Rain. Rain rain rain. Somehow I’ve hop scotched my way around the world enough this year to avoid a majority of every city’s I-woke-up-on-the-wrong-side-of-the-bed-and-I’m-PMSing-and-I-cant-find-my-damn-keys day. But my luck hath runneth dry. I kicked off my winter vacation this year with the postponement of three days in Ho Chi Minh due to a business trip to Battambang, Cambodia- our sister DDD office.
Battambang was…a surprise. It was genuine and quaint and calming. It allowed me to get lots of work done but de-stress in the evenings to my heart’s content. Even if I was waking up with a pen and paper in my hand and wading through task lists up to my nose, once I left the office to the beat of riverside aerobics and Sean Kingston’s “Beautiful Girl,” I knew I could breathe. I unwound reading a good book and writing about the greatness that resides in untouched cities.
On the bus back from Battambang some old white dude who was questionably accompanied by a young Khmer girl and her niece fell extremely sick. We’re talking worse than that 25th birthday party you brilliantly, then shamelessly, then shamefully, celebrated in Vegas years ago. The first signs of my luck running out. Then I lost my toiletries bag and started cursing at the walls in my apartment. I mean I had my eyeliner in there!
The next day I jump, or crawl rather, on another long bus ride to Ho Chi Minh. It wasn’t too bad considering the $15 I paid for a 6 hour trip. The border crossing was the best. Cheap food, sketchy officials, and a “standard” bus search where I’m sure I could have gotten away with lots of crimes.
Ho Chi Minh greeted me with a sweet little slap in the face putting Shabnam in a thin skirt and white shirt stuck in the rain without an umbrella. Fantastic. Then it sent me a crazy old man angrily throwing money at me in the park while I wrote in my journal. Writing on a bench is apparently synonymous to homeless girl. Thanks grumps. I then ended up at a fantastic veggie joint watching the Vietnam-Thailand football game and throwing back a couple beers with some random locals. Being in Vietnam when they won the championship game was pretty amazing!
The next week was spent traveling like crazy (one bus was literally 100 times nicer than the hotel room we had), a number of less than aromatic hotel rooms, lots of tombs and pagodas, and some entertaining nights with an old friend. I spent New Year’s Eve in a charming little city called Hoi An. I cant imagine a more perfect place to spend a holiday. (If it wasn’t drowning from rain!) Needless to say, the luck got drier as the cities got wetter. I ended up getting sick and finding out my tailor made vacation fit precisely to my father’s arrival time was thrown off due to an unforeseen circumstance of his nifty little passport’s expiration date. Nice Dad!
Although, I must say, I was more than relieved to come home to my bed, my sheets, my towel, my computer, my shower, my food, my balcony, and my gym. Even if my work out consisted of 5 min bike-> 30 min sauna. Ahhh…home! I then had an amazing dinner atop an undiscovered restaurant overlooking the magnificent mosque of Phnom Penh paired with a riveting conversation with a new friend. I concede it sounds as if my trip was treacherous, but it was really very great. Vietnam has a lot to offer and has a heavy history filled with war and pain and struggles. It’s written on the face of every citizen upwards of age 20. Although, when I got back to Cambodia I realized it was better I keep my mouth shut about my Vietnamese dress- the Khmers don’t take too kindly their neighbors any more.
All in all, I think my luck might be turning finally. Look forward to a Khmer Wedding piece in the coming days, as they are a dime a dozen around here lately and I will not be missing out!