– “If life were predictable it would cease to be life, and be without flavor” – Eleanor Roosevelt
After having wandered a month in Vietnam, between Hanoi and Phu Quoc Island, through Halong Bay, Hoi An or the Mekong Delta, it was time for me to take off to new horizons: Cambodia! But I would never have guessed the crazy adventure I was about to live.
Try to imagine (be focused!) taking a boat for 1 hour and a half, getting on a bus with 50 passengers but not enough seats, breaking down in open country, waiting 2 hours for the DIY engine, waiting 3 hours more at the Vietnam-Cambodia border, paying bribes, getting on a mini bus, be forced to see a doctor before crossing the border, getting off the mini bus, don’t see the doctor because he’s taking a nap (of course! what else it could have been?), getting on the mini bus again, getting off the bus one more time because the doctor is back, having the temperature taken by a laser pointed towards the forehead for one second… and paying 1$ for it, getting on the mini bus…again, changing the bus to take a big one, arriving in Phnom Penh safe and sound but coping with the strikes, having a Tuk Tuk payed to find another bus until Siem Reap, eating in the Tuk Tuk because we have to hurry up, criss-crossing the city for 2 hours in vain, don’t be able to take the bus, having the manager of the company drive us to Siem Reap and be dropped-off in front of the guesthouse. Still with me? Not really? Ok, so that means you’re following the main point of the post! 😉
That first crossing border was full of developments, often irritating, gruelling, tiring and difficult. 18 hours of misadventures … that was damn long (…very long). But that little trip from Vietnam to Cambodia was also full of happy, funny, and emotional adventures I wouldn’t wish for but which I was glad to live because it was completely in close harmony with my journey.
I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the incredible welcome of cambodian people, their startling compassion, their way to face problems so we don’t suffer from them and their manner to treat you like family, no matter where you come from. I’ve been marked by their sympathy, their warm smiles, their facilities to make us laugh in any ordinary occasion. They are probably one of the most friendly population in South East Asia.
And on top of it, I’ve discovered a city that I wasn’t supposed to see in the first place, in a tuk tuk I’ve neither looked for nor negociated. I’ve tasted delicious traditional dishes even though I thought that I would never eat. I’ve been dropped off in front of my guesthouse when I could have walked around the city to find it. I’ve laughed at a few jokes of a cambodian policeman while we were waiting for the doctor. I’ve met strangers who would have never become travel buddies if the bus had not broken down and even have had giggles about it. And of course, I would definitely not have told you this super-duper story if that would not have happened.
So always turn a negative situation into a positive challenge.
You never know what can happen. Life is supposed to be unexpected, unpredictable, spontaneous and surprising. That’s what makes it an adventure, and that’s why it made mine one my best memories in South East Asia.
My rainbow travel recommendation in Siem Reap: sleep in a khmer dorm at the Garden Village Guesthouse , savor some nutella/banana pancakes with condensed milk in the center (trust me this will definitely become your favorite desert in SEA), drink the cheapest beers at Angkor What bar, and dance with foreigners and cambodian children on Pub Street!