By the time I was going for my Cambodia trip, I had graduated on my solo trip experiences. By now I had already learnt a few little no-need-to-jump-inside-the-cocoon-immediately facts, for example: If a stranger smiles at you, there’s no need to think that you are on demand, it’s just a polite gesture that many countries follow, even though it’s a completely different interpretation in India; you can speak to strangers sporadically, not every chat ends up to a date; you may meet people more than once in same trip but that doesn’t mean they are following you..
During this trip to Cambodia, I met so many tourists, all so eager to talk, to meet their fellow tourists. The questions were always the same but the answers were every-time different. There was laugh, there were suggestions, wishing ‘safe travel’ and ‘enjoy’ to each other and parting with them with a smile knowing that there would hardly be another meet-you-again moment. Simplest were those meetings, but remains fresh in the memory just-like-yesterday.
Hi.. Hello.. Good Morning.. We were about 4-5 people checked out of our rooms and were waiting at the hotel reception for our buses.
‘So we all have checked out today?’ an early morning eye make-up perfectionist asked the rest of us.
‘Is everybody going to Phnom Penh?’
‘We are going.’
‘Mine is different’.. ‘ Me too..’
‘Where are you going then?’
‘I am going to Sihanoukville’
‘Me too, and from there I will be taking a boat to Kuta Cave.’
‘WHERE?’ we all asked at the same time.
‘Kuta Cave! It’s a small island in Cambodia. And it’s quite a secluded island. There is only one hotel, and no internet. So hope it will be a different experience for me!’
‘Wow.. No internet did you say?’
‘Yes, hopefully I will survive; I am planning to stay there for 2 months.’
‘Two months in that island? How long is your trip?’
‘Aa, I am actually on a trip for a year.’
‘A year? So is this kind of your work?’
‘I do voluntary work and I travel.’
‘wow, that’s amazing.’
‘So where are you all from?’ That early morning eye make-up perfectionist asked all of us.
‘I am from London, but currently staying in Brussels with my boyfriend.’
‘I am from Belgium as well’ that girl with a year-long travel plan told
‘I am from India.’
‘I am from Netherlands, I am a Dutch you see.’ That early morning eye make-up perfectionist announced.
‘So how long are you travelling?’
‘I am travelling for 3 weeks, I am flying back day after tomorrow.’ This was the early morning eye make-up perfectionist
‘So where all did you go?’
‘I went to Kratie, it’s a village at the north, I stayed there for about a week, then I came to Siem Reap and then here. Now back to Phnom Penh and from there, Amsterdam.’
‘How was Kratie?’
‘It was good, a small village, still not very popular though and but quite soothing. It was my first solo trip.’
‘How did it go?’
‘Amazing, I loved it.’
‘Did any of you go for the Jungle trek?’ asked the same early morning eye make-up perfectionist.’
‘Oh did you stay there for the night, or came back the same day?’
‘No no came back the same day. Did you stay there at night?’ I was all pleased with my day tour to that forlorn island, no way I could stay there for a night!!
‘Yes, I stayed there for a night, there was another lady; two of us took the night stay option. So you saw that fountain there?’
‘They put up the camp there, and you can sleep inside. The guides had told us that there were bears.’
‘Yes, the guide told us the same as well. They even showed some marks of claws punctured on the tree trunks!’
‘The other lady and I went for a little walk inside the jungle, we were sitting at a quiet place then we heard some GRRRR sound, and we immediately came back to our campsite.’
Our pick up arrived, so two of us for Sihanoukville parted with the others and went ahead..
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‘Do you think that two months in Kuta cave is way too much?’ That Belgium girl with a year-long plan asked in the tuk-tuk on our way to the bus station
‘If you are comfortable with no connection with the rest of the world till that time, I don’t see it to be a way too much then.’
‘May be I go there, and see how I like the place?’
‘Yes, you always have an option to change your plan any time right?’
‘Yes very much. Then maybe I will decide once I go there.’
‘Sounds good to me.’
‘What’s your seat number?’
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That Bus to Sihanoukville was another party, we were about 5 solo travellers and the other 4 could talk like anything, they didn’t know the existence of full-stop, comma or other punctuations in English Grammar!
Hi.. Hi.. Hello..
‘So you are going to Sihanoukville or anywhere else?’
‘I am going to Sihanoukville, will stay there for a night and then will move to the island.’
‘I am going to Sihanoukville as well and will stay there for few days.’
‘Oh, seems we two are only going to Kuta Cave then?’
‘Oh you are going to Kuta Cave?’
‘Actually the lady sitting at the front, she is also going to Kuta cave. We were talking in the morning.’
‘Oh then we will meet her as well.’
‘So how long will you stay at Kuta cave?’
‘I am staying for 4 months.’
‘I haven’t decided yet. I don’t know how long can I manage!’
‘Is it because of the internet?’
‘I think so, then it’s quite a secluded place. Can I say something to you?’
‘This plastic cover on the coffee cup they give, are very bad plastic and not good for the environment. This should not be used actually. Can you re-consider next time please?’
‘Ok, that’s considerable, I will try not to take this covers next time may be? Thank you for telling me this’
‘No thank you, because people think I am some freak; all of a sudden telling strangers not to use plastic!’ (No wonder people think that!!).
‘Where are you from?’
‘Oo, I go to India, I have a friend at Podicherry? That’s the correct name right?’
‘Oh, right. So I have a friend there, I go there every year actually, stay with him for 2 months. I like that place.’
‘Oo wow. I still haven’t been there.’
‘Where are you from?’ Moving to the other lady standing beside me with red top-ramen hair.
‘I am from Czech Republic?’
‘Which part of Czech?’
‘I am from Otrava.’
‘so where in Sihanoukville will you stay at?’
‘Close to the Sihanouk beach, but I heard there’s lot of work going on in the city!’
‘I heard the same, everyone is talking about it, let’s see how it goes..’
‘So how long is your trip?’
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