Answer: a Cambodian bus
Here’s a crazy story before we catch you up with what has been going on the past week. So we are riding on a bus from Siem Reap to Kratie, Cambodia. We were lulled to sleep by the gentle rocking of the bus until we heard a loud thud and felt a slight bump.
The bus screeched to a halt and worried faces looked to the back window of the bus. Fortunately we had only run over a calf (and not a person). You see, here in Cambodia, people walk and ride their bikes along the highways and cows roam free. So the bus driver backed up to the dead calf and many people got out of the bus. There were discussions between the driver and some of the passengers. The next thing we know, they are opening a luggage compartment under the bus and proceeded to wrestle the dead calf into the bus. This compartment was separated from the compartment with our backpacks so we were relieved, thinking our backpacks were safe from any blood and guts. We inspected the damage on the bus and they lost part of the bumper and an air filter.
When we arrived in Kratie, the bus driver threw out our backpacks before we even got off the bus. By the time we got to our bags, the bus sped off and we discovered that our backpacks reeked of fish. In the compartment under the bus, a box of salted fish must have leaked and covered our bags in fish juice. We tried to complain to the bus company but they said it was the driver’s responsibility, hence the reason he sped off so quickly after dumping our bags. We had this happen to us before in Peace Corps so it wasn’t new to us.
We basically dragged our backpacks to the guesthouse since we didn’t want to put the smelly bags on our backs. At the guesthouse, we quickly emptied them and luckily our clothes did not smell like fish guts. Our backpacks were a different story. We bought some detergent and a scrub brush and worked on the bags for hours, until 1:00 am. In the morning, we put the bags on the roof of the guesthouse so that the sun would hopefully sanitize and irradiate our bags. As far as we can tell, we were successful, only a little bit of fish smell left. Oh well, the joys of travel… you basically take everything as it comes and make the best of it.
As for the trip so far, we have seen some amazing places. Hopefully you have seen our latest picture upload that showed some of our travel from Vietnam through Cambodia, to Angkor Wat. Angkor Wat was spectacular!! It is amazing how ornate the carvings are and they are about 1000 years old. Just being in a place like this makes you truly appreciate human history. Exploring the temples made us feel like Indiana Jones and Lara Croft. Since this is dry season in southeast Asia, the tourist crowds were very small, so in many temples, we were the only ones around. But because this is dry season here, it is very hot! We say that we will be ready for the Texas summer when we get back there at the end of May.
The bus travel between cities has been good, except for the fish bags. The guesthouses we stay in have been very good, some with fans-only and some with air-con. We have paid between $5 to $15 a night so it is very cheap to travel here. They have resorts and fancy hotels so you could pay a lot but we think hotels are for sleeping so why would you pay a lot for a place where the majority of the time spent in the room will be with your eyes closed. Most of our meals have been in the $1 to $4 per person range. In Siem Reap (Angkor Wat) we got our first massages, and they were $5 for an hour long massage by a blind massage therapist. Many people in the cities here know English so it makes travel easier. Now that we are in eastern Cambodia, in the more rural areas, we are finding very little English speakers. It will probably be like this in southern Laos as well.
We are headed for Laos tomorrow morning on a mini-bus. We are avoiding big buses for now after our last experience. Hopefully we can find faster internet service and better computers, because it has been difficult to update our blog with photos and videos. We hope to update our google map soon, since it is only current up to Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Everything has been wonderful so far and we wish you all well!