Chuck Hillig's Travel Blog

Well, I'm going to be doing a lot of traveling over the next 6-7 months so I thought that I'd better re-activate my travel blog. The last time I posted anything here was way back in 2006 when I was traveling through SE Asia. Feel free to read my entries back then about my earlier adventures through India,Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, the Philippines and Hong Kong. This time (at least for the next six weeks), I'll be traveling through Greece and Turkey.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

On the beach in Cambodia...

After Mohan and Giriji drove me to the airport on Tuesday evening, I caught the short flight over to Colombo, Sri Lanka, and hung around at their very modern airport for the 2:20 A.M. flight up to Bangkok and beyond. Sri Lankan airlines is really quite nice and they feed you a full meal..even on short flights. On the 3.5 hour trip to Bangkok, they even gave us a choice of about 8 movies to pick from plus many other audio and game channels. This plane also showed the takeoff and landing from a camera that was mounted beneath the plane. Very cool. We arrived at 6:30 A.M. at the huge and very modern international terminal in Bangkok. Very glitzy with hundreds of duty-free shops to spend your money in. After another hour, I took a Thai Airline flight to Phnom Penh.
Getting my Cambodian visa was quite interesting. You have to fill out this one-page sheet of the ususal information. However, it's then passed through (I'm not kidding) eight other official-looking military people, sitting side by side, who take their turn looking it over and signing off. Finally, it arrives at the last guy in the row who collects the $20 tourist visa for a one-month stay.
By the time I got outside of the terminal, I was getting pretty tired and so I didn't spend too much time bargaining for a taxi to take me to Serendipity Beach...about a 3.5 hour ride on a fairly decent road that had been built by the Americans. Although I saw pockets of trash alongside the road on our trip to the beach, I'd guess that Cambodia looked about 90% cleaner than India. The people are all very friendly and my driver spoke enough English to give me a tour. At the beach, I located the House of Malibu and checked in to an air-conditioned room about 50 feet from the water's edge. All along the beach in both directions are little beachside restaurant-bars with tables beneath thatched roofs and stretching several levels down onto the sand. Everything is open-aired so there's a great feeling of expansiveness. Lots of Europeans (Germans, Austrians and, of course, Brits) and only a sprinkling of Americans. I met some friendly Brits and had a few beers to mellow out. Immediately, as the new arrival, I was surrounded by 4-5 young girls who were hawking their bracelet-making abilities. Very persistent so I had them make one for each of my grandchildren. By 5 P.M., I was ready to sleep for a few hours. I awoke at 10 and decided to walk down to the water. The weather is warm, humid and clear. When the sun goes down, all of the little restaurants on the beach have colored lights and candles on all of the tables. Very beautiful in a fantasyland sort of way. Lots of folks at night partake in the local ganja weed so everyone is pretty mellow. Today (Thursday) I treated myself to an excellent massage on the beach...along with a pedicure and a manicure...all for US$8. Beer is only a buck here and you can get a full meal for around US$3.50. I'm taking a taxi over the main part of town this afternoon to check it out. More as it unfolds...

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