Phnom Penh Proves Again that Time is not Really Real

Today I decided to head to the Palace here in Phnom Penh where the imperial family live. Only thing today is Sunday and its not open on Sundays it appears. Whoops?

So instead I just walked another way and soon was not missing the palace at all. It was a beautiful and warm day with some clouds but mostly sunshine. I just took roads this way and that and soon was immersed in the walk itself and not the missed palace opportunity. I saw two bridges I had never seen before and explored them. I also saw new hotels going in all over the place north of the river front area. Lots of construction that a person here told me is about Chinese investment mostly.

I ended up much like before at a watering hole by the river drinking a few cold Angkor draft beers. One of my neighbors had tacos there. I could not remember the last time I had tacos but I just splurged on a steak last night so I had will power to not eat again downtown since it costs more. I did watch and have some vicarious thrills on the tacos. They looked really good! To kind of get my fix, I found a Mexican restaurant here that I will visit next week at some point.

Time does not Exist…

I’ve come to the realization that traveling like this removes the count of days and h0urs from the equation. I really had no idea it was Sunday until I found out that the palace was closed because it was Sunday. I think this is a positive effect of not having a damned thing to do and all day to do it. Whether I sit an extra hour in the morning with an iced latte or leave or go to this or that point, nothing really matters any longer. I’ve separated from the devil count of hours, minutes, seconds and how time ruled my life working.

Lets face it. The count of days does not matter folks. Its not the count that guides your lives. It what you do inside them with the moments. The priceless moments matter that you fill with things and places and people. We live our lives constrained by clocks and calendars and tick tock of time. It leaves us wounded and not able to truly enjoy what we have left.

Until we travel.

Once we travel and we do it long term, time seems to unravel. The seconds go spinning off and the minute and hour hands on the clock detach and we have been given the real gift of it all. We have the moments back and its up to us to fill them. My job before was time. Schedules and tasks and milestones and people neatly or not fit inside them. This has to be done then and then you could do that. Predecessors had to be done before you could do the next thing. Think about how it feels for a moment when a life is guided by all that BS. There’s no recovering. You’re trapped in time.

But then I left.

It was not an immediate thing. It took some months or days or something but one day I truly stopped caring whether a weekend or weekday greeted me. I had lost count this time until I found out that the Imperial Palace was not open. Say what? Oh. Got it. It was that time thing again. Well, fuck that. I don’t like time. Space ain’t much good either. Together they form a vortex. I don’t like vortices.

So I bailed and I did not even know it. And it felt damned good.

Two weeks in Phnom Penh and Other Things

Two weeks in Phnom Penh have passed now. I’ve been having a pretty good time here with the food and photography and travel. In another two weeks I leave Phnom Penh and travel by bus to Sihanoukville where I will spend a month. Then another month in Siem Reap and a final month in Battambang and then back to Phnom Penh for a week and I leave for Singapore.

At that point, I’ll be the on road in Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand for 5 months. I only spend a short time in Singapore because its cost of living is so high. What I spend for a week in a hotel there would get me a month in Malaysia.

Candidly speaking, I’ve seen the low and high sides of Phnom Penh. There is a bar district right by the riverfront which I don’t like much. Seeing a bunch of people staggering around drunk by 7pm does not do much for me. I just find it distressing I guess and I’m glad I don’t partake of that lifestyle. The high side is the history and beautiful architecture, food, and people here. I’ve wandered outside of the city and you see a completely different lifestyle. Not poor but not rich or entitled either. People genuinely look happy out there and I’ve been waved at and told hello by so many different types of people. I think the high sides of life here outweighs what I consider to be the depressing side by a far distance. The cultures here are ancient and visiting museums or galleries you get to see the lives of people going back centuries. I love that stuff!

Then there is the food culture here. I think Cambodian people love to eat and drink and it does not have to be Kymer food. Pizza, burgers, whatever are good. Restaurants by my hotel do not have English speaking staff but going to them has become fun. One place I have gone to a few times is notable by the sound of the beer tops popping from the Angkor Beer bottles. Its one of my favorite places since the food portions are huge and the prices are not.

The final food type thing is the coffee culture here. Coffee here is a pastime and there are these small sometimes mobile stalls all around the city that sell primary iced drinks. The iced latte that this place has down the street is most excellent when I get done with breakfast and settle in for a morning watching news and reading.

I was giving some thought to budget and money the other day. Its really hard for me to track what I spend because I don’t really care any longer. I have money. There is food and beer and a t shirt every so often. There is the Grab Tuk Tuks to take to places. Everything is covered and the most important of all is that I don’t feel stressed on how its done or what I spend. If I have to go to the ATM I go to the ATM. Here in Cambodia the US dollar rules so if you just use those you are good across the board. You may get change though in Riel so you have to remember the exchange rules. I don’t mind because its roughly 4k riel to $1 USD. Pretty easy when you get used to it to figure what you got back.

There are a few safety rules here if you visit to consider. Do not wave an expensive iPhone around on the streets or hold it lazily in your hand. Do not hold an expensive camera in your hand. They can be snatched. Do not carry your passport and wallet. I advise to buy a cheap little coin purse you carry around USD and some Riel in. Secure backpacks carefully because people have had them lifted from Tuk Tuks.

This is the same in any big city around the world though. If you wander around carrying expensive stuff in a hand, it may be removed from you in Paris, London, Chicago or New York too. Just exercise common sense.

Anyways, I have had a great time here for two weeks. Got my visa extended to a multiple entry retirement visa so I can always come back here from wherever for the next year. I visited several markets and bought t shirts that actually fit! :-). Ate some really good Cambodian BBQ down the street at an interesting restaurant I may go back to. I love the coffee stalls all around the city just in the right place at the right time!

My next plans are pretty well set to end of the year and my initial trip to Singapore. I have 30 days planned out in Kuala Lumpur but after that I have 60 more days on the tourist entry visa to see Malaysia and I don’t know what I’ll do. I have a few places I want to go that I may do shorter trips to. I have plane tickets booked for Phuket from Bangkok and then back. I will find other places to go in Thailand as I go.

Then I get back to Phnom Penh in June 2019. I think I will stay here a few weeks and take care of some things and get a tourist visa to China. I will need to be back in September to extend my retirement visa another year. I truly believe that that the retirement extension of stay visa is the best deal here for the money. If you’re retired and considering leaving, take a look at the Cambodian visas. Does not mean you have to stay here. The countries here can be traveled easily. I will always want to get back to Vietnam but Thailand, Lao, Malaysia, all can be reached easily.

I would also conclude that slow travel will always win out for me to these places. I cannot see speeding up to increase the country or continent count. The pace I go lets me settle in and do things in each place or not. I don’t feel rushed or the need to reach some magical quotient of countries and days.

A word on the blog as well. This blog is not about being monetized, seeking a cash flow, ads, creating content someone else pays for and it never will be. It’s probably not good enough. I have been doing this for 20 years and I’ve seen it come and go. Blogging 20 years ago was completely different than now. To the pioneers then the written word was king. Finding other blogs that you could link to or comment on was a big part of the experience. Linking out or in was authority. Services sprang up like Technorati back then to capture the authority and create authority indices and what blogs were the most popular. I would not say we have descended or become less. People still write and create content and I admire those that do so for the love of the word. I also don’t feel that those that create content and get paid are wrong or less. Its only when the ads and products lessen to me the value of the word that I stop reading those blogs. I think we would all agree we do this to create content and then share it. Maybe some do it to increase the number of followers. Great! I don’t. If no one reads this blog, I am just as happy creating it because its my voice on my travels. I share it because it suits my values; not yours.

First retirement article

I’ve updated the static wordpress page here with my initial installment of retirement and moving to Asia. My goal is to provide a new report each week on the static page. Since the page is static and per my choice, I’ve disabled comments for now. I may edit or update the page with more details between now and the next installment.

Other stuff that has been going on…

I’ve been in Cambodia now two weeks and have two weeks to go. I’ve changed how I reach places to see by taking a Grab tuk tuk to a places and then going to investigate there and then going back home on a tuk tuk. This way I can target more places but also be flexible. Today I took a tuk tuk to the National Library but ended up out in the country walking down these little roads where the kids would tell me hello and I got to see another part of Cambodia.

Tomorrow I take a tour which is a river boat trip down the rivers for a few hours and get to eat bbq and drink and then come back.

I’m still waiting on my visa extension to get done. Once I get the ER visa extension for a year, I am good for leaving and returning here as I need. I can get to January 2019 after visiting different cities here in Cambodia and then leave for months to visit Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand. It allows a lot of flexibility to what I can do and how long I can be gone. Cambodia becomes more of a home base for me from which I can travel and return for a year.

So that’s about it. Lots of things happening next few days for me. Stability with the retirement visa has been planned for awhile. The travel to other places is all set for the most part. I’ve booked the flights I need but I don’t know what I will do in Malaysia for 60 days after the first thirty in Kuala Lumpur. Mysteries are good!

Getting around, finding things, services and support in Vietnam and Cambodia

Getting basic stuff done in Vietnam and Cambodia is the subject for today’s post. There are a number of things you need to figure out in a new place. I kinda keep a list so I can refer back and find the things:

  1. Laundry services. I don’t like washing my own clothes nor will I ever do it again. You can easily find laundry services that will turn around your laundry in a day or so and charge you about $2.00 or so in Vietnam and Cambodia. My last place in Da Nang, the hotel did laundry for guests and turned it around in one day. It was decent service. In Cambodia you can see Mr. Clean signs here and there and they quote the price for the weight of laundry. If you are determined to do laundry in your room, go for it. I have done it by washing in hair shampoo and warm water, soaking, rinsing, soaking and then getting a towel and rolling up the underwater repeatedly in the towel to remove excess water. In a warm place, laundry will dry pretty fast.
  2. Money Exchange. In Vietnam I headed toward a jewelry shop or just took currency out from an ATM. They did not accept US dollars wherever I went so I really got out of the habit of using it. Here in Cambodia, everything is US dollar based. ATMs give US dollars. Cash registers give you both USD and Riel prices. Down the street is the WING shop. They do currency exchange and will break larger US bills. Here is a hint. If you want to make Cambodian vendors unhappy, give them something larger than a $10 bill for something small. Instead, in your daily carry around money pack about $20 USD in singles and a 10 or so. Its fine for a day or two even if you splurge.
  3. Water. In the heat of both Vietnam and Cambodia you will sweat. My t shirt gets drenched because I walk everywhere here. Drink bottled water! Get yourself a 1.5 liter bottle or two every day. Do not drink the tap water even if people say its okay in Cambodia. Why risk it? Also the circle K and other stores like VinMart quote the prices on the shelf. One price for everyone. A local vendor will decide to charge you more. Once in Hanoi, I was out with a Vietnamese friend and we stopped for water. She was taking a picture and I rejoined her and told they wanted to charge me 25k VND for a 1.5 liter bottle of water. She was outraged and went to get water and it was 10k. An argument broke out with the vendor about the pricing and my friend threatened to call the police. Finally the vendor relented and sold me a bottle of water at the non tourist prices. The same happens in Cambodia. A local person will quote you some price in Riel. You have to be quick to know what is being offered. For small purchased like water, I carry a 1k Riel note with me or so.
  4. SIM cards. This is always interesting. Do you get one at the airport or wait? Everywhere on every street you can buy them. I really recommend that you go with viettel in Vietnam since its government owned and I like Smart Services in Cambodia. You can walk in with your passport, plop down some money in either country, buy talk and data time for cheap, and be ready to adventure in your new country. Don’t forget you need an unlocked phone. For Heaven’s sake also be careful with where you flash your phone. Carrying it one hand down city streets in just about any street in big town anywhere is asking for it to be lifted.
  5. Electronics, Camera and other goodies. I have found only one camera shop in Da Nang I trust. I bought the Fuji xT2 there. They were authorized Fujifilm resellers. I would read reviews carefully before buying stuff off the street. You can find quality electronics shops here in Phnom Penh and in Vietnam by reading a bit. Use those and don’t get ripped off.
  6. Clothing, shoes, socks backpacks, daypacks, etc. Often you just arrive at a place and need something cheap to carry around in the new city. Markets in Asia are meant for that. Head to a market but first read up on which one. In Phnom Penh the markets are kind of specialized. In Vietnam, one market can have an astounding variety of stuff but you have to be patient and go through from back to front and side to side. Its fun really if you just relax, get yourself an iced coffee and go with the flow. Its what the local people do! Also I figure there is a boundary to haggling. If something costs $2 USD its kind of ridiculous to haggle.
  7. Food. How do you find food in a new place? Its probably like how other people do it. In Hanoi I just walked out the door and Voila! Food! But sometimes I wanted to find some splurge food like hamburgers or western dinners or pizza. Google Maps and TripAdvisor work very well. In Vietnam I would walk or get a grab. Here in Phnom Penh, its simpler. Install the GRAB app and since it uses google GPS data you just favorite your hotel and type in the name of the place in English like “Tokyo Barber Shop”. The app goes and finds it, tells you the distance and give you the cost in Riel. No bargaining since its computed and you don’t get some scam going when you get out because you have the receipt on your phone in the app.

I have other topics like how I decide where to go when I’m staying long in a place. Here in Cambodia now, I target a thing, activity, museum, or site I want to visit. I will Grab tuk tuk there. If its a restaurant at night I will tuk tuk both ways. I won’t walk around Cambodia besides by my hotel at night that much. I walked more at night in Da Nang because I felt safe there. So anyways, finding a place then figuring out how to get there and get back is the fun of a new city. Like today I picked a new way to walk back and I found the government and military buildings I had never seen before in wide blocks with beautiful sidewalks. Walking is definitely the way to go folks!

Anyways, those are my primary things for finding the new things, services, support I may need in a new place. Of course friendly hotel staff like here at the LaLune Hotel in Phnom Penh does not hurt. Getting a local recommendation for food rules!

New Blog Series – Retirement, Asia, and Traveling Forever

I’m starting a series of a few blog posts on retirement and living and traveling. The purpose of this next series of posts are to define how you can do better if you are living on fixed income if you have a mildly adventurous soul and are able to adjust to cultural change and thrive. Here’s an article that got me thinking about just how far US social security retirement will carry you. So what do I hope to convey that adds to the balance of information for people? That’s the topic of the next few posts. Here are the posts upcoming. Each one will be linked and presented and hopefully at the end of the next few posts you can see what retirement means, your choices if you travel, and how some freedom can work if you are retired in places that cost less.

  1. Retirement and Travel in Asia
  2. Making Life better with limited funds traveling in Asia
  3. How to go slow and see more
  4. Visas and Passports and places that offer more for less
  5. Bringing it all together. Being old does not mean you sit at home wondering

I came to the conclusion that more needed to be done after talking with a variety of people in Vietnam and Cambodia about retirement. Retirement is supposed to be the good times folks. You are supposed to be able to take a breather, find a new thing, do a new thing, and perhaps find a new way of living. Maybe even finding a new partner if you are socially inclined. I am a solitary type so I solo travel but perhaps its not meant for you so you want something more.

Another thing I hope to convey in the series is that a person is never too old to find a new adventure. I answer questions about aging a lot on Quora about aging and travel. I think people reach their retirement years and get complacent or believe they are XX years and cannot possibly hit the road. I think fear plays a great role in this. Fear of both the known and unknown. There also is the difference of a place like Vietnam or Cambodia. Some of us are simply not made for having our senses assaulted by change. We’re more comfortable with the known yet often the known will cost more, mean you live less, and perhaps even threaten your possessions.

I am gong to write each of the blog posts above sequentially each week. So the retirement and travel in Asia post will come next week or late this week and I will then publish one in the series each forthcoming week.

So anyways, if you are interested in what a tomorrow may look like; stay tuned. I’ll continue to write my regular travel posts about life on the road in Cambodia and what I see and link to photography I do. Maybe instead I will create a static page in WordPress for this work. I think perhaps a static page would be easier to manage and let there be a difference in content.

The Market Scene in Phnom Penh

Today I picked one of the many markets here in Phnom Penh to visit. The market today was the Russian Market. They don’t sell Russians at the market but historically it was visited by Russians here quite a bit. Each market has a specialty or two and I picked the Russian Market because I wanted to see if I could find t-shirts that would fit me so I can stop ordering them from the states. And I was successful! I picked up a shirt that says Cambodia for $5. I don’t know how long it will last but lets face it. A shirt that costs $5 can go for 6 months and that’s good enough. I’ll have gotten my money’s worth. The other thing I wanted was a small change purse type thing since I lost the money clip I bought in Saigon. I found a little purse with an elephant on it for $2 which has a zipper on the top. It will hold all my US and Cambodian money I take when I’m out for the day. I don’t carry my wallet and would never carry my passport either.

The Russian Market is also known for food stalls so you have to stop and eat. Eating is not limited so I just sat down at one place and got some Kymer noodles spiced up which were really good! There are competing places that serve the same food so you can just have your choice. I spent about $2 for this big bowl of noodles there. After eating and watching the scenes in the food court I wandered through the clothing, fabric, backpack and jewelry sections. Its amazing how markets here and in Vietnam work. A lot of travelers from different places too. One person from Australia I am gathering was not having a good day of it and complained to me about having to do yet another market.

The other things I saw in the Russian market are backpacks and purses. If you are after anything from a small daypack to a larger backpack, the Russian Market is for you. I saw several stands with a variety of backpacks. Perhaps you should not believe that these are genuine but if you pay $10 for a bag and it lasts a year it seems to me you have gotten value. I bought a genuine fake North Face Surge backpack in Saigon and it has been fine. I will probably buy more t shirts as I get rid of the ones I have and re-stock them since finally the 2XL t shirt size fits me.

Bargaining is enabled on items but seriously for the little purse I bought to hold my daily money, how would I bargain for less than $2? Would I say $1? I just cannot see doing it for things so minor in cost. A t shirt for $5 is the same. I will just pay the $5 for the shirt. But… When you get to things like backpacks and duffel bags or belts; then its time to bargain and shave some cost off.

Then there are bunches of other markets in Phnom Penh. I thought perhaps there were about 10 of them and then I saw this list. So many of them scattered throughout the city! I don’t know that I will it to all of them. I guess if one of the markets specialized in something I needed I would go. So far, I have been to two and the things I commonly want (clothing, belts, backpacks) are at the Russian Market.

Tomorrow I will go and get a haircut and then walk back. I found a barber that is highly reviewed and rated that will be a good walk back. Now its a nice and slow time in the hotel room with BBC news going and the hotel is all quiet and stuff. I’ll sit here until 6pm and then walk over to this spicy noodle place and try it.

I will also wander the neighborhoods by the hotel since its a group of interesting little streets and shops. In a week I will be at the half-way point in Phnom Penh. Next stop Sihanoukville for a month. Then Siem Reap comes with the temples that I am really wanting to see. Being there a month means no real rush to see them or to go back. Finally the second largest city has me for a month. Battambang is the last city I will see and then will head back to PP and the LaLune Hotel for a week. After that I take off for Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand! 2019 is shaping up to be an excellent year for my brand of slow travels.

Take care all. Have a great day, evening, morning. Wherever your timezone finds you.

Aeon Mall 1 in Phnom Penh and new ways to see this amazing city!

I went through some thoughts on how to change my method of seeing the city since I’ve spent a number of days roaming around the local places. I think I have a new method which is fun and profitable for me. I have these locations saved in google maps for “want to go”. Many are 3 to 6km away. I did one today which was the aeon mall which I captured here. So the new method to be able to see things like malls, markets, and parks or historic sites since my hotel is located a bit distant is to tuk tuk there and then walk back. The farthest distance I would have to walk is about 8km which is no real problem for me and I would get to see a very nice cross section of the city. Riding the tuk tuks is no big expense for me. Couple dollars here and there and I have a method of seeing the city which will ensure I can reach all the places easily since Grab tuk tuks use google maps for GPS and you add in the destination in the app and get the price up front. Most of the drivers speak some English and today the guy was really good.

My few hours at the Aeon Mall were interesting. The mall is about 5 stories I guess with a bunch of stores, a pretty nice food court, and pretty good access from this road that runs nearby. I wandered the mall and saw a Burger King, Krispy Kreme Donuts, and a bunch of coffee and bakery places. Really a nice mall and the AC blasts so if you are a bit uncomfortable from the heat the mall is good. The heat really does not bother me that much any longer. I guess the times in Hanoi and Saigon kinda got me ready for Asia heat and humidity.

Tomorrow I will do Russian Market which is about 4km distant and then will tour around the market and look for a few things I would like to have and then walk back to the hotel.

Next week I will pick out other spots I want to do and extend my reach in Phnom Penh. I am gonna spend some time finding the places for the day trips and also restaurants at night I want to do. I don’t really care if I spend for the tuk tuk twice or not or if the restaurant is close to where I go. I want to see the city the way I want to do it and this seems to be a great way to look around and also extend the distance I can go.

Next Friday I do a dinner cruise along the river for a few hours and will have all food and drinks paid for on the tour. That sounds dangerous :-). I should have the remainder of my time pretty well scoped out for places but will always include some randomness around the hotel since the area is a tightly knit set of blocks which I think should be seen.

I’m hoping by next Wednesday to have my passport back from immigration with the date extended. Once I get that done, time is pretty much mine and I can take as long as I want or define new trips with a return flight always to Phnom Penh.

That’s about it for a pretty nice day of wandering. Cambodian BBQ tonight on tap down the street from the hotel. I am hoping to try their steak and veggies cooked at the grill on the table. The cost is about $5.00 for the food.

Visas and Travel and how Southeast Asia is the best!

I went in today and took my Passport in for the so-called extension of stay retirement visa. The visa agent was a great person who understands the visa laws of Cambodia quite well. She told me some of the things I could do if I wanted to change the extension of stay to another one of the four types. Here’s a synopsis of the extensions you can get. I got the retirement extension or the ER choice. This visa can be given for up to 12 months and is a multiple entry visa. It costs $290 per year and next September after the 16th of the month I can apply for a renewal by going back to the agent and doing it again.

When I planned the departure, my primary goal was to find long stay places that also had reasonable visa laws that I could extend easily. Thailand has a decent retirement visa. Malaysia’s is priced too high for me. Vietnam does not have one but I could get a year long visa but would have to leave every 90 days for a visa run. The best combination of value and cost was Cambodia and I think they really want retired folks spending their money here.

My primary goal with the long stay visa extension in Cambodia was to establish a home base from which I can travel out to where I want to go but always be able to get back and have an established home so to speak. I don’t intend on staying in Cambodia all the time. In my current travel plan I will be back in Phnom Penh in January after visiting 4 other cities in Cambodia in 4 months. Then I will spend a week at the LaLune Hotel and fly to Singapore. I will not be back to Cambodia until June then as I see Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand. In June I fly to Ho Chi Minh City, then to Hanoi, and then back to Phnom Penh at the end of 30 days. Probably two weeks in each place. I have friends in both places that want me to visit.

Its good timing for the visa to get back around August or so to Phnom Penh. I will be able to extend the retirement visa for another year in September but the other reason is China. I can get a tourist visa for China right here in Cambodia in a few days and go visit later next year. Another new goal I have is to ride the Shinkansen from Kyushu to Hokkaido in Japan. I want to see all of Japan and I would take a few months doing it. Then there’s India. I have to get back to India. People have been asking after me in Chennai, Mumbai, and Bangalore.

As long as I have the anchor or home base here, I can always get back and rest up or plan more things or just hang out in Phnom Penh. I also don’t mind return visits to places like Malaysia. I would only do long term stays in cheap places. So the long term retirement visa here is a big deal for me. It anchors me and also lets me go. Its multiple entry so I can take time as I want in Vietnam or Thailand or wherever but always get back here.

If you ever plan a getaway that is a forever thing and you are retiring, consider that Southeast Asia is kind of tailor made for retirees. Living is cheaper although you have to adapt and adopt a bit. Traveling is cheaper. You can travel across a lot of countries big and small and meet some amazing people. And you can do it all on less money than you think. Having the monthly social security retirement is nice for stability but the actual living expenses are low. Even if I splurge multiple times on food, everything always ends up good for me.

Give it some thought if you are getting close to retiring and wondering what in the world you will do next.

Getting around Phnom Penh – Real and Ideal thoughts for you

I went out for a great walk with the camera today and saw a variety of city blocks. Big streets with lots of businesses and few people. Small streets with the little shops crowded where the tuk tuks and the motorbikes vied for a two lane road. It was really a warm day here but it started out raining. Like most places here I’ve been the rain only goes for about 30 minutes and then you get blue skies.

So I walked and took some photographs and walked some more. Down streets here kids yelled hello at me and old people nodded and smiled. I’ve felt in both Vietnam and here in Cambodia this warmth and genuineness and openness that perhaps I did not see so much in busy San Francisco. Maybe did not see at all there.

I’ve read a few warning blog posts about people being mugged and robbed and drugged here and I was down this evening in the pub road district where the drunk travelers and backpackers have their court. One guy staggering almost in front of the tuk tuk and even the driver shook his head. I can see why people get scammed there if you go wandering around shit-faced down some of the streets I saw. I don’t think those people want to see Phnom Penh. They want the bar and food district that’s like other places they’ve been. The real Phnom Penh still is there though. You just need to get away from that part of the city and find the blocks where people work, laugh, and eat. Where the Khmer people live and the kids yell at you and smile. It all depends on what Cambodia you want to see. Its not all good and a Kymer told me there is a lot of poverty in their country. You can see it easily out walking. I saw the same in India. Dealing with it takes a little effort. Like even in Vietnam there are parts that I loved and laughed at and even cried a bit over. Here you can see it by a small lake where the poorer people live. Asking for handouts is in full effect and I feel bad for the people. There are many children there too but even with all that sadness the children find some bit of joy in the simple things of being a child. So somehow you have to take both and deal with it if you come to Asia. You will see it all. If you leave the touristy havens and see what Phnom Penh or Hanoi or wherever is all about. The areas where the people live and eat and children go to school.

Small streets where football is played and the small carts with produce and bbq wheel through. Those streets may be the most fabled in all of the places. Each time I’ve walked one I’ve enriched. Its a microcosm of life there as I’ve said before. You can see so much in how the day to day life of the person is played out. The local market. The coffee stand. The sandwich place. The laughter and smiling faces as people go by. I truly think that Cambodians want people to see their country. They’ve come a long way.

The main thing here though is getting around. And I mean that in the largest sense of the word. If you settle for bar districts and scams and wonder why you never saw Cambodia, I think I have an answer for you. I’ve wandered for 4 days in non touristy areas. Taken pictures of the city. Stopped for water. Got back to the room and planned out dinner. A local place? The best burger joint in town? Getting around in the tuk tuk is the way but there is also a tuk tuk of the heart and soul that will take you through Cambodia. Don’t miss some of it because its not where the tourists go.

You owe it to yourself to see the place. Breathe in the goods and bads. Look at what the city offers. Don’t be afraid. Just get around on foot or tuk tuk. I think  you will be enriched at the effort.

Traveling Forever and Visas too…

I’ll submit my passport and request for a 12 month retirement extension of stay visa this Sunday with the agent. It takes 7 to 10 days to get one and then I’m done with the last passport and visa thing required for here for a year. I can always come back to Cambodia from where I am for the next year. The LaLune hotel becomes my home base because I like this place and they treat me well.

But now, I’ll drink my beers in the room and watch BBC world news and wonder about the United States. Some of the things are so sad there. We seem stuck in a political climate of dysfunction and corruption. I hope that things change but my take is it will take longer than 2020 to set our ship right again. Then our allies will be our uncertain foes and our enemies will know how to take advantage of us.

That’s about it for now folks. Have yourselves a good evening. If you blog, write something. Create some content. Delete an ad or two that gets in the way. Like I’ve said before I want your words and I want them tied together.