I Love Cambodia
I had no idea what to expect before coming to Cambodia. We came here mostly on a whim, wanting to get out of Bangkok, and only knowing a couple of towns that we wanted to go to. We first ended up in a hotel called "Me Mates Place" in the middle of Phnom Penh, Cambodia's capital.
It turned out to be a wonderful stroke of luck. The place was very nice, reasonably priced, and the staff was amazingly friendly. Sometimes a bit too eager to try and sell tours and touk-touk rides, but mostly they just like talking to us. The area of the hotel was great as well. Hot, dirty, crowded, and completely absent of tourists. We were able to walk around without constantly being asked to buy something, or get in a touk-touk.
After the chaos and psuedo-culture of Khao San road in Bangkok, it was great to be able to see real Southeast Asian city life. The endless little shops and street venders, the insane motorcycle traffic, and people everywhere. It is crazy, but at least it's real. This is the kind of thing people don't get to experience when they only go to the tourist-spots. Sure, it may be a little harder to find a good internet connection, or a waiter that speaks English, but to me it's totally worth it.
We spent a couple days in Me Mates Place, not doing anything, really. We just enjoyed being there. Afterwards, at the recommendation of fellow travel-blogger Nomadic Matt we went to the tiny fishing town of Kep. It was a great recommendation.
The first day, we noticed a motorcycle rental place right by our hotel. Expecting it to be expensive, we checked it out and found that we could get two motorcycles for the entire day for just $13! How this is profitable, I have no idea. We gladly accepted their offer and spent the whole day cruising around the countryside, just taking it all in. It was as much a cultural experience as exploring the capital.
There aren't anywhere close to the number of people in the country as there are in the city, but compared to the Kentucky farmland I'm used to seeing, there are people everywhere. Riding on these roads requires extreme concentration. When someone wants to merge into traffic, they just pull out, and it's up to you to not hit them. There is no such thing as right-of-way in this country, but as long as you pay attention and just expect everyone to pull in front of you, it's not so bad.
On the way back to the hotel that afternoon, we road through a hilly section surrounded by big trees, I was concentrating on the curves up ahead and after a minute, realized that Sam wasn't behind me. I turned around and saw him with his camera looking into the trees with a huge smile on his face. I went back to see what he was looking at, and realized it was monkeys! Lots of monkeys! They were climbing in the trees all around us, even little baby ones. I've never seen wild monkeys before, so it was a really wonderful moment for me. I can't believe I just rode by them without even noticing. The exciting times on this trip just don't seem to end.