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.