Toward the end of our visit in Cambodia, Andrew and I spent three days in Phnom Penh, Cambodia's bustling, dusty capital, to learn about the Cambodian genocide and visit the country's more famous memorial sites.
For our final day in Kep, Andrew and I decided to rent a driver for the day to check out a local pepper farm, as well as the beach, a cave, and various sites through the local villages. This wise decision afforded us a full day with no crowds, gorgeous weather, low prices, and the elusive "authentic" feeling of being in a place that feels shaped more by the Cambodians that live there than the foreigners who pass through. The day was perhaps our most enjoyable in all of Cambodia as we got to sit back, relax, and enjoy rural Cambodia in the cushioned back of our own chariot.
The southeast Cambodian town of Kep was our next destination after Angkor. A small, seaside town about 30 km from Vietnam, it was known as the holiday playground of the Cambodian elite. The area is known for two things: Kampot peppercorns (in a future post) and pepper crab. We had heard that it would be a beautiful and relaxing alternative to the party-outpost beach town of Sihanoukville. After a 5 hour bus ride from the dusty capital of Phnom Penh, we arrived for our 3 day "vacation within a vacation" at a French-run bungalow guest house. Turns out, we couldn't have made a better decision!
After our ten days in Nepal, we were ready to head back to Southeast Asia. Our first stop? Visiting the ancient city of Angkor. Stepping off the plane and back into Southeast Asia after two months in India and Nepal felt in many ways like a return to comfort and happiness: It's not cold anymore! Hey the tuk tuks look like chariots! The streets have closed sewage systems! No power cuts! No cow poo! They sell FRUIT SHAKES HERE!!!
Kelsi and I set out from Boston six months ago and this seems like an opportune time to reflect on the trip thus far. Although on the blog we’re still posting stories from India, I write this from a café/bar on an island in Vietnam. Vietnam is our last stop in Asia and we soon be flying back over the Pacific. We have lot more stories to share from India and the rest of Asia, so expect more of those to come after this post, but for now I take a moment to look back.
One of the most difficult things, if not the most difficult thing, we've seen while traveling is children begging on the side of the road or hawking souvenirs at tourist sites, which is very common in Asia (outside China and Japan). Each time we are approached by a child it is a painful experience. Painful because the kid is cute and probably does need help, but we have a strict rule that we will only offer them is a smile and a polite "no thank you."