So let me start at the beginning…
I got to the airport after a very tearful goodbye with my boyfriend (who I will be reunited with in 8 weeks!), and as soon as I passed though the airport doors all the stress and worry from the months leading up to that moment just faded away. It all felt right. My travel buddy and I boarded the plane. Then we waited…and waited. We sat on the tarmac for two hours while the plane was de-iced and then finally took off. We had to run to catch our connecting flight in Hong Kong, and boarded just in time. We arrived in Phnom Penh after about 22+ hours of traveling, exhausted and a little delirious. After watching the bags from our plane move in circles on the conveyor belt I started to realize that I had seen the same bags four times…and I started to worry. After a half an hour, everyone who had boarded with us in Boston came to the realization that our bags were definitely not on that plane. We all lined up and filed our claims at Lost & Found.
I left that airport with only my carry-on which contained the following:
- an iPad mini
- a Kindle
- a notebook and two pens
- my “plane preparedness kit” including ginger gum, seabands, Emergen-C, a packet of powdered probiotics, and a change of underwear
- 100 $1 bills, $200 in 20’s, several $5 & $10 notes, all my credit cards
- both my passports.
I was wearing yoga pants, a tank top, a wicking long sleeve shirt, a fleece, a pair of socks, and my hiking boots. We took a $12 taxi to the White River Guesthouse 2, which was not at all what it looked like on the website. For $10 a night, though, it was clean enough to stay. It had a great balcony that overlooked a busy street, and was right at the corner of an intersection. My favorite thing to do was watch these two barbers across the street. They charged $1 for a haircut, and used clippers that were not electric. They also would also give you a shave with a straight razor, if you asked. Every morning they would set up their mirrors, barber’s chairs, and shaving station. They worked for about 12 hours a day.
To the left of the barbers was a motorbike repairman, always ready with a new tire and his air compressor. Next to him was a woman selling coffee, and next to her a slew of guys with motorbikes who seemed to always just be sitting there watching traffic go by. I think they gave rides to people as an alternative to the more expensive tuk tuks. To the right of the barbers was a restaurant with two tables and red plastic chairs. The family of four slept and worked on the same stretch of sidewalk. Every morning they got a delivery of ice to fill their ubiquitous red beverage coolers. A delivery truck would arrive, and a guy would climb into the back of the truck with a hook. He would hook the long rectangular block of ice until it slid down to the end of the truck. He would then make a mark in the ice for where to cut, and sawed a few inches into the ice. He took his machete and used it as a wedge to split off a block of ice. He did this for the entire truck-length piece of ice. Water dripped off the truck the whole time, it was mesmerizing.
We have since moved on from Phnom Penh, deciding to stick with our original plans even though our luggage still hasn’t arrived. It has been 4 days. We walked to Central Market in Phnom Penh, getting a little lost along the way, to buy some essentials. I bought:
- Small bottle of shampoo : $1
- Sports bra to use as a bathing suit: $4
- Bright blue ridiculous pants: $6
- A flowy white shirt: $8
- A pair of flip flops: $3
From what we can gather, (and thanks to my Dad and a friend for calling the airline from back home!) the bags were never put on the plane because of weight issues. An entire plane’s worth of luggage! We still don’t know when our bags will arrive in Phnom Penh, but we are at the point of fantasizing about key items in our backpacks. I dream of wearing my retainer again, making my headache finally go away. My travel buddy dreams of wearing her contacts again instead of her glasses with the incorrect prescription.
It’s the little things, really.