Thursday, March 8, 2012

they told us this would happen

before we left home, back in july 2011, we read a ton of travel blogs and talked to as many people as we could to answer the millions of questions we had. one recurring theme was "you're going to get tired. you're going to reach a point where you need to take a break. when that happens, forget the budget, find a nice hotel and enjoy it for a few days." essentially, take a break from your break.

our view from breakfast this morning where we're writing this post.
villa paradiso, phnom penh, cambodia.
we thought "no way, how could travel fatigue ever set in? travel is awesome and you're literally on vacation every single day." now, this is in no way a complaint but truth be told, travel is a lot of work. well, we seem to have hit that moment.

we wouldn't necessarily call it fatigue as much as "this city is freakin' hot and we're covered in sweat five seconds after we step out the door. perhaps it's time for some creature comforts, like an a/c unit that functions for the full 24 hours promised?"

after weeks through the serene countryside of northern laos, then through the quiet southlands of cambodia we arrived in phnom penh, the chaotic capital of cambodia. as i type this at 10:00am it's already 88 degrees. when we arrived on the bus the other day at 1:00pm, it was 97 degrees. being budget-conscious, we duly checked into our cheap but well-reviewed guesthouse and were happy to find ourselves in a cool, quiet room. but after a couple of times walking through the bar at the front of the guesthouse, we started to feel a little queasy when it dawned on us that the only people there were pasty, middle-aged white guys with young, beautiful cambodian girls. as a german woman described them to us back in thailand, "transactional relationships."

welcome to phnom penh. bus station upon our arrival from kep.
just LOOK at all those people. 
then 6:30am the next day, BBBBBBBZZZZZZZZZZZ! outside our window! turns out, we checked in on a sunday, all was quiet, but on monday morning a coffin production workshop (yes, coffins!) was a few feet from where we were sleeping and the grinding and sanding and pounding and yelling sounded as if they were in our room. michelle popped her head up, looked at me and asked "we should move, yes?" i nodded, now wide awake. we step out of the room and a rat goes shooting down the hallway. strike three. i mean, it's a big city in southeast asia, rats happen, we get that but it was enough.

view from the 'foreign correspondent's club' on the
river front, our happy hour location for four nights running.
the serenity of the riverside belies the hot chaos behind us.

we scoured the town for another place, got a reservation from a highly-rated little guesthouse, returned to get our stuff from the first place (BBBBBZZZZZ still going on in full force) and upon arriving again were told, "i'm sorry, while you were gone someone booked your room online, now we have no place for you." wait, what? well, awkwardness followed (he was french, after all :)) and i suggested he just say no to the online booking. he grunted and relented. that kicked off an awkward couple of days in a dark room with an anemic a/c unit.

SCREW IT! we're moving across town, we're blowing our budget and finding a pool. done. we're now at the villa paradiso, a green, lush, quiet oasis in the middle of a loud, dusty, chaotic city with the temperature quickly rising and we love it.

we have had nothing but wonderful luck with our accommodations. we are not complaining in any way, travel really is as awesome and fulfilling as we ever dreamed it would be. but you know what? others were right, it's good to blow some cash and remind yourself what a great shower, a nice pool, working appliances, fantastic staff and an oasis to return to each day feels like. listen to your elders.

if EVER there was a worthy world cause. phnom penh, cambodia


  1. Maybe "Mr. Toilet Public" is a title, like "Mr. Universe" or "Miss Idaho Russet Potato."

  2. MO, this is a great travel log -- your descriptions capture the mood and emotion. Love it!