The Trails and Trials that Led us to Cambodia

I admit, I knew next to nothing about Cambodia before I came. Even as I first stepped foot in Cambodia, all I knew was what I could read in the first couple of pages of my Lonely Planet guide book. I had an idea that Cambodian people in America were more likely refugees than immigrants, but I only knew one Cambodian-American boy who was born and raised in America.

Brian and my first experience on Cambodian soil (or headed to it) was not pleasant. We took a slow train to a border town in Thailand from Bangkok (I’m talking six hours on a standing room only train, with no conditioner, to travel about 150 miles—the distance from San Diego to Disneyland. Granted, the ride only cost us each $3, but still, it was bloody uncomfortable). A man on the train was so hospitable and kind as to offer his seat to a couple of travelers on the train. So many times, I witnessed Thai people being gracious and friendly to travelers.


The Grand Palace, Bangkok, Thailand

"I'm either lucid dreaming right now, or I'm in a video game."

These were the thoughts that entered my head as I stepped onto the grounds of the Grand Palace in Bangkok. The colors that greeted me were brilliant -- not brilliant like British speak for "this is awesome, yo", but brilliant like vibrant, rich, and breathtaking. The shapes and magnificent sizes of the structures seemed otherworldly. Due to being misdirected and conned by the peddlers outside of the palace walls, Brian and I missed the 2:00pm free tour in English of the palace, so we had no choice but to explore in complete ignorance and naivete. I had no idea what any of these buildings were used for, how old the buildings were, or what they looked like from the inside. No matter, there was plenty to see on the outside, and the mystery added to the structures' mystique.


Bangkok: Making Mistakes

A successful trip to the National Museum
One tip of the many I was given by close friends who have traveled in the area was“prepare to be ripped off. Just accept the fact that you will be. The sooner that you can accept this, the sooner you’ll get over it when it happens and the more you’ll enjoy everything else about your adventures.”

This piece of advice paints a picture of the traveler as a fairly innocent bystander being taken advantage of by the big, bad scammer who promises cheap seats on a riverboat to the best local eateries in town... until the wide-eyed traveller is left with nothing but overpriced tickets and, at best, decent food made by a chef who collects money and makes sandwiches with the same unwashed hands.

Bangkok: New Arrivals

When Brian and I first arrived in Bangkok, a new anxiety hit me. I was excited and a little bit afraid for my life. I  relate the feeling to being next in line at the county summer fair’s rickety roller coaster: you figure it’s safe enough because hundreds of people do it every year, yet you know that one wrong turn or small lost piece in the system can send the entire thing crashing down, thus ruining your summer and maybe your life.