Water Festival in Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Cambodia: Good bye smiling people of Cambodia

My last days in Phnom Penh started well. During waiting on my Vietnamese visa I was still enjoying my friends and the city. I took another Taekwon-do training and helped Chivorn with his group of students during one Sunday afternoon. In the evening we took a Khmer dinner with the guys and discussed when to meet next time. Seems that it will be just next year on World Championship in Liverpool, UK were I promised to come. The day after I met Matthiew, a guy from US. Two minutes talk and we agreed to drive the motorbike in Vietnam together (which at the end did not work but nevermind). The route is not yet prepared but this is not a big thing.

One evening we took with Matthiew a dinner in a restaurant 3 km far from our hostel, discussed with the owner about life in Cambodia and it was pretty good talk. The owner then asked us how we go back to hostel and we replied we walk. We paid, said good bye and left the restaurant. Within a minute the owner approached us with his car, offering a drive to the hostel because as said, he was going the same direction. Before we got out of the car, the owner asked me for a contact. Why not, good guy, interesting stories. Just a second before I closed the door of his car the final question from his side came. “Do you like gays?” At this time I was already in my mind far away from that car and the only thing I have heard was “Do you like…”. So my answer “Yes, sure.” does not sound so odd, right? So probably not a suprise that 15 minutes later I found 5 missed calls on my phone. So lessons learned, listen carefully till the end what the other side is saying.

For next 3 days I was pretty sick. Not sure what I ate but got a fever, chills and once I even fainted when coming back from the bathroom. It might have been from the food or maybe some ice in the water. I was curious how the next journey will look like but luckily I got better before leaving Cambodia.

From Phnom Penh to Ho Chi Minh city in Vietnam it takes about 6 hours by bus and costs 10 USD (8,40 EUR). I was picked up from the hostel and the journey started. Despite lots of information on the internet about troubles and delays on Cambodian-Vietnamese borders, the crossing was really smooth. I got my exit confirmation on Cambodian side and got a stamp according to my Vietnamese e-visa on the other one. All the bagpacks need to be scanned on the borders but that took just a minute. Once we did all the paperwork the bus continued towards HCMC, 57 km ahead, 2 hours of drive, incredible duration.

So is it worth visiting Cambodia? Definitely. I really enjoyed Phnom Penh, mainly during Water Festival, Siem Reap and its temples are fabulous, south part of the country with its beaches great for relaxing or outdoor sports, and local food despite the sickness. What is also worth visiting is Kep and Kampot where I did not go this time but have heard many positive stories from all travellers. What surprised me the most are all the smiles around you. Cambodian people are the most smiling nation I have ever met so far.

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