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.
At 6:00 in the morning, we went downstairs to have breakfast. I honestly thought we will be the first ones but I didn’t know what kind of people are the others because they woke up so early. We ordered breakfast from the hotel restaurant. Kat seemed to have a rift with breakfast. Ang malas malas nya. She ordered bread with jam and butter while Shiela ordered bread with egg and butter then I had bread with egg and cheese. I had an entire entree when the waiter served my food, Shiela’s wasn’t bad at all. But when Kat got her breakfast, she had what she asked for: jam and butter. Yun naman pala by default lahat ay may jam and butter. Hahaha. Naawa nalang si Kat sa sarili niya.
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.
Right smack in the middle of Siem Reap Province is the powerful symbol of Cambodia–the Angkor Wat. The name Angkor Wat literally means City of Temples. Angkor Wat also remains, to this day, the largest religious monument in the world.
Just as when everyone is thinking about Angkor Wat when they hear Cambodia, Cambodia is beyond Angkor Wat. True enough, I have proven it the last day. After going on cloud 9 because of Happy Pizza, the fun didn’t stop there. We were up at around 4:00am to get ready to witness the most magnificent sunrise in the world. We were waiting downstairs for some of our friends. Edge came down all with his matchy-matchy outfit. I thought “nakapantulog pa ata si Edge”. After a while he went back upstairs and changed top. Hehe. (Napansin mo yun Edge no?)
“May ten minutes pa sya”, Kat said. I felt sick the moment I woke up. The room was clean, I saw my clothes still hanging beside the window. It was 3AM, “Shet nakakalat pa mga damit ko”. I jumped out of my bed and fixed my stuff. I immediately took a bath after fixing everything. We went to the nearest 7-11 and bought water and lunch. At 3:45, people are starting to go down the lobby. We met the others and exchanged names, had a little chat and waited for the van. At 4:30 in the morning, our van left Rambuttri House, it is goodbye then, the short three days in Thailand was one of the craziest I had.