It takes very little time to get used the place you’re in. The first day, you’re a little lost and using a map to figure out how to get to the places you want to go. On the second day you know that a particular roundabout brings you to the New Bridge, which brings you into town. After 10 days in a country you get used to the red dirt roads, the constant noise of tuk tuks going by, the types of street food you know you like and where to find it.
For me, Cambodia is so easy to love. Everyone moves at a comfortable pace, and no one is (too) cutthroat when driving. So I’m in a bit of a shock going from sleepy Kampot to bustling Phnom Penh to the intensity of Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam– and we’ve barely left the airport vicinity! In Cambodia, there just aren’t as many tourists everywhere you go (unless you’re at Angkor Wat), and the airport is practically deserted. In the Ho Chi Minh City airport, it’s a beurocratic nightmare. There are swarms of people crowding around the visa on arrival desk, some who have been waiting almost an hour and who are getting quite irate. I waited about 40 minutes before a tiny female voice tried, fairly successfully, to pronounce my name into the intercom. When she did it was like winning the lottery. I shoved my way through the huge mob of people and emerged victorious with my new one month visa to Vietnam.
In Vietnam their currency is the Dong. In Cambodia you can use American dollars. Since the only local currency we had was the equivalent of $1USD which my travel buddy had leftover from her last trip to Vietnam in 2001, we had to exchange some money so we could get to our hotel.
After leaving the airport, we looked around for something like a tuk tuk, but apparently there are none here, so we had to take a taxi. It cost us less than $5, but we didn’t go very far. Driving to our hotel, I noticed that it was very clean, lush with trees and flowers, and the roads had mostly cars, not motorbikes and tuk tuks. Everyone drove really fast and pretty crazy, getting very close to other cars.
All was right in the world, though, when we sat down to eat our first bowl of pho.