Life’s Rambling

It’s fall in Estes Park… probably my favorite time of year. The tourists calm down, the leaves start to change, the big bull elk walk through town with their huge antlers. It’s also one of my least favorite times of the year, as it reminds me that winter is almost here. It’s not that I don’t appreciate the change of seasons and the things that make winter enjoyable, it’s purely that I love summer so much. I love the hiking, the hectic scheduling, the money (greedy of me, I know), the wonderful wonderful people, and the feeling that every day I wake up and I am in the exact right place doing the exact right thing.

Since I’ve graduated college, I’ve had to make a choice every fall. What will I do this winter? Do I have enough money? Where do I want to live? It’s stressful, and I think I would enjoy it a lot more if I had more ideas. The problem is I just simply don’t know what to do. Do I stay in one spot? Do I travel? DO I get a real job? Do I live off of my savings? The problem with this overwhelming freedom and flexibility in life, is that every choice can completely change everything. I’m never sure if the things I am doing are bringing me closer to where I want to be… but I don’t even know where I want to be!

I’ve gotten some wonderful advice from people who are older than me. They tell me, be happy with this freedom. You are so lucky to be 24 and have drive and vision and supportive friends and family. The world is huge and you have all the time in the world. And I agree, completely. So… I am trying to take their advice.

I have made plenty of money working my BUTT off this summer, sometimes giving up being outdoors, hiking, and seeing more of my friends. I received a pay check from 6 different employers… The Rock Inn, Kent Mountain Adventure Center, The Mountain Shop, Kirk’s flyfishing, Ed’s Cantina, and the School District for coaching the volleyball teams. I worked double, sometimes triple shifts. I’m not entirely sure why… I no longer needed the money. But I do really enjoy all of my jobs, and I also have a problem saying no when people ask something from me. It’s paid off, but I’m about to go blow it all again.

On October 26th, I am flying out to Sacramento, where Becca Caldwell is going to pick me up and take me to Yosemite. There, I will meet a handful of other people who are spending their vacation out there. After that, the plan is pretty up in the air. I will be in the valley until the 31st, and then I’m jumping in a van with Quinn, Wes, and Dustin, where we will drive the long way back to Denver. I’m not sure specifically where the stops will include, but there’s been talk of Zion, and then Vegas for Quinn’s 30th birthday. Who knows.

My other big plan is a trip to Argentina with Tommy and Becca Caldwell, Kelly Cordes, Jay Parry, and Kaci Yoh. We are flying down to El Chalten on December 1st, where I will spend 2.5 weeks in Patagonia, hopefully hiking and exploring Argentina as much as possible. Tommy has rented a house for the month, and the town is apparently a pretty interesting tourist town. I’m excited to see another country by staying in one spot for a few weeks, instead of trying to see a little of everything.

SO there’s all of that… and I guess my biggest dilema is what comes next? Life throws you some big uncertainties, and definitely makes you question a lot of things you thought you were sure of. I think I’m not sure of anything anymore, and maybe that’s the way it should be. It’s all one big adventure.

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Phnom Penh

It’s monday here in Cambodia, and that means our first day of TESOL classes. Yesterday was a tour of Phnom Penh, the capital city. 1.5 million people live here and they live very close together. Everytime we venture out to find breakfast, or take a tuk tuk ride through the city, I am astounded just watching the people. Old ladies pulling huge carts full of food. Giant pigs roasting on the side of the road to be purchased fresh and eaten on the street. Whole streets where all they sell is tires. Huge mansions right next to abandoned lots. But the most overwhelming thing here is the traffic. Mostly everyone drives motos (small motorcyles or scooters), either alone or pulling a tuktuk. There are a few cars scattered throughout, mostly Lexus and Landrovers (which seemed odd to me until someone pointed out that they were owned by NGO workers who live in Cambodia). What’s important, though, is there are absolutely no traffic laws. None. At all. Even when we see a traffic light (which is rare), people just run right through it. If theres traffic, motos drive on the sidewalk or the other side of the road. Most of the time there arent even lines and its a free for all where youre not sure whether youre on the left or the right side. It’s absolute chaos, and both a thrill and extremely scary.

We visited a few ancient temples, and important parts of Cambodian history yesterday. I learned a bit about Buddhism, and even had the chance to talk a Buddhist monk. We were wandering the Royal Palace, when he came up to me and asked me where I was from. We small talked about the USA, and then Cambodia. He was probably in his 30s, and spoke very eloquently. You can feel the kindness from the monks. If ever you make eye contact with them, they instantly smile at you. I like them very much. Also at the Royal Palace, I wandered up a porch where there were a few men playing instruments, like a xylophone (more rustic and made from wood) and some drums. They asked me if I wanted to play with them, so I sat down, he showed me a few notes to play, and I played music with them! It was a lot of fun, and Val has a video so I’ll post it when I can.

We’re leaving for school in 30 minutes, and I’m sure that will be a task in itself, so I will let you know how it turns out!

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Week 1 in Cambodia

It’s thursday night here in Phnom Penh (thursday morning in America), and the first week of classes is winding down. Routine is setting in, but I’ll start you off with a few more of the interesting and exciting things that have happened this week.
First, and most importantly, today we saw the king! Apparently thats a rare occurence, and it was quite special for us to see him. We were sitting enjoying a beer after class, and suddenly the roads got eerily quiet (which in phnom penh is odd because every street is always swarming with activity). Suddenly a motorcade comes through, with the king in a black SUV, sticking his head out the window, waving and smiling. I think we made eye contact. (he’s about 30 years old and single… maybe I could be the next queen of cambodia?)

Today we also got a massage for 6$. An hour long massage… six dollars. It was wonderful, and if we can find cheap ones in Thailand for this price, I will make it a weekly occurence. SIX DOLLARS!

Yesterday we walked all around Phnom Penh. Pretty much the entire length. The city is always bustling and I feel like there are always a million things to look at. We walked for about 4 hours, stopping along the way for beer or dinner. At a park in the heart of downtown, there are often many young people about, playing soccer or badmington, or just hanging out. Typically there is music playing and aerobics happening. We happened to see this yesterday, with a big dance sequence. It was so fun to watch, and I’m working up the nerve to join next time.

Every day I’m here I love this country more and more. I love how friendly people are, how relatively untouched it is from tourism, and its history. This is where the ancient khmer empire started, where the roots of Buddhism began, and where the deadly khmer rouge happened. The country has been in such turmoil for the last 30 years, and is just now beginning to gain its feet again. They are desperate for english teachers here, and there are multiple volunteer opportunities for everything else. Its a beautiful story, in my opinion, and it’s really neat to witness it and even be a part of it, if only briefly.

It feels like long days in class, but after class it’s been all fun. It is nice to be in the schedule and routine of classes every day. The school we take it at is a major language school right in the downtown of the city, with many khmer’s (the word for cambodian natives) taking classes in rooms right next to us. I especially love it when I see monks walking around in classes all around me.

Tomorrow we leave for Ankor Wat and Siem Reap. I’m anxious to see the country side. Don’t worry, I’ll be posting pictures soon.

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Ancient Ruins

We spent the last 3 days in Siem Reap, in the north of Cambodia. Although its largely consumed by tourism and feels a little bit like an amusement park at times, theres not denying the history and grandeur of the 1,000 year old temples. Cambodia has fluctuated between buddhism and hinduism for the last millenium, so some temples were built for one religion, and then finished in the style of another. The most interesting thing, to me, was that these temples were deserted in the 14 or 1500s when Cambodia was at war with Vietnam. Khmers knew of the existence of these temples, but they didnt gain atetntion until the late 1800s. Because they were neglected for a few centuries, they fell apart and are slowly being retaken over by nature. One of the temples was where Angelina Jolie filmed tomb raider, and it has an eerie feel to it. There are ruins everywhere and trees growing amongst all of the ruins.
Angkor wat is so overrun by tourists, and while it takes away a bit of the charm, it is amazing how unregulated the tourism seems. They make sure that you pay for your admission, but then its a free for all within the temple–you can climb all over the ancient ruins, up sketchy and decomposing stairways, etc etc. It was fun to be able to experience it unregulated, even if you felt like every other tourist there.
The touristy feel of Siem Reap isn’t my favorite experience about Cambodia, but it was nice having some modern comforts. We stayed in a nice hotel (with a pool!) for only 7 bucks a person, free breakfast and everything. There was TV with HBO (!) and hot showers. We ate mexican food for dinner one night (at least a mexican food attempt), and went to a bar overflowing with english speaking tourists. It definitely didn’t have an authentic feel, but it was nice to feel at home for a weekend.
We’re back in Phnom Penh for the 2nd week of training. Tomorrow I will go to the Thai Embassy to get my visa. We leave for Thailand on friday, which I’m looking forward to. That’s all for now, enjoy the pictures!! (both from Phnom Penh. The monks in the truck are in front of the school where we go to school. I don’t think i’ll ever get sick of seeing them around.)

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Quirky Cambodia

Sometimes it feels we’re living not only in a different country, but a different era. Everything feels like its 30 years behind the times, which can be quite frustrating. For example, the internet? sucks. If you’ve noticed, I havent uploaded many pictures. It takes FOREVER. And surfing the web? painfully slow. It’s quite frustrating, but I have to remind myself that I’m in a third world country and I can’t expect the comforts of home.

Some other Cambodian Odities:
– They have their own monetary system here, which is called Riels. It’s about 4000 Riels to 1 dollar. HOWEVER, every person and store in Pnom Penh not only takes dollars, but has change for dollars. When I go to an ATM, i pull out dollars. I tell my tuktuk driver I will pay him 3$ (Not 12000 reil, but 3$)
– The city (like many SE Asian cities) is swarming with dogs. I used to be a dog lover, but now I can hear dogs barking at 6 am, and see mangy dogs digging through trash in the street. They seem to belong to no one, and I definitely have no urge whatsoever to pet them.
– I can’t get over how friendly people are. Even if theyre begging you for money, and you say no, they still smile at you. Or if they ask you if you want a tuktuk ride and you say no, they’ll still give you directions to where you’re going. People are so overwhelmingly friendly, its made me more friendly. I love exchanging smiles with Cambodians. (It’s pretty easy to do too, because as a white person it feels like you are ALWAYS being stared at.)
– I’ve seen more naked kids than I’ve ever thought was possible. I’d say I see on average 7 naked children every day. On top of that, at least 2 or 3 times a day, I see men peeing in the street.
– Maybe they pee in the streets, because even if youre using a public bathroom, theres no toilet paper anyway. There are hoses to rinse off with (which is weird) but never toilet paper.
– Locally grown fruits and vegetables are cheap cheap cheap (we’re talking 50 cents…), whereas processed, mainstream food we typically eat at home is RIDICULOUSLY expensive. M&Ms = 5.00. Pringles = 4.50, etc etc. At least we’re eating well.
– Also, there seems to be no such thing as credit cards. There are a few ATMs scattered randomly throughout, but if you don’t have cash on you… you’re screwed.
– I feel like every day I’m doing a double take… an old lady carrying a basket of fruit on her head. An old man pushing a cart full of loaves of bread. Kids walking naked in the streets by themselves (WHERE ARE THEIR PARENTS!??!).

Life is strange here but its never boring!!

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Well I made it to Thailand, and it feels like a world away from Cambodia. It’s been a crazy few days.

Friday morning we left at the crack of dawn in a tuktuk to the bus station. We had a 6 hour trip to the thai border, which was an adventure in itself. It was a double decker bus, that blasted (very very loudly) Cambodian music videos the whole time. We had a few rest stops that offered sites to see… people push starting vans filled with way too many passengers… vans that are overflowing with luggage and live chickens hanging out the back… It was an amusing trip. When we reached the Thai border, they unloaded all of our bags and left us standing on the side of the road. We walked up to a window, got our passports stamped, and then walked 200 feet across the border. It’s a funny thing to walk across the border… they don’t let cars drive across, so everyone just walks over. Rick, our teacher, was there to meet us on the other side. We loaded up and drove another 2 hours to catch the ferry over to Koh Chang, the island we were staying at for the weekend. We arrived on the ferry at sunset, and watching the mountainous island draw closer it looked like paradise.

Our weekend at Koh Chang was a little like paradise. We sunbathed on the beach for 7 hours on saturday, drinking 50 cent coconut smoothies and reading. It was beautiful weather and the beach is white sand, blue/green water, and surprisingly uncrowded. Saturday night we went to a restaurant on a pier that floats on the ocean. We watched the sunset, and it was incredibly picturesque with fishing boats and palm trees. On sunday morning we drove into to the national park, which makes up 90% of the island. We went for a short 15 minute walk, to a beautiful 50 ft waterfall, which we went swimming it. After we ate sticky rise and spiced chicken… thai food is incredible.

We spent 3 more hours in the car, and arrived in Pattaya tonight (Sunday). Val and I are sharing a small apartment above the languagecorps classroom. It’s very modern here, and seems a million times different than cambodia. There are real roads (they drive on the left), legit traffic laws, and we even went to a supermarket that was better than walmart. It feels more like America than anywhere we’ve been, and its nice to have some comforts from home.

Tomorrow I start student teaching, which I’m very excited for and a little nervous about. Every day something new!

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Holy Crap

Holy crap… That’s the phrase of the day. It was a crazy, crazy day. I’ll start at the beginning. My moto driver picks me up at 8 am (like he will everyday for the next two weeks). I sit on the back of his moto (side saddle, wearing a helmet) and cling on for dear life. It’s actually a fun ride speeding through town on the back of a moto… but it does feel a bit life threatening (don’t worry mom, its safe).

I’m student teaching at a school called the Railway school. It is a public school, but most of the teachers and students are muslim. A lot of the girls and all of the teachers wear scarves that cover their head. It’s a nice school, although no air conditioning… I hope the kids don’t judge me as a sweaty teacher. I’m teaching kids ages 6-13, randomly throughout the week. I don’t repeat with the same kids again until next week, which means lots of lesson planning.

After today, with 6 year olds, I don’t mind one bit that I won’t see them again. It was C H A O S. They were actually quite bright. They understood a few commands, and we worked on numbers and animals. However, it is incredibly difficult to discipline, or even give detailed directions, to someone who speak limited english. Explaining games, organizing into teams, making sure the five boys in the class are sitting in their seats and not running around… very very difficult. So far I’ve learned one very important thing… i like older kids.

It’s not all bad though. A lot of the kids were very sweet, quick to please me, and very competitive when the games did succeed. I do it all over again tomorrow. Teaching is exhausting.

I rode back on my moto, had lunch, and then we started thai class. The language of thai is hard to pronounce, but not very complicated. It’s fun to learn and practice with the other newbie english teachers in the class. Val and I make fun of each other a lot.

After class, Val and I ventured down to the beach (we’re about a 15 minute walk), into the crazy INSANE, scary, overwhelming, stimulating, surreal town of Pattaya. I could come up with many more adjectives. This town is weird. We took a baht bus (a funny taxi truck where you hop in and out of the back cab of a truck and pay 10 baht or 40 cents) to the mall there. The mall is HUGE. six floors. Escalators going in every direction. Designer shops, book stores, boutiques, fancy restaurants. Fancier than anything i’ve ever seen in colorado. a huge movie complex. A video arcade. A ridiculously large foodcourt serving dairy queen, burger king, KFC, and many more. Val and I were shocked, and spent a good hour just gawking at everyone and everything. Afterwards, we walked down to the beach and walked along beach road. It’s along the beach but I did not see one pretty view. Mostly because it’s blocked by the crowds of prostitutes and dirty old men flocking to them. Pattaya… where dirty old men go to indulge themselves. At least it’s international… I saw men from all over the world taking part. Not so fun.

In spite of everything today was a great day. Val and I made a lot of jokes about the craziness of what we saw around us and experienced today. And it’s all about the experience, right?

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Bangkok

Val and I spent the weekend in Bangkok. We took a bus from Pattaya to Bangkok on Friday afternoon, which only took us about 2 hours, so it was pretty painless. However, navigating through Bangkok was not so painless. Bangkok has 11 million people, and seems infinitely large. There are many different neighborhoods, and no easy public transportation system. Luckily, taxis aren’t too expensive (the most we paid was 8$… typically it is 3$), but they’re stressful in their own way. Since they don’t speak english, it’s hard to tell them where you want to go. On top of that, it seems like they’re always trying to get a little more money from you… taking wrong turns, bargaining a price that differs from the meter, trying to get you to stop at a market so they can get a ‘coupon’ from their friends…. overall incredibly stressful. We didn’t get into any trouble, but we did stay pretty suspicious of everyone. I’m happy to be back in a city where I can walk places and the motos and baht buses are pretty reliable.
Bangkok is also crowded. So ridiculously crowded. Stand still traffic at all times of the day. Sidewalks so full of people that you have to walk on the road. Not at all pleasant.

It’s not all bad news, though… you get the feeling that Bangkok has a lot of interesting places, surprises around each corner, interesting people to look at, and other unique findings. We spent a lot of time just looking around at everything. It was overly stimulating.

Friday night we met up with my friend Molly who is living in Kanchanaburi teaching english. We went to Kao San Road, which is a famous tourist road filled with many bars, and people… plus little shops and carts selling cool looking souvenirs and clothes. Val and I bought a few things and practiced our bargaining skills, which I’m not so great at. We met up with a few other American English teachers living in bangkok, and it was fun to hear their stories and get some more info about life in bangkok.
Saturday morning we did the tourist thing… We visited the Grand Palace and the Emerald Buddha. Very beautiful architecture and detail. After, we took a water taxi up to a different neighborhood in Bangkok, where we visited the biggest market in Thailand. It was sensory overload as well, and who knew there was so much “stuff” for sale. Anything you could imagine… clothes, trinkets, toys, paintings, dishware, food… all laid out in stalls, some surprisingly close together. It was fun to explore, and we definitely got lost in the maze of things and were lucky to find our way out.
Saturday night we went out again. I’m not even sure what neighborhood we were in… but it had bright lights, many bars, and stuff for sale. Which describes many many streets in bangkok. Molly was great at showing us new things we could eat… chicken on a stick, sticky rice, papaya salad (my favorite), fried spicy fish (we think it was fish….), roasted nuts, and more… I want to try more street food because its cheap and delicious, but there aren’t menus, i don’t speak thai, and sometimes I’m not quite sure what it is that is for sale.

For the future… Val and I have decided to return to Cambodia to teach English. While thailand is interesting, the timing and job market in Phnom Penh is much much better. Also, some of our friends from the languagecorps program stayed there and it is a good community of people. Val left today to finish her student teaching there. I will finish my student teaching in Pattaya, travel for ten days in Thailand, and then go back to Cambodia too. For anyone that was dying to visit me in Thailand, you should reconsider Cambodia! It’s cheap, and its more rustic… its like Thailand 20 years ago.

That’s all for now… I’d love to hear from everyone else, so send me an email when you have time!!

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Kanchanaburi

Well, I’ve been traveling for one month now, but I finally feel like I’m on vacation. Kanchanaburi is a town (and province) two hours west of Bangkok. I decided to spend a few days here visiting my friend Molly, and seeing some of the ecotourist side of Thailand.

Kanchanaburi’s claim to fame is the bridge over river Kwai… there are a lot of museums here that talk about the area during world war 2. I visited the JEATH Museum, which showed pictures and gave info about the several thousand POWs (mostly Australian) who died here, and the thousands of Thais as well. Most died from diseases and inadequate medical supplies. It has an interesting story for those of you who haven’t read the book or seen the movie. The POWs were being driven by the japonese to work 18 hours per day, but living in terror of being bombed by the Americans.

Kanchanaburi also has quite a selection of ecotourist excursions. I signed up for one, and left on a day trip with a small group made up of swiss, german, french, and british travelers… It was a good group and I made some new friends. We spent the morning at a waterfall called Erawan waterfall. I’ve been to a few waterfalls in my traveling, and this is by far the best. At times I thought it was fake. I hiked to the top, which took about an hour, then on the way down I stopped to swim in a few of the pools. The waterfalls had some natural rock slides, so we had some fun climbing up and sliding down. There are fish in the pools, both big and small, that swarm to you when you swim, and eat your dead skin off. It feels like theyre nibbling at your skin, and while it only just tickles, the occasional big fish takes a bite that stings.

After lunch, we went to an elephant camp, where I rode on the back of an elephant named, boombay. I got to sit on her head, while the tourguide walked ahead. At first it was a little frightening, but she walked so slow and had such a sturdy step that I wasn’t worried about falling off any longer. I think elephants are fascinating, and it was fun to see them up close.
We had a few other stops on the tour, including a bamboo raft, and a train ride on the “death railway” (the one built by POWs during WW2).

Back in town, I met up with Molly, and the Thai “mother” she lives with, Peoria. They took me out to dinner, and showed me some new thai dishes that are delicious (som dtam plaad grobe, moo yan, ptom yon goon….. translated this is spicy papaya salad with crispy fish, fried pork slices with sticky rice, and a mushroom and shrimp soup). It’s nice to have people around who know what to order… and for cheap too! After dinner we met up with some other teachers that work with Molly. A guy from scotland, a guy from Turkey, and a girl from Germany. They were all interesting and had positive teaching experiences to share with me.

I’ve spent some time exploring the city here too… My first day I rented a bicycle and cruised around town. It was nice to be out of the crowded cities of Pattaya and Bangkok, and see the rural countryside of Thailand. Today, Molly and I rented motobikes and cruised up through the mountains and on some backroads. It was a lot of fun to see the people working in the rice fields, driving goats across the road, rural temples that are being overgrown with plants, roosters strutting around. Everything was picturesque. And then there’s the motobike… Extremely fun and a bit frightening all at the same time. We rented the bikes for 3$ each… they weren’t difficult to drive, but it was still interesting to navigate the roads. Driving on the left, passing others and being passed, trying to read signs written in thai. It was tons of fun. Molly and I stopped at a small restaurant on the side of the road for dinner… There was no one else around, we sat on the side of the road under grass canopies, and watched the sun go down behind the river. Unreal.

Tomorrow I’m taking a minibus to Bangkok, an overnight train to Surat Thani, a bus to Krabi, and a ferry to Koh Phi Phi (an island in southern thailand). It will be almost 24 hours of traveling… yikes. Wish me luck!

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The island of Phi Phi

Koh Phi Phi is an island of the Andaman Coast (the western side) of southern Thailand.

Traveling to Koh Phi Phi was quite an adventure in itself. Minibus-train-bus-anotherbus-taxi-ferry-longboat, and voila, 27 hours later I’m on an island in paradise. No one said it would be easy…
The island has beaches spread throughout, but most are only accessible by boat. There are no roads, and the town is a maze of paths littered with clothing shops, souvenir stands, restaurants, 7/11 stores, bars and more. It is not your traditional thailand scene, that is for sure. We stayed at a resort on one of the more secluded beaches, called Long Beach. It was a much nicer beach, mostly filled with families, couples, and older people, and it was nice to escape the craziness that is the main part of the island. It was a 45 minute hike (purposefully I avoid the word walk, here) to the main part of town. Literally it was a truudge along the beach, a treacherous climb up a slope equipped with ropes, more paths through the jungle, more beach walking, and then navigating through the chaos that is town. It was a fun trip though so we made it every day to socialize a bit (mostly with australians and europeans… there were surprisingly few americans on this island).

The island itself was unreal. Sheer cliffs of jungle, interrupted by white sand and green and blue waters. The water was warm, and the sand so clean and bright. When I went swimming, fish swam everywhere about me… schools of colorful fish of all different sizes. We took a snorkeling trip to the smaller islands around us and there was plenty to look at under the sea… plants and fish everywhere. To see the other islands we went on a tour in a long boat (a long fishing boat with a long rutter that is manouvered in and out of the water). One island is famous from the movie “The Beach” with Leonardo DiCaprio. It was shockingly beautiful, but it’s unfortunate that it has been discovered by tourists… There were so many of them (literally thousands) that you couldn’t even see the sand. We went to some smaller beaches and islands… one rightly named Monkey Island because it was filled with monkeys hanging from the trees and snatching food offered to them by tourists. That beach was my favorite… not as touristy and a nice atmosphere. Unfortunately for me, this day I decided I would forgo sunscreen on my back, and as punishment suffered the next day. I’m sporting a nice tan now, though, so don’t feel too bad for me.
We spent 4 nights and 5 days on the island, and it was a paradise, but I was definitely ready to leave. There’s only so much sunbathing and reading one can do before it gets a little old. (As a side note, with the amount of traveling and vacationing I’ve been doing, I’ve finished 10 books since I’ve arrived…). The trip back from Koh Phi Phi to Phnom Penh was even worse. It goes like this: long boat-ferry-taxi-overnight bus-taxi-airplane-tuktuk. The worst was that the overnight bus was packed full of people (designed for tiny asian people). I spent a sleepless night shoving off an old American traveler who kept resting his head on my shoulder, and kicking the seat in front of me because the guy reclined his seat right onto my lap. By the time we reached Bangkok at 5:30 AM, I was less than thrilled. My flight wasn’t scheduled until 1:30 pm, but luckily I arrived to the airport early enough to catch the 7:30 AM flight.
While I was off touring around Thailand, Val was busy here in Phnom Penh making friends, interviewing and finding us a place to live. She found us a BEAUTIFUL apartment in a good part of the city… We have a nice balcony, 3 large bedrooms (we live with our friend Shiloh as well), a large living room, wireless internet, air conditioning, cable TV, a nice kitchen… it’s perfect. and the price? 350/month. split 3 ways. Currently we have 2 friends of ours staying here for a few weeks, so things are even cheaper than that. Tomorrow I will explore the neighborhood a little more, and hopefully set up some interviews for some jobs. It seems not too difficult… most schools are looking for young white American girls to interview, so it sounds like I fit the bill.
I’m glad I had a chance to see Thailand… it’s a beautiful country with a lot to offer, good food, and an interesting culture. However, I feel like it’s already been discovered by the tourists of the world. Cambodia seems much more untouched by western culture. It was strange to feel like I was coming home again as I drove back from the airport… but the city is inviting, in its own dirty underdeveloped way. The people are friendly, things are way cheaper even than Thailand, and it’s retained some of its culture that hasn’t been commercialized for the effect of tourists. It’s good to be back.
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