Arriving in Bali

I just left Cambodia and I have a cold. It was inevitable and I am surprised I didn’t get sick earlier. While in Cambodia I noticed tons of tourists hacking and sneezing around me. Statistically speaking I would have to have a super human immune response to avoid getting sick (plus it didn’t help to have the extra alcohol I had to celebrate my birthday).

I leave too early to get hotel breakfast but luckily I make it through security in time to get breakfast in the Priority Lounge (unlike my flight from Ho Chi Minh where I barely made it to my flight in time – giving you the stink eye Cambodia Angkor Air.) The breakfast is decent enough but I almost slice my finger with a plastic fork. Who does that?

My flight is uneventful except I have to eject someone from my seat (it happens way too often believe it or not).

For some reason I get two meals. Not sure exactly why but it might have something to do with how I pre-selected my foods as part of a package but it is way too early to eat this type of food and I am already full from the lounge. I nibble at one and end up throwing an entire meal anyway (I did offer it to my seat mates but no one wanted it)

I have a four hour or so layover in Kuala Lumpur. Because I have to go through security screening again they make me toss my unopened water bottle I bought when leaving Cambodia. I am water-less and my throat is sore and dry. I drink as much water as I can from the priority lounge here, which is super small and very limited in food choices. I “lost” my reusable water bottle when I arrived in South East Asia because I didn’t see the point. I can’t drink tap water so the bottle is just extra baggage to carry around and I need the packing space. Well now I regret that decision because there is nowhere to purchase bottled water due to flight regulations. The airport only has a water filter. I have nothing to fill up.

When I finally get on my fight I get one meal only and one small water. The meal is too spicy for my taste plus I can only get more water with an additional fee. I ration my supplies.

I finally arrive in Bali, Indonesia where I am to stay two nights by the airport while waiting for my silent retreat.

It is a long travel day and a number of things don’t seem to go my way when I arrive:

First I cannot find an ATM that works. It isn’t just me, tons of people are having issues at the ATMs, thus making the lines long. I know I put in a security alert for Indonesia so I am frustrated. I really want to take out some spending cash but I head to the hotel with the hopes there is something there.

Secondly I can find no signs for the hotel. The hotel is supposed to be in walking distance from the airport and it is dark and I can’t find any directional signs. I am sweaty, I can’t breathe and I am tired. I get constantly asked by taxis if they can take me somewhere. I know the hotel is close by just don’t know how to get there. Finally make it to the hotel after an out-of-the-way walk (apparently there is construction blocking the normal path).

Finally I find an Atm closer to the hotel that does work but my card is flagged for fraud (the first time in 4 months). I clear it all up, check in my room and pass out.

I wake in the morning with extremely dry mouth and sore throat. I hope I kick this soon. I have no yoga pants and for some reason could not find them anywhere I looked in Cambodia. I had planned to search for some today but my health is keeping me hotel bound. I will have to yoga and mediate in my regular travel clothes. I’ll look even more out of place than usual, no surprises there.

No phone, no talking, no internet for next few days so wish me luck.

More Phnom Penh

Still in the city of Phnom Penh in Cambodia.

I am in a semi-big city again. I figure it would be a good time to try my luck again at finding yoga pants for my upcoming yoga retreat. I wander around town by foot trying to use maps.me and using up my precious data for google maps to find a place to shop. I end up at a high end mall in the basement of a casino where I STILL CANNOT FIND YOGA PANTS. But the place is air conditioned and a nice place to use the bathroom. I give up on the yoga pants. Maybe some place in Bali should have some I can buy??

*Trigger Warning : Genocide

Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum

I won’t go into a history lesson but if you aren’t familiar with the Khmer Rouge and the 1970s please google it. It wasn’t widely discussed in my school. I am just familiar with it because as an adult I am a curious reader and read the book First They Killed My Father. From the book I was curious to learn more so I watched history programs and read things on the internet.

Basically during the late 1970’s the Communist Party of Kampuchea government under the direction of Pol Pot systematically killed close to 2 million people. Many were killed in what is called “The killing fields” (there is a famous movie by the same name which I also saw a long time ago). As a visitor you can visit the killing fields and I heard it is very emotional. I chose not to visit because I did not feel comfortable going there. I did however visit the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, the former jail where many prisoners were held, questioned and tortured.

I took audio tour with very detailed stories. It was sad and very painful to listen to.

The final rooms of the tour contain pictures of those detained and tortured in the facility (I took no photos of these).

Very small cells

I think the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum is an important visit in Phnom Penh not to glamorize the location but for us as humans to understand what horrors can happen if tyrannical governments are left unchecked. The 1970’s were not too long ago in the grand scheme of time.

Cambodia River Cruise

To lighten up the end of my trip I booked a sunset river cruise along the area where the Mekong meets the Tonle Sap River.

It is a nice a peaceful way to end my trip to Cambodia. There is of course so much I didn’t see so I hope some day to return.

Phnom Penh

Aspara dance

To get to Phnom Penh I take a small plane of the same airline I took into Cambodia. It is a short flight and the experience isn’t quite as bad as when set out to arrive in the country.

Phnom Penh is the capital of Cambodia. The capital feels more contemporary and does not have all the ancient temples like Siem Reap. Also famous is that it was the capital of the Khmer Rouge in the 1970’s, the group responsible for horrific genocide. My stop in Phnom Penh is short and I just get a slight feel for the city.

I book a decent but affordable hotel near the Royal Palace (which I end up not visiting). Lately I make sure I book a place with a pool since it is a requirement anymore for traveling during these hot times.

Villa Grange

I decide against visiting the Royal Palace right away because of the heat and it proves to be a bad decision because it seems to be my only opportunity because of two reasons: missing the limited opening hours on my other free day and the unfortunate death of a Cambodian princess which had many things shut down – including alcohol service at restaurants (I awkwardly found out when trying to get a cocktail at a restaurant and they refused to serve me alcohol. I am a little confused until somebody explained it to me on the table nearby).

The princess Norodom Bopha Devi is famous for helping revive traditional Apsara dance (unique style dance with intricate hand movements) after it is almost destroyed during the horrific time of Khmer Rouge.

I fortunately booked an evening to see Apsara dance at Cambodian Living Arts.

Churning of the ocean of milk
Apsara dance

Here are some short clips of that dance performance:

Siem Reap lonely birthday

Today is my birthday and I am still in Siem Reap Cambodia. I am alone and inexplicably sad. I mostly don’t mind my alone time but today I am down in the dumps. To cheer myself up I try some some back home normalcy. I google a nearby cafe that has brunch dishes. Brunch sounds like a great way to treat myself. I order french toast at Sister Srey Cafe.

After a “taste of home” style brunch I head back to my hotel room because 1. It is another hot day and 2. Still don’t have motivation to do anything. I guess it is normal after all this traveling to take days off but it always comes with guilt – what am I missing out on seeing by taking this day off.

Back in my room I check social media for glimpses of back home and watch some movies on netflix.

I get a call from the hotel staff making sure I am ok since I did not come down to breakfast. I find it odd but charming that they are looking out for me. I tell them I am ok but had breakfast elsewhere this morning. A few minutes later there is a knock at my door.

It is the hotel staff with a plate of birthday fruit and balloons. They planned to surprise me with this at breakfast but I wasn’t there. It is the sweetest thing ever and not at all expected. I spend my time watching movies and now chowing down on yummy fruit.

I go to the pool again for a little bit but then decide I must go out for a drink or two on my birthday, even if I am doing it alone.

I head down to pub street again and find a cute little cocktail bar Miss Wong Cocktail Bar. I order a cocktail and dim sum then wander around some more.

I head back toward my hotel when some horrible karaoke singing catches my ear. I could use another drink so I sit down at the bar with some extremely drunk american expats and tourists. I learn all about the art of living in Cambodia as an American (visa runs and all). One guy is getting too uncomfortably friendly for my taste so I head out after a drink or two, besides I head to Phnom Penh in the morning. Not too terrible a day though considering I started out in a sour mood….

Drunk karoake. No I did not participate.

Siem Reap Dinner

Banana Pancake

After my long day of sightseeing I catch dinner around the corner at The Christa Restaurant & Bar where I get to try Cambodian style curry. It is quite good.

Khmer Curry with chicken.

I call it an early night.

Next Day

I could do another day of sightseeing today but I instead choose to stay close to my hotel.

I start the day at the breakfast buffet at the hotel. They missed me yesterday since I woke up so early to catch the sunrise at Angkor Wat.

I am exhausted from the heat and traveling so I book a massage through my hotel and because it is Cambodia it is very affordable. The female masseuse comes to my room. We don’t speak each other’s language which doesn’t matter too much except I want to make sure she doesn’t do any back/hand/whatever cracking like what happened in Thailand. I try to communicate this in mime and not sure she understands but fortunately my massage had no cracking and was just what I needed.

Afterwards I decide to take advantage of the pool. It is small but only enhabited by two others who don’t stay long. The laps I do are refreshing but once I get my fill I decide I need to go try to find yoga pants for my yoga retreat I have scheduled in about a week. Unfortunately I am a terrible shopper in my home country and even worse in a foreign country. I cannot find yoga pants. It is hot so I give up.

I spend the evening exploring pub street instead.

I settle on a restaurant with balcony seating where I get to try Fish Amok at Traditional Khmer Food Restaurant. The balcony over looks a narrow alley with stores and other restaurants. Not a ton of foot traffic but it keeps me sort of entertained while I eat.

Fish Amok (fish with traditional Cambodian curry made lemongrass, chilli, coconut milk and amok “ngor” leaves, served in banana leaf)
Shrimp appetizer

Tomorrow is my birthday and I have nothing planned. I decide I need to go back to my room and make some sort of plans for tomorrow.

pub street area