By the time we reached Hue, we had eaten many local dishes, including picking apart our own fish and wrapping our own spring rolls by the Mekong Delta.
However, we hadn’t really eaten at a local restaurant just yet. We had eaten at more tourist-oriented places, which were all delicious, but hadn’t ventured into the typical food venues. So on our first day in Hue, we did just that.
There isn’t much of a story behind this, except… look at the amazing view!
My dorm room was on the 8th floor of a hostel, and my bed was directly facing this window, so every morning when I woke up, I spent a few minutes admiring the city.
Definitely looks a little crowded, eh?
The market in Phnom Penh was my absolute favourite place, because it was truly authentic. This is where the locals came to buy their fruits and veggies, pick out their fresh (ie: live) meats, get their hair washed, and pull up a stool to one of the many food stalls.
While hiding from the sun, we grabbed an iced coffee and watched as one family set up this fruit shake stall. When we initially sat down, there was not a single trace of this stall, but slowly, goods arrived via motorcycle, and the stall was ready for customers. Every day this family has to set up and take down their business.
We spent the afternoon watching cars, motorbikes and tuk-tuks drive along this street that always feels so alive. And then we got our hair cut on the side of the road!
For this part of my trip, I was lucky to have my mom with me! We met up in Bangkok for a quick tour of Wat Pho and Wat Arun, and headed back to the airport for Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC).
We had an intense itinerary in Vietnam. We toured with a company called Vietnam Alive, which really took care of us throughout our 11 day whirlwind tour. From HCMC to Hue to Hoi An to Hanoi, our schedule was packed, but we still managed to squeeze in some naps by the pool and some market-wandering.
When I left Montreal, my big plan was to eat healthier and continue an exercise regime. I figured that there would be fewer unhealthy snacks available, or snacks would be out of my budget, and that running through a new city would give me a unique tour, and keep me in shape too.
“Killing fields?” “Killing fields?” “Drive to killing fields?”
I stepped out of my sleeper bus from Siem Reap into Phnom Penh, and, as usual, when arriving anywhere, tuk tuk drivers are waiting for you, essentially harassing you, to get a lift to your hotel. Except this time, Phnom Penh was different. Yes, I was still being harassed about where I was headed, but thrown into the mix, actually, dominating the discourse, was whether I wanted a lift to the killing fields. Big friendly smiles, calling out to me at 7am about the “main attraction” of Phnom Penh.
My time in Cambodia was amazing. It turns out, that The Temples of Angkor really are impressive, no matter how many photos you have seen, and it turns out that Phnom Penh is my perfect Asian city. In fact, I planned to stay for 3 days, stayed for one week instead, and I don’t want to leave! Phnom Penh is the first city in my trip that I’m actually sad to leave.
At this point in my travels, my first thought was not “did he seriously just say that?”, my first thought was “oh here we go again”.
I had been chatting with Chan throughout dinner, answering all the normal questions I usually receive from locals. In his near-perfect English, he was asking me so many questions; he was clearly hoping I would either be his Barang (foreign) girlfriend or friend, or if anything, my tuk tuk driver for the rest of my time in Phnom Penh.
I have been in Cambodia for almost a week now. How did that happen? It feels like I just got here.
Going to Cambodia was a spur-of-the-moment decision.
1. Invitation from friends I met in Bangkok
2. Checked prices on internet
3. Announced to my Koh Tao friends I might go to Cambodia
4. One Koh Tao friend suggested we travel together to Siem Reap
5. Bus tickets purchased
Traveling should be about disconnecting with the world you know and enjoying where you are in the present. Except that, it is now so easy to stay in touch with everyone, and keep everyone up to date, that you end up keeping one foot back home.
It is okay as long as there is a balance. Do you reach for your phone every time there is a “free WiFi sign?”, did you buy a SIM card to keep in touch with new friends or to make sure you always were in touch with old friends, even at the top of Wat Arun, or at the top of The Great Wall?