• Tara B. Vasi

Day 6: Bus ride to the coast of Cambodia, trash, Hurricane Ferry, Bucket showers

Today is Saturday and we spent seven hours of the day in a bus driving to the coast of Cambodia. I didn’t mind much because I wrote on my laptop the majority of the time and tangoed with motion sickness.

I woke up that morning and started my floor kettle and had a cup of instant coffee while I packed up the rest of the stuff. I have been impulsively taking with me all extra coffee packets and sugar packets, “just in case” and realize by the end of this trip my bag could be full of just sugar and instant coffee.

I skipped breakfast at the hotel but snagged four small bananas to eat on the road. We stopped only once for a break mid way through the trip and I was thinking how different it was from the road trips with the yoga retreat group where we stopped almost every hour and a half. The rest stop had food, but nothing sounded appetizing, so I just got a cappuccino.

We arrive at the port and walk by heaps and heaps of trash on our way to where the ferry is docked. My jaw immediately dropped and I could not hide my disbelief.

There where so many plastic bottles, wrappers, and containers on the shoreline you couldn’t see the foam from the turn of the tide. There were children burning garbage and what looked like, playing in the mounds of plastics. The smell was a combination of dead fish, burning plastic, and general soggy deterioration.

I knew the earth was in trouble when it came to plastics in the ocean, but I had never seen something like that before.

We loaded up on the ferry. The boat didn’t move very fast, so it would take two hours to get to the island of Koh Rong. The crew took our luggage and wrapped it in a tarp to protect it in case it rained. They had a cushioned area where there was a mother and her baby laying down to rest. I joined them as if we were family.

There was a group of Cambodian business men and I got to talking with one of them. He asked where I was from and how long I was traveling for. He told me his daughter lived in San Francisco. I asked him his age (which I would never ask of someone) only so the I could do easy math to figure out if he was a killer. He said he was 47 years old, which means he was born in 1972. The genocide was from 1975-79, so that would have made him 3-6 years old. I’d like to think that means its safe to say he was not involved in the genocide, though I can’t be certain.

A member of the crew was drinking a can beer and when he finished, he threw the can in the ocean. I didn’t say anything, (because what are you really supposed to say?) but I thought, “If my mom was here, I bet she would.”

The rain started to come down lightly and the crew lowered the plastic “walls” to shield us from the rain. Some areas didn’t have panels and everyone kept shifting around to stay dry. The rain was coming in side ways and from the upper deck and eventually flooded the lower deck.

The businessmen sitting near the luggage moved some of the luggage that was on the floor and not under the tarp to a dryer spot in the cabin. I am pretty certain it wasn’t there luggage, because the man I was speaking with said they were going to the island for a business meeting,

There was a full blown hurricane going on in the ocean that day. The waves were big and the boat rocked so much it toppled over an older woman spewing her belongings everywhere and the men helped her pick them up and get situated. Everyone was looking out for each other.

The group played a card game called “Shithead” which I assume is the same as “Asshole”,

The baby started crying. She wasn’t wearing many clothes, looked chilled, and the mother didn’t have a blanket with her from what I could see. One of the business men took off his jacket and put it around the baby and she calmed down and fell back asleep on the cushion wrapped in his jacket.

I was thinking about how this situation would have gone over in the States.

First, it may never have happened in the first place because there would probably be a better quality boat involved.

Would the American people have looked out for each other? Or would they have ignored each other? Sat on their phones and said that’s not my luggage, so its not my problem nor my job to care or move it. Or maybe they would have threatened the captain, saying these confitions are unacceptable, and if my belongings get wet, I am writing a bad yelp review and that will show you #worstferryrideever

Or, complain the rain is ruining my makeup, or hair, or photo, or etc etc… or declare, I am never taking this ferry again!

And can you believe this baby? How annoying!

Other women would whisper to each other, judging her ability to mother, because how could she not bring a blanket for her baby?

Would anyone have given up there shirt or jacket for a baby?

Its hard to tell if having the better boat is really worth it, unless it’s making us better people.

Maybe it wouldn’t go down like that. What do I know?

The rain doesn’t let up, but we can see we are close to the island.

That’s Kenny. He’s the only other American. He is 22 and from the Midwest.

We dock and walk to the island. Theres a sign welcoming us.

We huddle around a large table in the back of the only restaurant on the island and are given our room assignments.

They explain the times and menu for each meal. They let us know that there is a festival going on in the village square including a parade to raise goods, toothbrushes, towels, food, etc to donate to the monastery on the island that is the poorest in the country.

We are escorted to our bungalows.

Sochea told us there was no hot water and only bucket showers. I asked him, “So by bucket shower, do you mean there is a bucket that you fill with water and then dump over your head?” He said “Yes”.

When we got to our bungalow, I was pleased to find a shower in the bathroom instead of just a bucket, though, there is no curtain or hot water. There are two sets of bunk beds, each bed comes with a fan, a light, a top sheet, and a towel. I dropped my stuff on a lower bunk and went right to the restaurant to eat some food. The majority of the group was hungry too, though they had eaten a ton of random things on the bus and the only reason I know that is because I could smell it.

I ordered a dish called Lok Lak.

LoK Lak is grilled chicken with rice and a fried egg on top. Usually I don’t like to eat chicken and an egg in the same dish because it makes me sad, but I needed some serious protein after a day of eating only four mini bananas and a handful of dried mangos.

The kids started talking “beer tower”.

And I knew that was my cue.

I decided to go back to my netted cozy lower bunk and read my book. I love being me.

I decided to go for a shower even though I knew it would be cold. The shower started off fine, cold, but fine, but then completely the water completely shut off. I yelled to Bryony who was reading in the bunks. I looked up at the shower head and the cold water explosively shot out, darting towards my face. I yelped and laughed. And Bryony roared from the bunks. That’s the only yelp I’ll be leaving. I Iove being me.


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