These are notes that I took while I was on a trip to Cambodia in August 2017
Lots of trees
Lots of wooden furniture
Day 1: Arrive in Phnom Penh. Culture shock. Driving is crazy. Walking around the vehicles is crazy. Stay at the guest house. There is no barrier between the showers and the rest of the bathroom. There is no toilet paper. We tried to find some toilet paper at the central market in Phnom Penh. It was a challenge. Finally found some along with paper towels, but we bought the paper towels by accident. Ate at some relative's (to sopboy) restaurant. Avoided the ice, except for Dana. We are stinky. Went to the Aeon Mall. It has five floors and "ice park". Took bets on what it actually was, but it's an ice rink. Ate at some super expensive restaurant in the mall. We were all confused because they made the kids sit in a separate table and we didn't know how to order in Cambodian. Xiaoming felt sick. Had some bubble tea. There was a cool arcade.
Day 2: Packed and left the guest house. Had our first noodle soup breakfast. With that fried bread thing. Also super delicious iced coffee. My mom wanted to buy some coffee. Like a bunch of kilos. Drove for five hours to our other relative's (Channy) house. Got coconuts along the way. My mom loves coconut. Also experienced a squatty potty for the first time at a gas station. Basically a hole in the ground. It wasn't that bad actually. Didn't smell at all. Mosquitos. Chickens. Dogs. The adults debated between going to Thailand or China. And then how many days and nights we would stay there. And if we were going to do a group tour or not. Walked around the neighborhood. Looked at various trees. A real live jackfruit. An ant crawled on to me and bit me even though I was wearing skinny jeans and sneakers. There were some fish and the kids and yee-ee threw some food at them. My mom was like "Fall, fall!" to Dana. Stayed at the Prassat hotel. It was kinda nice but the room Mommy, Ma, and I were in had a bathtub instead of a shower. Also cockroaches but not too many. Ma couldn't fall asleep so I was awakened at like 3am and couldn't really fall back asleep.
Day 3: Packed and left Prassat. Ate at a restaurant right next to the hotel. Had some fried rice that was decent. Went to a school to donate books and other little school supplies. And 2000 riel to each kid. It was really cute. We looked around and saw what the classroom was like. We asked them for their names. We played a game with them even though the kids really had no idea what they were doing. We made them a little late for lunch. We took a big picture and some of the kids said some thankful words and yee-ee said some words too. Gou Ra took us to the river. We hiked but wore flip flops. Even gong did it. At the end there was a little waterfall. We dipped our toes in the water. The driver went for a swim. The fish nibbled at our feet. The kids went over to a rock in the river and stood on it. My flip flops got ruined on the bottom. We ate in a hut thing on a mat. Drove some more and found ourselves in some dusty town. Went to the president hotel, and it was like 9pm, but we still needed to eat dinner, so we went to a restaurant feeling super tired and sweaty. At the hotel, I switched with Ching and slept in the kids room. Cambodia's got talent was on tv. And american ninja warrior. The bathroom had a shower with like a half barrier. The spray on the shower was kinda screwy.
Day 4: Packed and left the president hotel. Had noodle soup for breakfast. They were pretty tasty wide noodles, but the portions were kinda small. Left for Thailand. Our aunt and uncle Huy came with us. The border was kind of crazy. In Thailand they drive on the left side of the road. It is also much more developed than Cambodia. First we had a driver drive us to Bangkok. We stayed at DD House. It was not very nice. I had to room with Mommy, Yee E, and Fred. They were all single beds and at this point, the beds in each hotel were getting harder and harder. Ate at a nearby restaurant. We ordered a lot of different things. We met Bunly, Gou Ra's nephew. He was our interpreter. He is getting his masters. Also hired another driver. The can rides were kind of packed. Walked around after dinner. The hotel is right in the center of the night market which was nice. The kids got ice cream bars in cute shapes. We dropped off Ma and Gong at the hotel and walked around some more. We found super cheap elephant bag things for 10 baht each. These are the same bags that we saw in Florida, but waaay cheaper in this market. I got one for myself. The kids got a bajillion of them. Ching and Dana got button down shirts for their SOs. They took a while looking through them. We didn't really have enough time to walk around as much as we wanted to. The bathroom in the hotel was really tiny. There were also a lot of cockroaches.
Day 5: Packed and left DD House for Pattaya. Had noodle soup for breakfast. Bunly ordered some type of Pho that came out pink. The place didn't have good iced coffee so we walked around looking for better iced coffee. Went to some modern looking coffee place, but the coffee was just kind of bland, like in America. It had super fancy restrooms though. We did a lot of sight seeing. We went to King Rama II's house which was a really cool museum like place. But also really pretty natural things. Saw more fish. Had to take off shoes a bunch of times. Went to a big gold painted buddha thing on a mountain. Took some selfies in front of it. Went to a vineyard. Tasted some grape juice. Went to a temple. Had to change into long pants. Saw this really large reclining buddha statue. Got a free water. Stayed at a guest house thing which had a lot of bedrooms. It was very colorful. It smelled very colorful too. Wifi was really good. Went to a night market which was really cool. Little kids dancing inappropriately. Had a mango pineapple smoothie. Also had some fried chicken and pad thai and fried shrimp. The guy dropped a shrimp and picked it back up while cooking. And some meat on a stick. After the night market we dropped off Ma and Gong and went to Walking Street. I was not prepared for the loudness and brightness and skimpily dressed women. Would not go back to walking street again.
Day 6: Woke up with a serious urge to poop. I think it was the smoothie. Packed and left the guest house. Drove to the beach area. We had to get on a boat to Koh Larn.
The trip was a total of 3 weeks, so this didn't even cover a third of it. Other memorable things that I typed up just now:
Day 6 (or 7?) we went hiking at a place with temples I think? I was feeling sick that whole day. Sore throat, naseous. I know it was the smoothie. I avoided fruit and ice for the rest of the trip.
We stayed at 8 different hotels the first 8 nights. Most were not great. Nights 9-12 were spent at a really nice hotel in Siem Reap. It had a breakfast buffet with porridge and salty dried fish, salted hard boiled egg, and Chinese sausage. And they had made-to-order soft boiled eggs, where you could specify exactly how many minutes you wanted the eggs to cook. It was like childhood and it was delicious.
Apart from the few days I had porridge, breakfast was always noodle soup. It felt like we ate the same types of dishes for almost every meal. Honestly, I got sick of it really fast. For me, the food highlights were getting Pizza Hut, getting KFC, and getting instant noodles from a convenience store. I like to think I travel to try the food, but I always, always am so much happier to eat food at home again.
So many temples. So many Buddha statues. My grandma stopped to pray at what seemed like every single Buddha statue and temple. We visited a temple that my grandparents donated a lot of money to, so much money that their names are on the wall somewhere.
We went back to the arcade at my request. I played Pump it Up for the first time in my life, and I only played two rounds, but it was so much fun. I remember playing Winter and Beethoven Virus. A little girl that looked like she was five years old went up to the machine to play after me and I was shocked at how good she was. Playing with the bar and letting go to do full spins.
My favorite part of the trip was the evening we spent at Battambang, at the local park. This was the first time I'd ever seen exercise equipment at a park. The community was bustling. There was a large group of people doing line dances, and I joined in even though I had never seen any of these line dances before. I fumbled around trying to learn the movements just by watching, and I don't think I did a very good job, but I had such a fun time.