So it’s a million and two degrees outside when the bus driver drops us off and it’s time to bid adieu to my 3-week-long-Vietnamese home. Now we’re meant to walk to Cambodia. It’s indeed as surreal as it seems, made only more so by the fact that Ben and I were approximately the only people crossing that day. Alone, hot as hell and loaded down with our bags, we hoofed off for Cambo.
The Vietnamese border control, lovely as they are, don’t really have a thing for customer service. Not like we do at home, anyway. So we rolled up to the front desk, passports ready and waited to be acknowledged by the immigration officers. Five minutes later they look up. Another ten minutes later to bustle our departure cards around and clear Ben’s name from the most wanted list [[or whatever it is that took them that long to let him through]]..it struck me…this trip is teaching me patience.
Almost 3 months into the trek and I can queue up with the best of them. My flight can be delayed, my driver can get lost and my room doesn’t even have to be ready when I arrive at a hotel…cause the thing is, it doesn’t dang matter. Apparently having no schedule serves up a healthy dose of patience. It was a proud little moment to realize how much my OCD-overly-hurried-butt has learned to be present, accept every delay as part of the adventure and not wish away time. And that made me smile.
My smile didn’t last long though.
Apparently, 3 months of travel also causes some complacence too. I didn’t realize how cush I’d gotten. Especially having traveled with a dude for 10 days, I must have laxed up, and I forgot to knock wood.
I might have made it through the border with a lot of fresh patience, but I did NOT make it through the border with my phone [[which so handily stores my Drivers License, credit card AND debit card]]. Yep. I basically don’t exist anymore.
This was the start of a very weird 48 hours in Cambodia.
We took a day bus to Phnom Penh, stopped for some dinner and decided to wing it and head straight for Siem Reap. A 7-hour night bus ride later, we made it to temple town, dropped our bags, jumped in a tuk tuk and headed off to see the granddaddy of them all—Angkor Wat. Angkor Wat at sunrise [[aka, magic]] made me forget about my lost phone and identity for a while.
Until weird things started happening again…
First, a 5 year old Cambodian peddler boy hit me…in a temple. We’re talkin full on swing to the gut. I’m still not sure why, but probably because I wouldn’t buy a $2 magnet?
Then Ben almost got attacked by a monkey…for which you should NOT feel sorry. Ben totally prompted said almost attack. Those little mackays are fearless, aggressive and probably attack 130 tourists per day. Luckily we didn’t have to add ‘Ben’s thumb’ to our missing items list for the day.
THEN, apparently there was some big car accident that knocked power out to the whole city of Siem Reap. Our driver said it could take up to a week to bring the grid back [[hello, patient locals]].
Fortunately, the gorgeous temples of Siem Reap don’t care about electricity—they shine on regardless. Driving through the World Heritage Site [[I should have kept tally of how many of these I’ve checked off over the last 3 months]], it struck me as an eerie blend of spiritual and commercial; ancient and exact; authentic and touristy.
Monks in striking orange robes donned most of the temples. Trees older than the good ole USA buried roots deep into the earth only to grow up and cover entire temple entryways. At every turn, a NatGeo-worthy photo opp [[too bad no phone = no Insta]]. It is a breathtaking place, no doubt, and an icon that I was thankful to have spent some time exploring.
We took our sweet-time climbing through, over and around a half dozen temples for the morning, exercising our patience with each group of peddlers that somehow don’t quite fit the soothing, graceful environment…
But no.more.complacence, thanks. Call us hoity-toity if you like, but a $7 room with zero electricity, air conditioning, wifi or free breakfast just wasn’t gonna satisfy on this particular day. So naturally, we walked the streets listening for the hum of a generator, ate the $7 and invested in the most lovely $30 hotel. We even got dressed up and went out for sushi at the 5-star resort across the street [[what would that cost at home? $150-$200? Not in Cambodia. Three amazing rolls, a chicken teriyaki, drinks, fresh fruit and more importantly a lit / cooled / stunning place to collect ourselves, set us back a whopping $34.]]
And by ‘us’ I mean Ben. Cause I still don’t have a debit card.
Yes, 48 hours in Cambodia was totally weird. Totally beautiful. And a memorable exercise in patience and complacence.