Remember that one time I raved about my time in Cambodia and vowed it was my favorite country, a place that left a special mark on my heart, especially the people? I guess it's pretty obvious that I met great people and solidified friendships when I could go back and visit them a year later, being welcomed with open arms. Aside from Dara and his family in Siem Reap/Kampong Cham, and Sa Ry in Kampot I had one more stop to make, this time a revisit to Battambang and my friend Moth.
Being in the wrong place at the wrong time, bad luck or bad karma, I'm not sure what to blame it on but these last few weeks in Cambodia have been a test of my endurance, both physically and mentally. Starting with my broken computer a few weeks ago, my injuries in Kampong Cham and now a little bit of thievery while settling into my new home in Kampot. The fact that I'm blogging about these events from my private [yoga studio attached] bedroom, after finishing [a home made] dinner just goes to show that things must not be that bad. Current situation aside however these last few weeks just go to show that travel isn't always full of rainbows and butterflies [or rather sunsets and cocktails].
After visiting and falling in love with this country a year ago I couldn't wait to share it with people close to me. My brother and his girlfriend Katie were willing to endure the 14+ hour plane journey to come to see me (okay, Angkor Watt and the country itself may have had something to do with their visit). The only downside to their visit was that they only had a week to spare (stupid American jobs and vacation rules) but I was determined to help them make the most of it. As much as I wanted to take them to Kampot, the city where I'd be teaching yoga, or visiting my friend Dara's hometown in Kampong Cham, I knew they'd really only be able to fit in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap. As I was eager for their visit I spent some time brainstorming what we must do, see, and most importantly eat, I wanted them to leave with a good impression of the country, as I had a year before.
After my adventures in and around Siem Reap I only had a few more days left on my visa to explore Cambodia. I had been planning to enter Thailand via the Aranyprathet/Poipet border, so a stop in Battambang seemed natural. Aside from my original plan I encountered many travelers along the way who had nothing but good things to say about the city, so I made sure not to miss it. Upon my arrival, I found the city to be quaint but without the charm of Kampot. I made a last minute booking at Chhaya hotel, mostly just because they would pick me up from the bus station. My tuk-tuk driver started immediately with his sales as he whipped out his book of tours he operates, but I must say he did so with some tact, I was not in the least bit annoyed. I wasn't going to join any but when he mentioned he was taking a Swiss man to the bat cave that night I decided to join.
Only recently has this country shown up on the SE Asia tourist route. With a dark, harrowing past it's amazing to see the smiles spread across the locals faces. I've met travelers with mixed impressions, but if you're lucky enough to connect with a few locals I'm confident you'll fall in love.