• Tara B. Vasi

Day 2: Bus ride to Cambodia, Market, Cricket Dinner, Circus

Updated: Oct 17, 2019

I woke up to the musical alarm of someone else phone. What started as one alarm quickly turned into four different sets of song, as obviously all four girls in my room, including myself, had set multiple alarms around 5:00am to make sure we were up on time to meet Sochea our tour guide.

We had to check out and be on the road by 5:30am. I wanted to get an early start because I was so late to meet the group the night before. I got to reception and introduced myself a little more intimately with people from my group. I met one young lady from Germany named Lara who was a nurse, a young lady from South Hampton UK named Briney. There is a gent Florian from Switzerland and James from Denmark. There are a few couples traveling together too. So many friendly new faces, my new friends!

We load up on the bus and each grab a take away breakfast. I opened my bag and found something like a club sandwich, meaning there are three different layers of bread, though just lettuce in between them. So, they gave me me a dry white break and lettuce club sandwich haha. Luckily I had an RX bar left in my stash. We made a few stops, but pretty much drove 8 hours straight to the Cambodian border. We took photos for our visa and when we approached the border patrol there were many cameras directed towards us. Each person had to hand over their passport and take digital fingerprints. We went out in the sunshine and asked Soochea if we were in Cambodia and he said we were in between countries in a place people call “No mans land”. There were many mopeds with multiple people hanging off and tuktuks, or motorbikes with carriages for passengers.

There were even food tuktuks, so little food carts attached to motorbikes. We walked into Cambodia and met back up with our bus driver who drove over the border with all of our belongings. From the bus window we drove by streets littered with trash and fresh foot stands.

The air was thick from the humidity and the street dust.

We arrived to Aspara Dream, our hotel in Siem Reap.

I didn’t go in the pool.

I roomed with Briny. She is 28 and has a sister named Tara! She is a sweet young woman and she’s traveling the entire 30 just like me. I Know we will team sticky rice stick together.

We both had loads of dirty washing so gave a bag to the front desk for them to take care of for us. All of my sleeved shirts were dirty and because we were going to the temples the following morning, and they require you to cover your shoulders and knees to show respect, I had to run out and buy a shirt. We walked down the street and began to realize that each street looked extremely similar. Coffee shop, small shop, hotel, shack. Coffee shop small shop hotel shack. It was an interesting blend of poverty and money, local living and tourism.

We stumbled upon a market with tons of options for sleeved apparel. We aren’t the first tourists to come unprepared. We only had a little bit of time before we had to be back to go to dinner so we moved quickly.

The clothes hanged on old navy hangars.

I found a dress that was magenta in color and made of fairly light material. The lady told me it was fifteen dollars, but I asked her if she’d sell it for $8. She said $12 and I countered with $10. We settled on ten and it felt like a victory. I went through the same process for a giant bag of dried mango, again victorious with a final price of $4. Haggling is fun game. Briny got a few pairs of pants and a shirt to wear to temples too.

We headed back but because all the streets looked the same to us, we got incredibly lost, possibly even walking right past our hotel once or twice. A friendly white woman must have seen our confusion and asked if we needed help. She pointed us in the right direction and the hotel was intact right around the corner.

We had dinner plans at The New Hope of Cambodia. Its a sponsorship program that works with G Adventures to raise money for childhood education.

Everyone ordered fancy daiquiris and beers and I ordered a delicious Schweppes gingerale and chugged half of it so that it burned my throat just the right amount.

Instead of place mats, they had tiles with quotes or messages on them.

The started the table off with multiple plates of crickets and beet and sweet potato chips that I recognized from the states. Crickets are incredible high in protein. Not everyone in the group tried one, but I knew I had to. It didn’t taste that bad. The hardest part was getting over the fact that you had an insect crunching between your teeth.

The rest of the meal was delicious and insect free. We had beef with salt pepper and lime that had a fried egg on top. A dish they call Coco which is similar to a coconut based curry and had loads green beans and sweet potatoes inside. We also had a traditional Cambodian dish called Amok.

For desert we had fresh fruit: dragon fruit, papaya, pineapple, and banana. I didn’t take any photos because I asked the bartender to charge my phone behind the bar. He was way nicer about it then when I was a bartender many years ago and people asked me to charge their phone behind the bar. Shrug.

We went from dinner right to the “Phare” or the Cambodian Circus. We rode in two tuktuks and zig and zagged around traffic and stray dogs. When we were there, they gave us each a fan to cool ourselves and showed us to our seats in this very very small theater with stadium seating. The show was about a young boy with a disfigured face who was bullied by his townspeople and then the story of how he was finally accepted. He was in love with a woman who disappeared and the story unites them at the end, The actors were funny! There was flame throwing, acrobatics, tight rope, juggling, and a ton of acroyoga, which I loved. Highly recommend this show!

I don’t know that kid but I thought he was funny.

We went back to the hotel around 10pm. It was a long and stimulating day. Briny and I stayed up talking for a while but eventually fell asleep to the hum of our air con looking forward to seeing the famous Angkor Wat the following morning for sunrise.


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