Sunday, 27 September 2009

From Russia With Rees: Phnomh Penh (Cambodia)

Saturday 26th September 2009
(CAAI News Media)

The thing I am starting to love about travelling is the terrifying feeling I get every time I step off a bus into an entirely new and overwhelming place. There is about 5 seconds when I just want to curl up in a ball and sing softly to myself while the people jabber and the traffic roars past and I have absolutely no idea of where or what anything is. But I can't. So there is nothing for it except hoisting TB onto my back and striding off into the fray.

And that’s how it was a few hours ago when I was ejected off the bus into Phonmh Penh's busy market place where armies of motorbike drivers were waving and shouting at me. But I stormed on through the panic and located a guide-recommended backpacker joint, which turned out to be a wooden structure hanging (literally) off the edge of the lake, at the end of a dark corridor at the bottom of a dirty muddy street. Fantastic.

But before I get too absorbed in Cambodia, I must bid farewell to Vietnam. I had a wonderful weekend in Ho Chi Minh, which is a really easy place to be. There are restaurants and bars galore, markets, food stalls, interesting sights and proper coffee shops (hurray!). There is the posh district, with flash hotels and Gucci shops; the backpacker village, with family-run guesthouses and laundry for 50p; and then local land, where the markets and food stalls are crammed down alleys and on the edge of streets and the ladies slop noodle soup floating with squidgy things into bowls and smile. There is a lot of traffic and noise but also parks and lakes and families out together. It just seemed to have everything.

Perhaps my calm appreciation for the noisy place comes from having had a full body massage (1.30 GBP) by a trained blind Vietnamese lady. I could practically here my poor shoulders sighing in ecstasy!

I left Vietnam in the pouring rain this morning and vowed that I would be back. It has been a fascinating place, with so much more to offer than I realised. And still so much that I didn't manage to see!

But I must let that go now and embrace Cambodia and the next adventure!

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