Let the Cambodian massages begin!

chandra-confused-over-country-shes-standing-in.jpgToday we got up at 6:35am for the 8am bus to Phnom Penh..  Actually it was more like 6:40am because I just reached over and shut off the alarm clock.  But we got ready, and I had mostly packed from the night before, and then we went downstairs to ‘check out.’  They are holding the things that I have bought so far, which includes basically illegal dvds and fake pocketbooks.  Oh and one of those fortune cookie Vietnamese hats with a delightful pink ribbon.  So we went downstairs and Dave had to carry the suitcase of textbooks so I suggested we get a cab to the travel agent.  A guy came from across the street to take us, and said that he would have to go around the entire park because it was a one way, so around we went and it ended up being a 30,000 D cab ride, not bad.  So Dave walks across the street to see where the bus is, and apparently we missed it or something.  I don’t’ know, they said for us to be there at 7:30 but we figured that was just retarded for an 8am trip, so I think it was more like 7:40.  So turned out that there was a shuttle or something to the bus terminal, from which we would leave on the 8am bus.  So randomly these 2 guys on motos come out of nowhere and before I know it, I’m on the back of a moto speeding down the street with my luggage in front of the driver and my backpack holding me on the bike.  We arrive at the ‘bus terminal,’ which is, by the way, SO not a bus terminal and more like ONE bus parked by the side of the road.  And the best part of all of this was that this terminal was directly across the street from our hotel.  What a riot.  So I guess that was a fun spin around the block in the taxi and a fun ride on the moto (well at least that part was true).

So this bus is crappy.  Like all of the tour buses that we have taken over the last 2 days have been really nice, you know, despite the fact that I am like the tallest woman in  the country and my legs to not fit in the seats at all.  But this thing is really old school, I think its because it’s the Cambodian bus and not the 9am Saigon one.  So we are leaving Saigon, and there’s not like a direct way out of the city so you basically have to drive through city traffic for an incredibly long time until you reach the Vietnamese version of a highway.  The ride was fairly uneventful, at least scenery wise haha, I just took a few pictures.  We had cold pizza from the night before and this amazingly and refreshingly good Oriental cracker mix.  Oh yea.  At about 10am we arrived a Moc Bai, where we would cross out of Vietnam and into Cambodia.  The man had taken our passports at the beginning of the bus ride so I figured we wouldn’t have to get off of the bus, but we did.  Yea, so Dave is totally dragging psych texts all around SE Asia.  Hm, that sucks, I feel bad.  But we exited Vietnam despite me not giving him my departure card thing and then went back on the bus only to drive about 100m to enter Cambodia.  Off the bus again with our backpacks while that drivers took off our suitcases.  So we were basically standing at the border crossing, waiting for them to xray our bags and for the tour guy to have our passports stamped.  We essentially lost what we were doing and felt like we were alone so we stepped AROUND the border to the other side of the xray.  Yes, with our backpacks, just sidestepped the border.  At the other side, they had some sort of issue with the textbook suitcase (probably because it looks like it could be up to no good).  So I had to open it up and see for the first time what Dave has been smuggling around Asia.  Wow, lots of books.  So that seemed to be acceptable so back on the bus we went.  Now, everyone wasn’t back on the bus and neither was the man with our passports, yet the bus started to pull away…..so this was mildly concerning.  I thought maybe we were just pulling to the side or something but we really started to pick up speed.  Eventually though we pulled into a restaurant and I think we were supposed to wait there or something for the man with our passports to show up, and the other people on the bus.  So there wasn’t really anything going on at the restaurant so we sat for a minute and then decided to get back on the bus because they had left it running with the AC on and WOW is Cambodia hot.  So back on the bus and now I’m writing this.  The dude came back with our passports and the missing people.  Pretty cool stamp I guess but its not in order now, very sad.  I guess that’s what happened when you have someone else stamp your passport for you.  Oh well.  So they took my evisa so I’ll have to glue in my second copy so that all is good.  It’s 11:18am and we have been driving for maybe 10min, nothing too too eventful, so I’m basically just really excited to get to Phnom Penh in a few hours and start to explore the city!  Bbye for now.

The rest of the bus ride was actually pretty cool because the scenery was quite different than that of Vietnam,  It just looks more agricultural, so there were just expansive rice paddies everywhere with palm trees and maybe 1 shack every few miles.  Our bus got on a boat at one point, which wasn’t as cool as it sounds because we were crammed in with other buses and trucks, including one stuffed full of disgusting pigs just walking all over each other.  We fell asleep for a while and I woke up to a Cambodian man asking us if he had a hotel…he wasn’t on the bus before, so I was a little confused.  We finally got off the bus and were pounced upon by tons of tuk tuk drivers trying to get our business.  I headed towards the luggage because if was all being put onto the street, and Dave handled transportation.  Sam was now our tuk tuk driver, and I liked him a lot.  First we went to an ATM because we didn’t have any riels.  So yea, when Dave went into the ATM (money is USD!), and I asked Sam why he had an Australian accent, because he was clearly Cambodian. Apparently he picked it up here – weird. I never thought AU had such a wide influence. So anyways, Sam navigated the tuk tuk to the California 2 (yea yea, the Hotel California). It’s pretty nice, right on the river and like a boutique hotel in Europe or something. So we check in, and begin the treck upstairs. Course Dave is carrying about 50lbs of psych texts up the stairs – I asked the lady which floor we were on and she said ‘one’…so I was figuring this was like Europe and that was just 1 floor up. Yea, so not the case, more like 4th floor and the stairs are all of varying heights. So anyways, now the psych texts are in the the managers office awaiting their delivery to the RUPP (Royal Uni of Phnom Penh) tomorrow. So the room is nice, you can walk to the front of the building and there are a few chairs you can sit on to overlook the river. After dropping our things, we decided to get something to eat and walk by the palace so that we could get that out of the way. The palace is pretty cool, at least I think it was the palace. Oh well, we have pics, so I’ll have to compare them to actual photos.  We headed towards independence monument because it looked like the center of town on the map.  We stopped at a few places but were really looking for something with air conditioning.  Finally, down a side street, we found a small hotel that had a wide selection of Cambodian as well as other Asian food.  There was seating without AC but we requested something inside and were brought into our own dining room.  We really eat alone a lot on this trip, maybe because we eat at odd hours, but more likely because we are awesome.  Who can tell?  Anyways, I order an iced coffee and when the woman brings it she spills the milk all over me!  And guess who’s ready with the camera?  Yea, that’s right!  Lovely shot of my blocking said camera with a napkin but you can still see the milk all over my arm!  Oh well, no use cry…….oh you get it.  So we got some incredibly good food actually, some spring rolls that were actually not all stuffed with pork and a noodle dish and a cambodian chicken dish.  All in all, very good food, although a bit on the expensive side, but not for how nice it was.  The bathrooms were also very nice, with stones in the sink, how cool! 🙂

Next we walked up the main road and stopped in an electronics store to check the prices and to get better directions to the Seeing Hands Massage place that we’d been hearing so much about (or, at least I had been).  There was quite a bit of discussion amongst the employees as to how to send us to this place which ended up being down the street and to the right.  We left there and walked to the massage place as it was getting dark.  This reminds me, there are SO many pimped out Lexus SUV’s in Cambodia, it’s just ridiculous.  I mean, it’s not just 1 or 2, it’s a lot.  And they all have ‘LEXUS’ on the side and many have lights underneath as well.  The differences between the classes must be just insane.  On to the massage place!  For $5, you got an hour, so we split that and changed into our hospital-type scrubs for our massages.  This place was a little odd because of the lighting I think.  It was insane asylum lighting and a very old building, almost like a 1950s hospital.  That combined with the blind people sort-of walking around slowly made it just the slightest bit creepy.  I took one for the team and ended up with the guy masseur.  It was ok, a little to rough, but I got him to ease up a bit.  Definitely worth the $2.50.  So after that, we stopped at a dvd place (shocking, I know).  I got all of the seasons of the Office as well as the Simpsons movie and Blades of Glory.  I could really get used to this!

After that we decided to walk back to the hotel along the river.  It looked like some type of festival was happening and I remember Sam telling me that today was a holiday when I asked why there wasn’t a lot of traffic.  So there were carts everywhere and women selling flowers and food, including insects! Ew, gross!  So we headed back to the hotel and decided to get some dinner and stop at an internet cafe to call home.  We were heading down the street and some guy offered us opium!  Well, edit that, he offered Dave opium because I don’t really get addressed by anyone in Asia.  Opium?  Are we kidding?  I mean pot, ok, heroin, fine, but what are we going to do?  Sit in a plush living room and smoke some opium?  I don’t think so.  So I think we went to the internet place first and I talked to a few people online and called my parents and Gig.  She told me that Mimi was taken away in an ambulance but that everything was ok.  That was upsetting, there is nothing I can do but trust that Gig is right and she is ok.

After that it was pretty late so there weren’t too many options for dinner.  We ended up at this place that had pizza… Well, first I saw a huge cockroach going into the kitchen.  That was gross, but I’ve seen that in Boston, plus this place had no walls so I guess it was to be expected?  Then, a giant rat! 😮  I didn’t tell Dave.  Then, a few minutes later, he saw the thing, or maybe another one, cross his line of vision in the actual restaurant.  He told me not to look, but I knew what it was.  We were eating the pizza (because we are dumb), and then this HUGE cockroach lands inches away from Dave and the pizza.  I jumped up and it flew away, but that was the end of that.  We took the pizza to go (silly), and paid and left.  Well, I guess something like that is bound to happen in SE Asia sooner or later, so I didn’t really let it get to me.  Back at the hotel, we watched the national geographic channel and went to bed to get up early for a morning at the university.

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