Into Cambodia


It’s been harder than I thought it would be to keep a scheduled account of what we’ve done on this trip. Every day deserves a book.

We just got back from Koh Tonsay, an island on the Gulf Of Thailand which Westerners know as Rabbit Island. There are no rabbits on this island, just geckos, Western tourists and the locals. We stayed on the beach in bungalows, drank cold Angkor beer all night and swam in the ocean in the middle of a turbulent wind storm. After a whirlwind of drunken running through the shallow water and an early morning scramble for our belongings while chugging mango smoothies, we journeyed across the Gulf to Naga house–a hippie guesthouse in Kampot that costs $3 a night–with hammocks instead of chairs in the outdoor lobby.

Cambodia is amazing and so very different from Laos. The people are more used to seeing Westerners, and therefore much more Westernized. They seem less phased by our awkward tallness and skin color, and more expectant of our food preferences. The menu at the Naga guesthouse included fried chicken BLTs, burgers, and “a heaping hot plate of fries.” No more curry for breakfast, I guess.

Our group now consists of Ellie and I, four British guys and 3 more (you guessed it) British girls. They’re all sweet, goofy, and total alcoholics.

Our guide here is absolutely wonderful. He goes by Coco and is Cambodian and extremely knowledgable about everything Cambodia. He took us to an authentic crab market that floated along the river, and always seems to know where the party is (or how to avoid it). The weather has been sort of rainy but I honestly don’t mind it. It’s a nice break from the relentless heat, and I’m starting to wonder if there is any point in showering at all.

Cambodian culture is really beautiful and ocean-oriented. It seems like everyone centers their lives around fish and the sea. It is laid back and peaceful, but in a different way than the rhythm of simplicity that circulates in village life.

I have noticed how easy it is to get lost traveling here. We stay in so many gorgeous, albeit kind of run-down guest houses where American/western kids just bum around for months on end. Nobody here ever wants to go home. We met an Austrian guy in town with huge dreadlocks who opened a Bob Marley reggae bar, where you can make any drink on the menu ‘happy.’ He said he came to visit five years ago and never left.

Because life is so simple and relaxed here (I mean really, no one ever stresses out. About anything. Ever.) it makes you wonder how people with not much more than the fish from the ocean and a bamboo roof over their heads (and sometimes a hammock) can be so much happier than we are. I’m not sure if it makes me sad or just confused. It makes me want to give away all of my stuff and slow down. Considering how much we have compared to the way these people live, how are we even allowed to be stressed? It’s stupid.

We head up north to Siem Reap tomorrow. It’s pouring rain right now but we’re sitting on hammocks underneath bamboo, keeping dry. I think I’ll take a nap.


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