Since I still owe ya’ll my impressions on Thailand, I figured for once I’d wrap up two countries in one post. We’re spending the night in Bangkok with an amazing Couchsurf lady and looking forward to our trip to Japan tomorrow!
Thailand was probably the most built-up country I’ve been to thusfar. Everyone who had been told us it was paradise on Earth. To be fair, we only saw Bangkok and the southern part of the country on our first go-round, so it’s not a complete impression, but I was not that impressed.
First off, I don’t like the really touristy areas. “Hold on!” you might be thinking. “You went to one of the highest-tourist-density areas in the entire world! What’d ya expect?!” Well, it had been built up so much by everyone that I figured it would be balanced. Sometimes it was. Othertimes, it wasn’t.
The islands in the south of Thailand are quite beautiful. It’s everything you’ve seen on TV and in films. You can exist on any budget and feel like you’re having a good time. I had pockets of adventure and saw some truly amazing sights (Phang Nga Bay was great!) but it was buffered by crowds, snarky westerners, and a lack of hospitality by the locals.
I’m sure the fact that I broke toes on Ko Phi Phi didn’t help matters.
Anyway…it was a mixed bag. I’m looking forward to going to the northern half of the country to get the total picture.
Cambodia is an extraordinary mixture of amazement and sadness. Indi’s post summed up the sadness that weighs on you in the Khmer Rouge areas, so I won’t go into that. She said it far better than I could ever hope to.
The other side of the spectrum lies in the awe and amazement that is Angkor Wat. I’ve never seen or experienced anything that ancient or revered in my life. Again, I’ve posted about that in depth so I won’t bore you with a repeat.
The people of Cambodia were unfailingly kind. Aside from some odd alleys in Phnom Penh, I felt safe everywhere. The tuk-tuk drivers and touts were friendly and enjoyed haggling their prices, taking great pride in their work. The ones that could communicate in English were open about themselves and their country.
Working with the children of New Futures Orphanage was one of the most fulfilling experiences I’ve ever had. They were so happy to interact with someone, anyone. On my rides out into the countryside to one of their sponsored schools, kids would chase after the bike I was riding on, waving and shouting. When a Cambodian breaks out into a smile, which is often, it’s truly heartwarming.
The last few months in southeast Asia have been eye-opening. I’ve seen a way of life and cultures that I either never heard of or only read about in books. Tomorrow is another chapter in our travels as we fly to JAPAAAN (Street Fighter II voice) and spend a considerable about of time in Osaka, Indi’s old stomping grounds. Japan is unlike anywhere else in the world (as I’ve heard) and I cannot wait to share it with you.
Thanks again for all of our friends and family for sharing in our journey with us. We are glad to have you with us.