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Getting Our Travel Legs in Cambodia

After 24 hours of flying time (plus three stops), we arrive in Cambodia’s capital city, Phnom Penh, around midnight. Full bore jet lag symptoms (nausea, exhaustion, and insomnia) accompany us to the comfortable and affordable G Mekong Hotel.

Not able to eat much of the included, fantastic breakfast, we walk in zombie-like state the next morning through a blast of infinite scooters that mingle with an array of vehicles. Traffic apocalypse. You must watch your footing on uneven ground with holes full of sewer water, look ahead for opportunistic gaps in traffic, and a “rearview walking mirror” would come in handy as sidewalks are not made for walking.Phnom Penh Somehow this mayhem works. Few accidents occur and road rage does not appear to exist in this gentle culture. We already know from similar experience in Ho Chi Minh City that you must walk with a steady stride so that traffic can adjust to your pace, and flow around you like a school of fish. Of course, we’re lost.  Phnom PenhWising up the following day, we take a tuk-tuk on a mission to walk along the Mekong River, where there’s a sidewalk. Slowly getting our legs back, but still delirious, we wonder if we’re getting too old for this type of travel. Nah, bring on the freaky food! On a walk back to the hotel, we do a reconnaissance mission seeking a restaurant that serves tarantula and red tree ants. Pure Cambodian country fare.Phnom PenhWe get bad news from back home in the states, as my father is hospitalized with serious health problems. Not sure if we need to fly back now or later, we debate our future. Finally, we decide to play it by ear and not make any long-range plans. Another night of insomnia, surely caused by jet lag combined with worries. Either way, it is time for an afternoon beer on a street known for its nightlife.

Cambodians are genuinely nice and non-threatening. Even in the large cities, robberies and violent crime are rare compared to the west. Ironically, our largest “threats” have come from “white” guys either on strange drugs or damaged by something we can’t begin to imagine. Being Adult Probation Officers in a previous life, every older white guy traveling alone must be a child molester in our mind’s eye. Perhaps an unfair assessment, but hard to shake those types of thoughts based on years of training and experience. Tarantula for lunchOkay, a few beers later we visit “Romdeng” restaurant to dine on tarantula with black pepper lime sauce, and red tree ants with beef filet and spicy basil stir fry. The sauce dominates the ant dish, and we have no need to eat tarantula again! This restaurant is staffed by former street youths with teachers that present kids with career training. We’ll return to support this worthy cause but will skip the creepy crawlies next time.Tree fire ants in basil stir fryHealth news from back home gets better, so we book a minivan for a five-hour ride to the small beach community of Kep.KepWe sit in our assigned seats, when two other travelers approach with the same seat booking. Turns out that I booked this ride on internet without noticing that the next available opening was several days away! If we were in the US, we would simply be kicked off the bus. In Cambodia, the driver says, “Oh, problem.” He then removes some cargo, flips out a bench seat for two in the luggage area, and squeezes us in. Resolves problem. Love Cambodia. Never been so happy to sit on the bumpy bench in the back.Views Kep NPKep. Wow! Laid back town with a small beach, surrounded by jungle covered hills and national parks. It has wide streets with sidewalks and an inviting waterfront where a person can sit with a cold beer and watch folks gather bamboo crab pots.  Kep Crab MarketA very welcome calm from city mayhem. We sit on the porch of our fabulous bungalow at “Atmaland,” and relax. As my father’s health slowly improves back home, we start to get our legs back. Kep Crab Market blessingKep, actually known for it’s crabs, lives up to the hype. The crab market has, well, crabs, everywhere, along with squid, octopus, fish, shrimp, sting ray on a stick, and other things we cannot identify.Kep crabsThese tiny blue crabs infused with Kampot pepper sauce demand a good bit of work for little payoff in meat. But then, we are spoiled as far as crab goes, from hanging in places like Oregon and Alaska. While the crab disappoints, the Kampot pepper sauce rocks.Kep crab with Kampot pepperTime for a shaded, mountain hike through a rainforest complete with monkeys and ocean vistas.Kep NPOur bungalow backs up to the Kep National Park. For only one dollar the Park’s five-mile loop trail makes for the perfect morning walk.Kep NPAfter four days of peaceful bliss, we’re hopping a minivan to the nearby town of Kampot. I got the booking date correct this time. Thank you, abundant universe!


19 Comments Post a comment
  1. Tammy Allen-May #

    Love it! Glad to hear your dad is getting better and got guys can continue your adventures. Those bugs and tarantula looked GROSS! Love the monkey pic! Safe travels my friends. ❤️

    February 9, 2018
  2. Skip Redpath #

    Fantastic…can’t wait for the next adventure chapter. Thoughts and prayers for your father…

    February 9, 2018
  3. YeaH!! Love seeing your posts again and taking vicarious adventures with you two. Going to forward to a few friends have lived in Cambodia (back in Seattle now). Keep on keeping on and safe travels!

    February 9, 2018
    • Thanks, Jill. We’re currently in Kampot, and heading to Siem Reap next if all goes well!

      February 9, 2018
  4. We were just talking about visiting Phnom Penh last night. SE Asia does have its share of sketchy foreign dudes. That is interesting to hear your perspective.

    The beach town looks like a great place to see some local life. Enjoy the rest of your trip.

    February 9, 2018
    • Thanks, Jeff. I guess that Mare and I are programmed to think the worse, but there’s definitely a basis for some of it. Definitely not all!

      February 9, 2018
  5. Wouter #

    Was nice meeting you both at atmaland, happy to hear your dad is doing better, aura and wouter (the canadian winos))

    February 9, 2018
    • How wonderful to hear from you! We enjoyed your company as well. Perhaps our paths will cross again, like Aura and Wouter in Thailand.

      February 9, 2018
  6. Stacey #

    Great story! What an adventure as usual. Glad Pop is coining better and you can relax. Maybe reconsider arachnids.

    February 11, 2018
    • Thanks, Stacey. We’ll be looking for smaller critters that are totally deep fried from now on.

      February 10, 2018
  7. Julie Klein #

    Glad to hear your father is doing better. As for tarantulas — NOT! Take care and continue with your adventures; we love hearing from you! Ron and Julie

    February 15, 2018
  8. Making me want to return! Such a great county.

    February 16, 2018
  9. Cambodia was on my bucket list but had to give up going to the far away places. Thanks so much for sharing,
    Mariam Cheshire,

    February 16, 2018
    • You are truly welcome, Mariam. It’s getting more difficult to travel far for us as time and life goes on. Trying to get it in while possible!

      February 17, 2018

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