These past 30 hours have been emotional…
First off, I now understand why Angelina Jolie came to Cambodia to film a movie and “just happened” to adopt a kid while she was here. While Cambodians are overall VERY poor, they are a beautiful culture. The children have these big brown eyes and immensely brilliant smiles, yelling “HELLO!” every time you go by. They’re easy to fall in love with, to say the least.
Phnom Penh is a TRIP. Organized chaos is the only way I can describe it. There are mo-peds/scooters EVERYWHERE. We saw a family of five on one. Son was driving, his mother was on the back, and in between them were two children, no more than six years old, and another, maybe two years old, in his lap. There are few traffic lights, let alone road lanes. Like I said, organized chaos. Unfortunately, today, I became victim to that chaos.
Nate and I started the day by walking over to the Royal Palace to see the Silver Pagodas. Very beautiful. Buddhist were monks all over. Their saffron-colored robes are so pretty. On our way back, we were making our way through that insane traffic (only crossing streets), and I thought it’d be great to get the crazy experience of crossing the street on video. Up to this point, I’ve been very careful about bringing my phone out in public. Regardless, I took it out, and started taking video of us crossing traffic. I had my arm in Nate’s arm to make sure I didn’t get hit. In less than a minute, a guy, on the back of a mo-ped, literally snatched my phone out of my hand. And just kept driving. Away. With my phone. I was PISSED. Felt REALLY stupid. I still am a bit pissed. I yelled. I (characteristically) swore. I cried. I even stomped my feet like a five-year old. I already suspended service, so all should be fine. But it’s my iPhone. It has my music, a couple books I planned to read, my watch, my alarm clock, my phone numbers (so please EMAIL me your phone numbers), all my travel details…basically everything. Oh well. It could have been my purse, which would have been WAY worse. Definitely has made Nate and I quite a bit more gun-shy. And eager to get the hell out of Phnom Penh. We leave on a midnight bus up to Siem Reap in a couple hours.
Once we got back to the hotel, I figured shit out with my phone while Nate checked us out of our hotel. There we waited for our tuk tuk to pick us up and bring us to our four-wheeling tour. Talk about an incredible way to see the area. It started out with us going to the Killing Fields Genocide Museum. From 1975-1979, the Pol Pot communist regime ruled in Cambodia. In two years, more than 1 million people were brutally murdered/executed and buried in mass graves throughout Cambodia. At the Killing Fields site, some 50,000+ bodies have been exhumed. It was incredibly sad — reminded me quite a bit of the concentration camps in Germany. After that, we went on a five-hour, four-wheeling tour on the trails of outer Phnom Penh. Two Italian guys joined us on our voyage, and they were very fun companions. The tour took us past a lot of rice paddies — but was mainly a long, in-depth look into the lives of Cambodians. Was a very memorable experience that I’m really glad we did. I got some really great pictures I can’t wait to share.
More on Phnom Penh…immediately it’s visibly very poor. I’d say about 75% of the roads are unpaved, and the people live in conditions we Americans would absolutely consider sub-standard. But they seem to be so happy. And are very curious. It’s almost shocking how quickly and dramatically it goes from very, very poor to very, very gentrified.
So at this point, doing fine. Still a bit irritated about my phone, but I’m getting over it. I’m absolutely FILTHY from our four-wheeling tour, but I’m going to have to deal with it for a few hours. And I’m tired. But I did take some time to just reflect on what happened, what I have to be appreciative for, and keep trucking away. I’m not going to let this reflect badly on my trip, especially Cambodia. I mean, it’s a fucking PHONE. So, we’re off to our next stop: Siem Reap — the gateway to Angkor Wat. Can’t wait!
Oh, and remember to email me your phone number (firstname.lastname@example.org). I’m not sure what gets recovered once I get a replacement phone when I get home, so email me rather than text.