I haven’t really loved my time in Cambodia so far. A number of reasons have added up to me being alternately amused, faintly bored, somewhat interested and enormously irritated in varying amounts since I have been here. I am sad that I don’t have more time here to give it more of a chance and visit some places which are a little further from the backpacker trail, but unfortunately I am going to be leaving in about a week. Or perhaps fortunately, this time.
Don’t get me wrong; in no way am I dismissing the whole country, or the people, or the amazing experiences other people have had here. But at this point, Cambodia and I really haven’t gelled at all… Maybe another trip in the future will change my mind but currently, my feelings about the places I have been here are fairly resentful. For a number of reasons.
1) Siem Reap – getting tired of other travellers, Tuk tuk drivers, and “must-sees”
I did like Siem Reap, really. Once I got off the main route, dragged my arse around the town on a bicycle. Explored some more out of the way temples and let myself have a bit of down time alone. That was great. I have to admit that whilst Angkor War is amazing and ornate and beautiful, it is so built up as THE ONE THING in Siem Reap, and in Cambodia generally, worth seeing, it fell a little short for me. That might have been because my day on the main circuit there was fairly exhausting and not really the way I like to do things. I appreciate the magnitude of the work that went into it, and its significance to the Khmer people, but I have to say I preferred my visits to a couple of small museums around the city, and just sitting and soaking up some atmosphere in the evening.
I stayed with a couple of other girls for the first couple of nights, and whilst they were nice and we had a lot of laughs, it has made me more sure than ever that whilst I enjoy spending time with other people, I also REALLY need the opportunity to spend time alone. Spending even three days constantly in the company of people exhausts me and makes me feel a little stifled. Often it is no reflection on the people themselves but over time I have learnt that I do need my own space and the opportunity to be able to just sit by myself and follow my own itinerary, which usually changes by the minute.
The constant hassle from Tuk-Tuk drivers – “Lady, you want Tuk-Tuk?” “NO.” – AND beggars AND shop and stall owners is gearing on me now to the point where I can hardly bear to walk out of the door. It’s similar in Thailand and I know it’s part of the culture here, but it’s quite a bit more intrusive in Cambodia and I dislike it. A LOT.
2) Phnom Penh – a dingy hostel, a mugging and the start of an illness in a fairly unlikeable city
So many people are probably going to have issues with my complaints. I don’t care; I usually try hard not to complain about stuff but this is me venting, okay?
My hostel – the fairly ironically named “Lovely Jubbly Place” – gave me the impression of having checked in for a three-day stay at Azkaban. The WORST interior decorating I have ever seen. They went a bit mad with the bare concrete aesthetic…
The hostel had a fairly rubbish atmosphere, and it’s not that I care enormously about that because for me, hostels are only ever a place to sleep and shower, not somewhere where I will be spending my entire day, but it’s not a very comfortable place to return to after a day of traipsing around. Especially when you’ve been visiting places like the Killing Fields and Genocide Museum. You want to come somewhere a bit less… Prison-like?
The very high air con in my dorm was probably the start of me getting sick as well, so that didn’t help matters!
You can read all about my unfortunate mugging experience here – thankfully nothing was actually taken but it ruined any positive thoughts I was entertaining about Phnom Penh – and they were few to start with… The city just doesn’t have a great vibe and it’s easy to understand why most travelers don’t stick around here.
3) Kampot – bed-ridden, BED BUGS, and ready to be gone!
Weather has also turned fairly terrible. Whoa.
I have been in Kampot for a few days now and have done absolutely nothing . This is because I have been struck down with fever, uncontrollable shaking, headaches, aches everywhere else, “stomach troubles” and pretty much everything else which could be wrong with me. A three hour wait in the hospital later I had tested negative for malaria and dengue fever (just to be safe) and paid $30 to be told my immune system is shit and sent away with some zinc tablets. Cheers.
I’m at Mad Monkey, which is a hostel chain in Cambodia known for its social atmosphere and mad parties. Sadly I drew the short straw of being in the dorm on the ground floor literally right next to the bar blasting music all day. Not the best when trying to recuperate.
I do feel a bit better now and will hopefully be able to get out and explore the abandoned Hill Station – the reason I came to Kampot! Last night I came to my dorm to find a dude passed out in my bed. I kicked him out and he relocated to the floor. Plot twist; he is staff…
THIS JUST IN: I took my pyjamas off and it turns out they also have a bedbug problem.
I’m so done. Looking forward to being back in Thailand, to be honest! Perhaps the next week will change my mind…