This second part of the trip was a journey of dual purposes. For one, the most obvious, is to experience new places. The other, is a personal journey- pushing boundaries and pushing myself to move past my comfort zone and try new things, on my own.
Most of my travels up to this point have been with a friend or friends. I've always had someone 'holding my hand' showing me what to do and guiding me along the way. It's time that I grow up- become the strong individual I know I am deep down inside and start doing things completely on my own... Of course, this was a baby step because I hired a tour group to take me through the Mekong Delta and Cambodia- BUT I did this on my own and was forced out of my comfort zone, into new challenges without the help of friends or family.
It was life changing and I proved to myself that I can not only do these things on my own, but I LOVED every minute of it and cannot wait to continue these solo journeys in the future.
Anyway- here it goes- again, pieced by quick little journal entries : )
(February 7th, 2011)
I took the 11:30pm bus from Phan Thiet back to Sai Gon with Tam's sister, brother in law and niece. It was so incredibly packed on the bus I was nervous that I would have to sit in a super awkward position for the entire 4 and a half hour trip- however, being the enormous foreigner, I was offered the front seat by the driver... my own little private cubby to enjoy the trip. It was VIP for sure : )
The bus was running late, and there was a point where we needed to turn around and go back to a stop to pick someone up. I kept thinking for sure that I would get back to town too late and miss my bus to the Mekong.
I woke up and didn't recognize any of my surroundings, I looked at my watch and it was already 5:30am and I felt for sure that we still had an hour or two left in the ride back to Sai Gon- arg, frustration set in. When suddenly, we took a right turn and were right in front of my alley way! Phwef.... made it home in time to shower, pack and take a breather between trips.
Took the bus to the Mekong Delta- took about 3 hours and I slept solid the entire trip.
Once there we road on three different kinds of boats and a motorcar!
Saw how coconut candy was made and held bees : )
(February 8th, 2011)
- floating markets- such a cool idea, the people live and work on the boats. They drive their boats up to other boats and sell their goods. Simple, simple, simple- perfect. There are even coffee shops and food/restaurants on these boats!
Also- went to a food orchard- so cool, I haven't seen such healthy looking fruit in VN. Ever. Switched groups for the second night- road three and a half hours to the last town before crossing over into Cambodia by boat.
(February 9th, 2011)
Early morning visit to a floating village/Cham minority village.
After this visit we were finally on our way to Phnom Penh. Listening to Band of Horses- made me feel so much all at once it hurt.
To visit a place you've never been before is one of the most beautiful experiences in life. Whether you love the place or hate it- the first sights, sounds and smells are extraordinary.
Solo traveling is fantastic. This is the beginning of a new and independent way of life for me.
Heading out into Phnom Penh alone is a huge adventure for me. Sure I do things alone all of the time in VN, but I know that country so well- I know how to communicate and I know what to expect. I have never headed out completely solo before- I've always been with Jake, friends, tour groups or fellow volunteers. Those of you who know me best know I have a bit of a social handicap. I love people, I'm usually great around them but taking initiative with them and with things that I'm intimidated by has always been a challenge.
That's what makes this trip through the Mekong and Cambodia so beautiful for me. Yes, for the most part a tour guide is practically holding my hand BUT this is still a huge step for me :)
And I'm afraid it's starting something that will never be finished... SOLO travel. Sure I can't wait to travel with friends and loved ones but I think at the very least, one time a year a trip of some sort should be made by myself. I love being able to do what I want, when I want. TO be lame if I want be, or go out and meet people if I feel social.
I'm so stoked that I already have another solo trip booked for the end of march. It's my birthday on the 1st of a march and a gift to myself is a 3 day weekend relaxin in Hoi An. Sure I've been there before but it's one of the most beautiful towns in Vietnam. It's the perfect place to rent a bicycle and spend the day riding through rice patties and taking in the beautiful architecture.
And now my head is swimming with future trips! I'm thankful that I've been fortunate enough to have seen what I've seen already- I'm not even 30 and I've visited eight countries so far, and transited through countless others... does a 9 hour layover in Doha, Qatar count? 4 hours in Amsterdam? 4 hours in Hong Kong? 9 hours in Guangzhou China? Sure these are all layovers, but I've been there : )
Well, my tuk tuk driver is falling asleep waiting for me to finish my beer so, away I go...
(February 10th, 2011)
- Solo tour by tuk tuk to the killing fields and shooting range... I shot a M16!
Also held a bazooka...
Heading to meet up with a new group to begin the Angkor/Siem Riep portion of the trip.
4 star hotel tonight!!!
Went to the silver pagoda and royal palace- amazing - the entire floor is made of silver.
Went to a casino? Really? Ha... lost 5 bucks.
(February 11th, 2011)
- great brekky (of course... it is a 4 star hotel)
- six hours from Phnom Penh to Siem Riep... stopped half way through the trip and ate a tarantula
Went to traditional Aspara dance over dinner... truly amazing and beautiful.
(February 12th, 2011)
Temples. All Day. Pictures explain everything.
There are more pics... but I'm having issues getting them uploaded to Flickr, will hopefully do it soon!