Nightbus to ‘Nam

Day 23: Siem Reap to Phnom Penh

After a solid sleep, I get breakfast and book a night bus to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. It’s time to country hop. I shove everything into my pack, dreaming of the cool water of the pool. I can’t cram fast enough, and I marvel at my unconscious need to challenge the integrity of the seams of the backpack.
My other dorm buddies are already at the pool when I make it down, and we float like a bundle of logs until the rain kicks us out by the gumboots. I take cover in a restaurant across the street with a hammock and wi-fi and cola. The flock of flies zipping around my head and hanging out in my leg hair make me feel corpse-ish. Or turdy.
It’s the last day of the Water Festival, and when the rain lets up a group of us head to the river to watch the dragon boat races and eat Mexican food ’cause we can.

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Eli’s inflamed elbow is a hot topic over lunch, as it is twice the size of his other one and growing, thanks to some unidentified insect. The pregnant lady at the pharmacy speaks zero English and gives him a handful of unlabeled medication. Her son comes to the desk and starts pulling condoms out of a box decorated with pictures of horses and rainbows, and the four of us leave empty handed.
Back at the hostel, the group dissipates. I have time before my 1030 night bus arrives, so I go back to wander town with a fruit smoothie, almost losing track of time. I gather my things in a mad rush just as the shuttle arrives at the hostel. Joe the Brit, seated next to me, fills me in on some history of the Khmer Rouge and the Killing Fields in Phnom Penh. It’s a major part of Cambodia’s history and I feel a twinge of ‘ignorant asshole’ for having no intention of spending time in the city to check it out. At least I just got a crash course.
The shuttle pawns us off to the sleeper bus, with reclining seats where your feet stretch out just beneath the backrest of the seat in front. This works well for the majority of Asians or anyone below 5’6″. But hey, it’s still pretty comfy, plus I get my own ratty children’s cartoon print fleece blanket. Every two hours, the bus stops, and I awake in a groggy stupor. I think my upper lip has cracked in half from the  dry air conditioning.
At 6am the bus pulls into Phnom Penh. Woo! Halfway!
A cute puppy on the sidewalk distracts me until it’s time to board the second bus on the Neverending Journey to ‘NAM!


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