Travel Daze

Trip Start Jan 03, 2012
Trip End May 02, 2013

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Where I stayed
Nice Guesthouse

Flag of Cambodia  ,
Tuesday, February 7, 2012

What does traveling in Southeast Asia feel like?  Triple check the guesthouse to make sure we haven't left anything behind, knowing we'll never see it again if we have.  Check out and wait for the pre-arranged pick-up.  A few anxious moments as the clock ticks past the scheduled time.  Check the essentials (passport, cash and cards) one more time and the transporter arrives with a smile.  He drops us off and directs us to change to the next vehicle.  As our tickets get checked and backpacks disappear from sight, we attempt to break the language barrier to confirm the destination.  One last visit to the WC?  More anxious moments as the baggage doors remain open.  We try to keep an eye on them but distractions abound.

Then the ride begins, giving us a chance to feel out the driver.  Even with the same company on the same route, some are agonizingly slow and some are fear-for-your-life fast.  Some are happy to coast behind a motorbike while others will take on a gas tanker truck at high speed with the narrowest of escapes.  In all situations, the horn is the key communication device.  Unlike home where it's used primarily to express displeasure, here it says 'I'm here and I'm bigger and faster than you so move over or face the consequences'.  They use it a lot and most are happy to oblige by moving over.  It may be hard to imagine sleeping in these circumstances but we alternate naps to keep two eyes on our small bags with the essentials inside.

More anxious moments as the baggage doors are opened at random roadside stops.  We wouldn't think twice back home but with all we've read about theft, we remain on high alert.  Sometimes bags are stored on the roof, exposed to the elements, so we have a strict 'rain covers on' policy for travel days.

Suddenly, a motorbike driver with no mirrors and no shoulder check turns back onto the road, the bus brake pedal goes down hard and a young couple come within a few feet of losing their lives.

Arriving at a new and unfamiliar destination a little early or a lot late leads to a search for any sign or landmark to help orient us and avoid being led astray, usually meaning paying for additional unnecessary transport.

All that covers only road travel.  Everything changes on a boat where our bags and bodies may be splashed with salt or sewer water, a nice segue to our boat ride down the Mekong River into Vietnam.  We also have a 4-leg, 4-airline flight from Thailand to New Zealand booked for April so we can only hope our checked bag arrives with us.
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Jinnie on

So true. The not so glamourous side of travelling abroad.

meg on

so great to be following your travels and getting some great tips!

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