Last April, one of my college friends Mitch Alvarez tagged me in a Facebook post by Ms Nikka Sarthou-Lainez who is looking for contributors who are interested in sharing travel tips for international and domestic destinations of Cebu Pacific Air. Ms. Nikka is a Contributing Editor for Smile Magazine, the in-flight magazine of CebuPac.
I was looking for travel inspirations across the internet when I stumbled upon a quotation by Ernest Hemingway. He said “Never go on trips with anyone you do not love”. But what if, you get a chance to travel with people you do not know? Will you grab the chance? It was a particularly hard question to answer. I always get the notion that traveling with strangers is such a bad idea. What are you going to talk about? What if you don’t have the same wavelength? There are just too many questions that need answers, but you will never know the answers until you try.
Hometown hotel is located several blocks away from the famous Preah Sisowath Quay. Its neighborhood is composed of private houses, restaurants, bars and a mini mart.
Just like in Siem Reap, the most popular mode of transportation in Phnom Penh are the tuktuks and motorcycles. It is very easy to roam around Phnom Penh because there are many tuktuks plying in the area. Bicycles are also popular which I think can also be rented by tourists.
If you are going on a tour, there are mini buses for tours going to S21 and the Killing Fields. On our way to the Mekong Express terminal, a small bus also fetched us from the hotel.
Here’s my short review of Bou Savy Guesthouse.
Bou Savy is located in a small alley just along Airport Road. It is near several establishments like a mini mart, gasoline station, laundry house and restaurants. The Night Market is also few minutes away. You can enjoy Siem Reap’s vibe while walking to the Night Market and Pub Street.
I think almost everything you will need at Siem Reap is within walking distance. It is very convenient to walk and enjoy the beautiful structures along Airport Road. What I liked most about the location of Bou Savy is that it is not really along the road so you can get peaceful sleep when the traffic at the road gets terrible during the Khmer New Year or just to be away from the noise of the vehicles on the street.
Midday of April 17th, after a heartbreaking trip to the Killing Fields and S-21, it’s about time to leave the humble city of Phnom Penh. At 11:30 we made our way to look for a place to eat. We decided to eat just near Hometown Hotel because time is of the essence. With 30 minutes cooking time, Cambodians I think didn’t get that memo.
We were joined by the others -Tikoy, Edge, Golden, Dan, Ms. Lyn, Vhik, and Froi. I ordered my comfort food–spaghetti and garlic bread. When the waiter started serving the food, he handed “my garlic bread” to Froilan. I didn’t even know it was mine (False Alarm #1) because the waiter didn’t say so and it was a small-sized french bread. I thought it would be just like the usual garlic breads here in the Philippines. We all thought it was free so they munched it, it was far from me to get some so I just passed. And Froi was having fun eating it so I didn’t bother taking some. Vhik and Froi were really enjoying the “i-didn’t-know-garlic-bread-of-mine”. Until Shiela asked “Umorder ka diba ng garlic bread?”. Froi laughed, I think he realized that he was eating my garlic bread. Hahaha. I myself was clueless that it was mine so I just said it was fine. At least I got to taste some. And whew I thank Vhik and Froi for eating half of it, the moment I tasted it, I asked “ano to tinapay na garlic flavor o bawang na tinapay flavor?”. Chunks of garlic were literally inside the bread. Haha. Anyway, my pasta was exceptional, as always.
I had a good night sleep in Hometown Hotel despite the reviews I saw on tripadvisor (Note from Shiela: I barely slept, just so you know. Thanks to that post you shared. 😦 ). It was a particularly easy day for me – talking about the things I needed to do before going out. I wore my tank top and after a while, we went out. 7:00 was the call time, the sun was up and I was starving. Few moments and we’re off. We were fetched by our shuttle service to the restaurant. Half an hour passed and we were nowhere near the restaurant. Edge needed to call the hotel staff to tell the driver the directions to the restaurant.
I was particularly preparing myself to see a fine dining restaurant. No joke, I was thinking, “why are we driving for almost half an hour if we weren’t going to a fine dining restaurant?” But as they say; “Don’t judge a book by it’s cover.”. True that! We were all waiting for our orders, and when they started serving our food, I was rather impressed. The food was good. The espresso was the best I had ever. And everyone seemed to like their food. We were all done except for Kat. Hahaha. (Nasa France pa daw yung French toast niya). When we were all done, including Kat, we went to the shuttle to start the journey to the Choeung Ek Genocidal Center.
I was staring outside, people were panicking and really worried about the bus driver. It was like being in a video game minus the console and joysticks. We were swaying left and right. The bus was driving in an incomparable pace. I felt I have ridden Battlestar:Galactica in Universal Studios. The road was rough, red sands made the air blurry. It was hot.
We started our journey from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh at 7:30 in the morning. The bus driver fetched the others but there was quite a problem; some of the seats that were given to our group are non-existent (unless they rather let us sit on the toilet). The journey began at 9:00. They say “A traveler without observation is a bird without wings.”, when I opened my curtain, it was hot, but instead of just sleeping, I had a few realizations; 1) I am blessed, 2) God is great, 3) Other countries are really not that far, 4) Southeast Asia is hot, 5) the bus driver sucks, but most of all 6) Traveling is all about being alive.
The road was like the lives of many Cambodians–rough. Everything turns blurry when a car passes. Heat is undeniably unbearable. But you have got to commend the Cambodians for loving their country, and for staying true to themselves. I always admire a country not because it is rich or whatever but because it has an identity–something that we do not have. Admit it or not, having an identity is the last thing in our minds. We always settle for something westernized, patronize imported things and, comparing our government or anything to a much better country. That was what I admire most in Cambodia–identity and most of all, nationalism.