Day 18 & 19: Kampot to Phnom Penh
Day 18: Kampot
After a couple days of cliffhanging and cascade-chasing, a day of rest seems appropriate. We eat three full meals, drink three full beers, and don’t raise our bodies above sea level.
Flo’s phone never showed up in the dark last night when he went back for it. This morning, after going back again to search for it in the light of day, it appears the jungle has adopted it as it’s own. Or perhaps it has been sacrificed as a peace offering to the Buddha statue. Maybe his karma just shot through the roof. Or maybe a tiger has a new chew toy.
We mobile-shop-hop in the hot sun and find a replacement phone. In the evening, we follow our whims to the other side of the river, through a village and over a sloppy mudfield being used as a garbage dump. It’s a wonder we stop here to relax, but a little kid with a trash-scrap kite seems to have made the most of it, so we figure, “why not?”
Then back on the other side of the water, we langouriously walk until we can hardly see each others faces for the lack of light, and head up to a balcony restaurant. We giggle over our pricey dinners and again spend far too long at the table in discussion of German engineering and how to not look creepy while working out at a childrens’ playground: keep your shirt on and avoid conversations with strange fathers who encourage introductions to their young daughters.
19: Kampot to Phnom Penh
An early morning solo walk gets me thinking; my instincts are muddling with my nearly week long stationary state in Kampot. It’s so good here, but in the theme of traveling, it’s time to go now.
Flo is up soon after I return, and we head to Jack’s Place for breakfast. A tiny kid with a heart shaved into the back of his head runs around with a pocket-sized puppy who chews on his fingers.
After breakfast, Flo helps me search for a cheap bus to my next destination, but they all leave in the next couple hours. I pack my bag while Flo, ever the gentleman, scoots around to find me the best bus deal. He finds one heading to Phnom Penh at 330pm with a connecting one to Siem Reap at 11pm.
There are a couple hours for lunch before I have to catch my bus, so we settle in at a nearby restaurant. Somehow the time moves faster than our convesation and I suddenly have to be at the bus in five minutes. Flo urges me to go ahead and promises to meet me there. I pass the bus on my way to the hostel. The booker across the street yells at me and I run for my bag, hop on the back of his bike and we race to the station. We pass Flo on the way and he pulls a U-ey behind us, and our two scooters pull up to the parked bus a few streets over. Whew.
We even have a few minutes to hug goodbye. Goodbye for now, we say. What an adventure we’ve had! Maybe we will meet again in Vietnam?
Goodbyes are less bitter when it’s certain you will see the other person again. As it is with traveling, these things are impossible to know. My bus pulls away from Kampot and I shove my sunglasses onto my face to hide my reddening eyes. Today, I must go a little bit further. Bye for now, Crazy German.
Through the dirty window, the sky turns from light to dark as the driver lays on the horn for seventy five percent of the ride. The bus pulls into the multicoloured lightshow that is Phnom Penh. I have four hours to kill here while I wait for the bus to Siem Reap. The night market across the street is bumpin’; crowds and strange food and all the tacky colourful clothes you could never want. I stray off to the city streets and find a tiny vendor with my favourite – catfish. A young Khmer guy motions to the seat next to him and we watch obese white men in loud Hawaiian print shirts walk into clubs where baby-faced girls sit out front in next to nothing. We discuss the sex trade in Cambodia. He says most of the girls are 15 to 18 years old, and have families. A middle aged man enters one of the doors with his shoulders back and comes out a little later with his hands on the small of girls back. The catfish in my stomach churns.
Then he drives me to the bus station in his tuk-tuk, and I wave goodbye.
Climbing inside, I am elated to see it’s a sleeper bus. I have my own big bed in the very back, where I fall asleep for the next eight hours and wake up in another town.