of you.  Nervous disorder?  No problem, these buses are on the cutting edge of cognitive behavioral therapy in which you are exposed to your greatest fears as you careen around corners so fast that the water jugs are thrown from the open bus door and you must stop to retrieve them.   After 5-6 lovely hours of that, you make it to the exchange point where you are scammed into a taxi that crams 5 people + 50 ft of dirty 4 in pipe, 2 giant backpacks, and a generator in a Toyota Camry (See picture).  Now that was a comfortable, safe ride on a gearshifter draped in a person's lap you've known all of a day that you're now sharing copious amounts of sweat with. 
    Needless to say, after two days of perseverance, me and my Canadian friend Brian made it to Sihanoukville, Cambodia.  We got a sweet room again with toilet paper and even air conditioning!  Splitting the room, each with our own sweet bed is $8.  Kinda pricey, but this town is very touristy and I cannot wait to leave for one of the islands nearby.  My goal is to get in a hammock and lay there.  Indefinitely.  If I succeed, you may not hear from me for a while. 
    In other news, the Cambodian border was pretty painless.  Other than the 'health certificate' we had to get which entailed us sitting there and them taking our temperature.  We had to pay for that too...almost a whole dollar.  Wth?  I'm covered in mosquito bites and sand fly bites.  The mosquitoes are out for blood here (pun intended).  Don't worry, I'm paying attention to the signs for malaria and Dengue fever. 
    I guess I should speak of my impressions of the people and area and how I feel about them... that mushy gushy stuff.  Well, in my opinion, Cambodians are a harder, harsher, less open people...may be something to do with their hellish past of oppression and genocide...compared to Thais.  The Cambodian language is also harder and less pretty sounding.  Both are a very small statured people...it's as if I'm around mini-people all day.  The Cambodian countryside is breathtaking.  The jungle with water buffalo and houses on stilts is just as seen on TV.   The earth is very red making it look like the red clay dirt (chirt) in Tennessee...(you will see it in the bus station pic).  I am having fun and beginning to get my travel legs under me.  It has been great to at least just have someone that would notice if something happened to me.  There is also something comforting having someone get scammed or be unsure with you.  As a white person you know you are a target and always have to be on guard that prices are fair.  However, what Brian and I keep reminding ourselves is that when you scammed in Thailand and Cambodia, you pay $5 for a taxi instead of $3, or something like that.  Mere dollars here.  It is ridiculous.  Speaking of money, in Cambodia, $1 USD equals around 4,000 riel.  That's right, if you changed over $250 USD you be a millionaire with Cambodian riel.  It is so ridiculous...the stacks of money that you end up with.  I have approximately $25 dollars in riel right now and it won't even fit in my money slot in my wallet it's so thick.  So, being so rich, Brian and I had to 'make it rain' and 'swim in the money'. 
    My god, this has to be the end right??  A novel.  Until next time...Love and thanks for the support. 
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Comments

Linda on

I thought the bus station was a flea market. And didn't you want to get out on those rough seas in those little boats. It looks like a sure fire way to get motion sick. Glad you met some travel partners. I know you hate to give them up. It will be back to that -huh? stage again. Maybe the Vietnamese will understand and speak English better. Loved the food run down. Not sure about just pointing and then eating, but whatever works. No DEET available? Make sure you clean those bug bites or you will have infections as well as malaria. All the sweat and dirt. Public transportation seems a little scary. What happens when you break down in the back of beyond? Do they send out another bus? Your rooms looks clean and nice and have had a lovely interior decorator. Keep us posted, it is so much fun to be on this trip with you.

Laura on

I keep trying to comment, but my phone won't let me. Finally on a computer! After your Positive Attitude post, Heidi and I said, "She'll be fine. She'll meet someone and they'll explore together." We were sooo not worried about you:-) Glad to see you didn't disappoint us.

Ben's comment when I showed him your digs ... "Bet she wishes she had her bed back!"

We are horrible, horrible people:-) Miss you tons, and glad you're having an adventure! Keep us posted. I will try to write more.

In case you're wondering about the great happenings in P-town ... there are none.

Alan Duncan on

Glad your enjoying yourself Jasmine! Thanks for the posts. :)

Lee on

You are giving me flashbacks to my travels in Honduras in the 80's. Down there a Gilligan's Island hut was a nice place to live.

Matt on

Your passport is going to be pretty bad ass once it's filled. One stamp represents so many faces, foods and stories. I can't even grasp the scope of your experience despite this detailed journal. Imagine the conversation with your kids or grandkids one day when they ask about your travels as a young woman. Coolest grandma ever. So jealous.

Heather on

JAZZ!!! Reading your travel blog makes me ROFL! I Love it you crazy girl. When you get back (in one piece I hope) I am going to visit you just so I can watch you put body language to all these stories :-)

Maureen on

WOW Jazz, how exciting---the experience of a lifetime. I am anxiosly reading each entery. Love you, stay strong, keep ur gaurd up, ( and ur health). You GO GIRL!!!!

jware
jware on

You definitely should---tote you (and the fam) around Vancouver...we can all lament about how expensive it is together. lol.

jware
jware on

Thanks Reeny! I am glad you are enjoying it. I worry about it being boring. Hopefully, I'll have more cool experiences....although even just sitting here in a restaurant over the Mekong writing these replies is pretty cool in itself! lol

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