So before I try to finish updating everyone on the trip I just want to acknowledge a couple things:
1. He absolutely saw that episode of the Chapelle show, which made the joke that much better.
2. Annie told me that I used the word “incredible” and its variants too much in my last post. I wrote it at 5:30 am Friday morning – the fact that it got written is incredible in itself.
Soooooo we left off somewhere in Sihanoukville.
Tuesday: We landed in Sihanoukville somewhere around midday and headed to our hotel. As a group we strolled along the beachfront and had lunch at a local cafe before heading into a Scuba Nation, a snorkeling and diving shop, to get sized for equipment and check up on our accommodations for the following day. Afterward, a few of us went down to the beach to cool off and relax. We grabbed dinner on the beach and made friends with a local boy named Venny who was selling bracelets to pay for school. He spent most of the night with us telling jokes, and teaching us a little bit more about Cambodia from a native’s perspective. Once the debacle with the bill was solved we headed back to our rooms and turned in early to prep for one of the more interesting stops on our trip.
Wednesday/Thursday: We met as a group at 6:30 am to walk to the dive shop. At about 7 am two beat up old vans picked us up, and drove us to the docks where we hopped on our home for the next day and a half. The twelve of us, two dive instructors and the three man cabin crew shared a small two story boat for almost two days. We dealt with motion sickness, wind, a clogged toilet, bad sunburns, running out of assorted biscuit tins, and getting our sea legs. But despite the hiccups, we grew a lot closer on the boat; laughing, sharing stories, playing cards and pushing some of our comfort zones hopping in the water.
We had a two hour boat ride to the island of Koh Rung where we sat in the deep blue waters of M’Pey Bay and moved around to different snorkel and dive spots periodically. The sparkling blue water contrasted beautifully with the white sand beaches and the mixture of green hues given off by the jungled islands. The scenes here were some of if not the most picturesque of our time in Cambodia, but they pale in comparison to the beauty we got to experience in the water.
I know I struggled at first. I’m not the strongest swimmer, and trying to fix my mask in the middle of the ocean proved to be trying at times and breathing through a snorkel took some acclimation. But despite my fears, this ended up being one of my favorite memories. I cannot justly describe the infinite beauty and peace that came with snorkeling for me. The light blue water, brightly colored fish, and the reflection of the sun all created this incredibly zen experience for me as I focused on the dazzling, aquatic world around me. By the end of our trip I didn’t want to leave the water, even though I was initially afraid to get in.
Between bouts of snorkeling we ate really well. Baguettes, omelets, fresh fruit, fried rice, chicken, spaghetti etc. Every meal on the boat was prepared by our cheerful, chain smoking Khmer captain who knew his way around the galley almost better than he did the Bay. Meals provided us a great way to learn about Michael and Chris our guides and opened the floor for a very meaningful discussion on the ecology of Cambodian waterways, the issues of trash and pollution as well as the fight to keep illegal fishing out of Cambodia. This discussion followed with what we could do to help and a meditative mindfulness practice that helped us to really focus on experiencing the world around us.
Sadly our short stay in paradise had to come to an end and we returned to shore about 2pm Thursday. Immediately after checking back into the hotel, Caleb, Vonte and I found a local Cambodian gym where we could work out. It was much different than what I’m used to training at in the US, but I was able to get in a pretty solid workout. The bar sizes were very different, there was a strange assortment
of kilogram plates, and most of the equipment was lime green metal with rust caked all over. I’m not
sure if any of the people there bench over 100 kegs because they kept watching me workout, yelling things in Khmer and ultimately asked me to weigh myself. I felt like a celebrity, but was also a little uncomfortable with the attention. Post workout we grabbed a fresh coconut and explored a little more of Sihanoukville before calling it a night to prep for the trek to Phnom Penh.