Kampot to go!

Its Sunday in Kampot town! Tomorrow is my last day here and I walked over what is called the old bridge today to see the part of Kampot that is more rural across the bridge. I walked for about 3 hours and criss-crossed the area a few times on different roads and paths. It always feels good whether I decide to take photographs of what I see or not. Today I took lesser photographs. I then walked to this smaller bridge and walked back over to the old bridge and stopped at a mini-mart to get some ice cream and water. There is one in the city center area that I really like to visit because their water is always ice cold and the ice cream is not close to melting. After sitting for awhile at a table outside the store, its fun to watch others that either live or are traveling through. There are a lot of older folks like me here that I think have retired to Kampot to call it home. You can find a place to live here I think pretty easily.

If I were going to stay for longer periods than just a week, I would find a room I could rent for a few hundred dollars a month. I would not want an apartment because of the utilities and other charges. I would still eat all my meals out and also use free wifi at one of the many coffee shops or at the room. This is not what I want though. There is no desire to settle down for me. I just want to travel through the places albeit slowly and then leave. Just like I will leave on Tuesday for Sihanoukville. But my time even there is limited. On Thursday I fly to Siem Reap and begin a month there. That is going to be a highlight for me since it has so many historic sites to see and I would like to do one temple complex a week or something so will be asking the hotel to help me out.

I think Kampot has a bunch of stuff to recommend it if you are interested in finding a longer term place to stay. One of the things is that life is just slower here but there are things to do. Its a nice combination and the city is large enough to walk around if you want that kind of thing. The riverfront provides both the slowdown and the ability to see some beauty in the evenings. Another thing are the restaurants and pubs. If you want time out in the evenings, its easy to find a place to eat no matter the food you may look for. I’ve had some really good khmer food, Thai food, Chinese and tonight I will do a burger here. I think the food choices are another recommendation for Kampot. Another thing is while there is no airport directly adjacent getting to Phnom Penh is not so bad. It will take a few hours so if you are planning an international flight, you just factor in the need and let the guest house or hotel know your need. The Kampot Riverside Hotel, where I stay and will stay, will strive to help with transportation that you need.

Perhaps the final thing once you have the other things managed and are delighted by all the choices is the pace of life here as I mentioned on the slow down part. You can find a bench to sit on and read or take a walk or find hobbies here pretty easily. Many people enjoy an iced coffee in the mornings and peruse the phone. Cell services and wifi are pretty good here for the most part. There are some slowdowns even in the hotels but its kinda what you expect because its that way all over Cambodia really.

So, there you have it. If you are rushed to get to places, have a short time to find the 30 countries and the high level tourist places, Kampot may not be for you. If, on the other hand you have in mind a slower pace and perhaps want to get some time to really relax or just enjoy a different pace to life from a place like Phnom Penh this may be just what the travel agent ordered.

Give it some thought if you are considering a visit to Cambodia. You can do the Angkor Wat complexes and the historic sites here and there. How about a city that tempts you to slow down and stop counting passport stamps and entry visas? Kampot may be a thing to consider. Its an interesting and fun place and here’s the photo album just so you can get a feel of the place. There are other places to go as well. I will slowly see some of them. This time was about the city and surrounding areas for me and walking to see the city each day.

Kampot Notes, Photography, Fun!

I’ve been having a lot of fun here in Kampot lately wandering and taking photographs of buildings, markets, roundabout turns, and the riverside. The city is quite beautiful and sitting in the evenings with a few cold beers and just seeing the river and the lights on the bridges is. very peaceful and nice evening. Restaurants here are all over and offer international cuisine but I really like the Khmer food choices here the most. Just to get a sense of the diversity of the city, here is my photo album of Kampot!

Yesterday I wandered out the city road that eventually takes you out of the city and got to see how the city district transitions to more of a rural area. Fascinating views when you can walk out of a city and see things shift. I also walked to a few of the roundabouts which seem to be always decorated by statues or parks or even garden sites. Here there is one park area that starts at a market and runs blocks with sidewalks and small garden or open areas. Restaurants line the park areas and its also the tourist and backpacker area. Prices are very good for most things all over the city and smaller stores offer choices on water bottles, toiletry items, t shirts and clothing, souvenirs, and other stuff.

Initially I thought I would go to Ha Tien Vietnam but this is not to be due to an oversight perhaps my fault on the e-visa but there is no real time to fix it so I just will stay here for a few more days and then mini bus back to Sihanoukville and spend 2 days and leave for Siem Reap. I’ll be glad to leave Sihanoukville next week. Its kind of changing and not for the best. In Otres Village one hears the sounds of pile drivers and construction trucks all the through the night.

Photography Fun

There’s a sense when you read a lot of blogs and comments that photographers make that one must do certain things to become the photographer. The real truth is that there are no rules besides you can pay for your camera. The real thing is that it should be fun. If your camera drags you down or is so complex that you cannot actually do the things you want, then I don’t think you will use it for long.

Forget the whole method to doing it. If you wanna shoot your camera on automatic mode just do it. Gradually learn perhaps how aperture priority works which is what I use a lot on my Fujifilm X100F. I sometimes use manual focus if I am sitting still and zone focus on an area say 10m away or whatever. That’s a learning thing for me.

If you don’t want to edit RAW files, why shoot in RAW files at all? My argument is whatever slows you down will make things less fun. Take things in baby steps. If you never proclaim yourself as a photographer that is ok too. No one says to buy a camera you have to be one. I like to take pictures with my Fuji camera because its a fun and funky and retro style camera that is a great travelers camera. I think perhaps the best! I only shoot in JPEG and I use basic techniques like setting the camera to auto ISO in aperture priority mode when shooting busier scenes. I try to other times use an ISO setting which I think works but I will set the aperture for the amount of light from about F5.6 to F11. I think those are the sweet spots of the camera overall.

Finally if you camera gear weighs like 5 pounds and you are a walker like me in cities, you are gonna get tired. Tired of the weight and the backpack that drags you down. How about a smaller mirrorless camera like the Fuji X100F that can do your daily travel photography in a faster, easier way?

Getting Ready to Walk in the City…

Now its almost time to hit the road for some hours and end at a coffee shop for an iced coffee and people watch. Kampot is a fun city to just wander around and take photographs of things with no real regard for the things and just let the camera do the talking. Old buildings, fun roundabout turns, food, craft, and trade centers. It’s all here. Its another reason why I re-arranged my travel end of the year to get back here. I had thought I would hunker down in Phnom Penh for a home base but Kampot is much nicer for that. Its got both the small town feel plus a larger town environment.

Give it a shot sometime if you want a delightful, somewhat off the beaten track place with great food and friendly people and a whole bunch of nice places to stay.

My Sihanoukville 2018 Photo Album

Hi all. I’ve started my photo album for the month I spend in Sihanoukville. I’ll be wandering the beaches and the cities and villages around here. Here’s the start of the album. You will notice a lot of sunsets :-). My rule with the albums is that there are no rules. If you are looking for some kind of orderly progression of places, I’ve never done that. The camera is a discovery tool so you see things as I do.  Here’s the album! It will grow as I visit places. Look for a lot of ocean and small town stuff.

Otres Village and Sihanoukville – First Day Thoughts and times

Its actually my second day here in Sihanoukville. I got in later yesterday so walked around a bit to kind of get familiar with Otres Village and had a few chores to run. Had to find a place to top-up my SIM card and then a small market to get some needed supplies. After that it was getting kinda close to sunset so I decided to walk back to the beach because I have not seen an ocean sunset since leaving home. The sunsets at Otres Village are fantastic. Here is one for you to check out I took with the Fuji camera last night.

Just a beautiful evening and sunset! After the sunset I went for dinner to Pops Pizza which is slightly mis-named since it actually seems to be mostly a BBQ place which cooks the food out front. I had the large steak dinner which you get with Cole slaw and potatoes cooked on the grill and some cold Angkor Beer. I spent $7 on the dinner for everything!

Today is a brand new day here so I will be leaving by 10am or so to have a later breakfast here in the village. There are lots of restaurants around my bungalow so its pretty easy to find a place to eat and coffee will definitely taste good. No more free breakfast in the mornings.

Sihanoukville is growing and construction mostly funded by the Chinese is causing a lot of growing pains here. I don’t think the local people benefit too much from either the construction work or the new hotels and a lot of casinos that are going in. I talked with a Cambodian staying at my hotel and he was telling me that much of the change only benefits the top 1% of the people here and hardly any filters down to the folks that live here. Otres is still kind of a sleepy little beach village but the dirt roads and friendly locals I think will soon change. By 2020 this area will be just another tourist zone catering to rich Chinese tourists that want to spend time by the beach and not see the local sights. All that will go away.

Now it has an interesting and compelling group of tourists here that walk the town, eat, drink, and see the sunsets. A few younger guys pointed out where to get my SIM card topped up. Others walk the small village roads to and from the different beach locales. I will go walk the beach today I think and take off the shoes and let these old feet feel the sand and sea water. I don’t remember the last time I did that. I can stroll up the beach for miles in either direction because Otres blends into another beach.

So that’s my first take on Otres. A small and charming little village where the food is good and the beer is cold and the people are still friendly. Unfortunately I don’t see it remaining that way as time goes on and as my neighbor said so much has already changed with the construction here.

I’m glad I’m visiting now. Its good to see what Otres still looks like with the small town ocean village flavor and the local restaurants.

Time Drawing to a Close in Phnom Penh – only days left

I have one day left out of my 30 days here in Phnom Penh. I’m taking it a bit easy today and reading a bit and looking at my travel plans for next year in Malaysia. I need to flesh out those times a bit more after the initial 30 days in Kuala Lumpur. My basic plan is to head slowly north but also take in any places on the way. I’d end up by the Thai border at the end of the 90 day tourist visa in Malaysia. The area to the north around Penang and GeorgeTown look pretty good to me.

Once I cross over the border into Thailand I’ll head up to Bangkok and Chiang Mai for awhile and then fly to Phuket and Krabi for a week and then back. I have those tickets already booked and I have rooms for that trip. I don’t have any real sets of things in Thailand to get done either. I just know by June I need to be back in Bangkok to fly back to Phnom Penh and stay at the hotel here for a month or so while I arrange a Chinese tourist Visa. At some point I will book the round trip airfare from Phnom Penh to Beijing and then back by October so I can renew my retirement extension of stay here in Cambodia.

So, lots to try to define for next year even at some basic level. Since I travel so slowly the rooms I get area always for a month unless its a weekend or short getaway.

Other Stuff…

In the category of other stuff; I’ve met a number of people that are ex-pats now living in Phnom Penh long term. One lady that lives out by Siem Reap and some others when I’ve been eating or drinking downtown. The hotel here is good for meeting international folks as well. There is an interesting ebb and flow of people coming through that teach English work for a company here, or are just visiting.

I’ve had the FujiFilm X100F camera for a few days now and its really an easy camera to move around with. So much lighter and mobile than the XT2. Its size and weight make it really suited for travel photography. The last one I had wss really mistreated so I am determined to not put this one through the same weather rigors. If you’re looking for a camera that can be used for travel and a variety of other uses, the X100F is a great choice. Very powerful but all contained in a small and retro package that does not showcase the person too much. Hip shooting with the camera for the street is really good once you make some basic changes to the settings for aperture and ISO. I advise shooting on aperture priority and setting it to either F5.6 or F8 and forgetting it. Also set the auto ISO so you really do not have to worry about adjustments when you are on the move.

Finally, tomorrow I pack my backpack and then Tuesday morning make my way to the bus depot for my bus ride to Sihanoukville. All of this was planned and paid for months ago and I’m glad I do things this way. I had found the tickets and times much earlier and took care of booking the tickets. I’ll get in around noon to the bus station and make my way over to the Bungalow and be able to check out the town and beaches. I have a vision of slowing down by the beach, being able to work on my content for the story I am writing, and also doing my walks both on the roads that connect the different cities and beaches but also on the beaches themselves.

So there’s a few categories of things which have come up or that I decided I should capture and write about on the blog. I don’t know that I will write here again before I arrive in Sihanoukville on Tuesday.

Almost the weekend – Talks with family, places to still go and the Fuji X100F

I was able yesterday to pick up the Fujifilm X100F camera. I had really forgotten how ideal the little camera is for mobility. Combine the size with the wonderful fuji colors and its so much more for me. I am going to get the XT2 fixed but will be selling it to a friend in Vietnam. The size difference is significant for someone interested in small backpacks and daypacks and having a smaller footprint in my travels on buses and stuff. I read an interesting article and had commented on it before about the X100F being the 2018 travel camera. Primary among the things for me are its size and the fact by its included lens there is no desire or need to carry a whole bunch of other lens. You have a really nice camera that is self-contained. It has the beautiful film simulations and the wonderful retro yet functional look of the Fuji line.

So I am glad to have it back! In a way, even though it cost me some money, I am glad to have the camera back which gave me so many memorable trips and the one I picked up to learn on before. Since I am still learning the X100F I think is very nice for the novice photographer since its menu and options are easily found for the most part. I also have the manual in PDF format on my iPhone. I can always look up something with a few basic steps.

The other main thing with all this camera stuff is to find a camera shop that focuses on Fuji gear here in Phnom Penh. The owner is very accommodating and works to provide his customers with a great sales and post sales support environment. Since I am more or less living here, finding a place in my home base that will support my needs with the camera is very nice.

Last Weekend and Days…

Amazing that my last weekend is coming up here in Phnom Penh. I’ve had a wonderful time here and I think I got to see what I wanted including walking the streets with the camera, going to museums, parks, and palaces, and wandering the riverside eating and drinking. I probably spent a bit more money than Vietnam because I really enjoy the downtown part and restaurants. Since I don’t count or budget, its not a thing that stops me.

I had some breakfast here this morning and cooked my own over easy eggs which was fun. The hotel here is just a home to me in so many ways. I am exceedingly blessed and lucky to have found the La Lune Hotel and the wonderful folks that work here. Now since my favorite coffee stand is open again its time for some of her delicious iced latte and a few hours in the room before venturing out. I would like to find a small bag that could carry the camera and batteries and stuff so I will head over to the Central Market and wander around there later today.

The nice final thing was a 30 minute phone call with my daughter. I don’t blog much about family here but it was very nice to catch up with her. She is a unique individual who has her own life but sometimes still sounds like my little girl. It was nice catching up and then setting a regular time to call her. Things have not been so easy there for awhile but I think we got past some of the past tense things and moved on to her doing most of the talking and telling me about her life and asking whether I would ever return. I think she gets the reasons why I won’t.

To do all the calls and stuff though, its so much easier using a service instead of trying to do international calls on my SIM card. Most of my family does not do WhatsApp or Viber or whatever. So a service and platform is needed that bridges the gap. I use Google Voice on my iPhone and it now supports dialing without hangouts its truly a complete VOIP tool that can be used from laptop, tablet, or phone. I think the only real limit is you have to get the number in the states. Perhaps VPN will work to get the service; not sure. The real reason though to have it is the ease of voice mails and calls and texts and Voice will send you transcripts of messages and alert you to texts. The iPhone rings when I get a Voice call and the number is a US number. Maybe the last and greatest thing is its free. I can get the bank alerts and 2FA easily to it. But believe it or not AirBnb will not use it since its a VOIP number. I don’t use that service much. I don’t see the value when I can find the hotels I like on booking.com or Agoda. Maybe if you want a nicer condo or apartment or some kinda thing you use it. I’m interested in the cheaper places then what I see on Airbnb.

Closing this out

I kinda wanted to write a blog post like a daily activity log of what I do but the truth is since I am not a digital nomad and not on a year long gap year thing, none of those rules apply to me. I have no job to find a coffee shop to do or be concerned about. My days and my ideas belong to me. Its a wonderful thing to have the moments back.

Now its the morning in my hotel room with the iced latte and I’m considering the morning which stretches out before me. I have relatively few days left here and I accomplished what I set out. The Visa extension of stay, the touring around the city and its unique museums and palaces and the city streets and people. All have been so good for me. My next stop is by the beach so I will be able to work on my longer story content in the mornings with an iced coffee by the beach. Walking and investigating still takes primary focus for me so I will find places to investigate either along the beach or between different towns. I look at Sihanoukville as a different thing though so life will change and slow down by the ocean. Phnom Penh is a busy town, international in scope, lots of attractions and traffic in-between going and getting there.

I’ll close this out now and hope you all, dear readers, have a wonderful day or evening; wherever your timezone finds you.

The XT2 Camera and Replacements becomes the X100F camera again

So I’ve had the opportunity to contact the camera shop in Da Nang I bought the FujiFilm XT2 Camera from. Their initial answer is to return to Vietnam and take the camera in for an inspection. Not really possible nor wanted at this point. What I want is the warranty honored and to get the camera fixed or have the body replaced. I have only had the camera for a month for heaven’s sake!

I found the only Fuji dealer here in Phnom Penh and chatted with him on Facebook Messenger a bit. He will take the XT2 camera and get it fixed for me and then send it along to where I am or send back to the hotel and they will hold it for me until January. In the meantime, I am going to go back to the Fuji X100F camera. I had this camera before and I can get it for almost $500 less here. Its also a heck of a lot more portable and easy to carry. I will try to treat it better than getting it soaked in the rain storms. It takes excellent pictures and my first 6 months were spent with it. No complaints.

I know I cannot just leave here without a camera. Its a hobby but its more. Maybe an obsession for recording life on the streets, the monuments and people, and the urban sights I like to record. The other thing about it is that all my batteries just work with it too. That’s a huge thing since I have 3 replacement batteries. The final thing about it is the size of the camera as I mentioned before but it packs a lot of punch in use in its size. It is significantly smaller than the XT2 camera so it fits in a mobile lifestyle a bit better.

What I learned this time is that getting higher end camera gear repaired on the road is difficult no matter where you happen to go. With a smartphone, I would just go buy another iPhone 7 plus since I like that phone a lot. But the camera fulfills more of my desires and needs than a phone.

Why not just use the iPhone?

I heard that and thought it through. I don’t like taking pictures with the iPhone. Its just not the thing that satiates my desire to wander the cities with a small travel camera, record what I want, learn the camera and its film simulations, and feel that I am getting somewhat better. The iPhone just takes the photos and perhaps does a nice job. I don’t feel I learn anything when the phone camera does it all.

The second thing about just using the iPhone camera is storage. There is no removable storage from an iPhone. Images go into the apple photos album and then google photos uploads them for me. I cannot really manage the storage like I can with a SD card of images. I much prefer having a dedicated storage card to hold images and I have multiple storage cards to use as well.

So now I am without a camera since the XT2 will not function reliably. I had a friend in Vietnam call the photo shop as well and talk to them. Nothing really gained with that besides the rather stupid idea that I would fly back to Hanoi or Saigon.

Once I get the XT camera back in a month or three I will then decide what to do. I don’t want or need two cameras. I have a feeling that the XT2 will never be trusted again. What’s to stop it from having another issue with the shutter button? This is not some isolated issue either folks. Many, many people have reported the issue and the only fix is sending it back for repair. Of course that is easier if you happen to be in the US or Japan or perhaps Singapore.

So ends the camera voyage and while I’m frustrated I kind of acknowledge its the way of things that are digital. Laptops, cameras, phones. They all can stop and are prone to being damaged with travel. I know I will never buy some DSLR with 5 lens. I know I will never do RAW file editing. There are things I just don’t need on my travels. But there is one thing I do need and that’s a working camera. I’ll fix this on Wednesday morning first thing.

FujiFilm XT2 Camera Woes – A decision reached and steps taken

I recently started having problems with my FujiFilm XT2 camera. Basically, its a well known problem with the shutter button where it gets sticky or just gets stuck. It was getting that way for awhile so I started reading about the problem. Then I started searching local ex-pat fora for other fuji photographers that may be haunting them. I was given the name of a reputable shop.

I found the only Fuji reseller and service person in Phnom Penh yesterday and he worked on the camera for me for an hour and his appraisal is that it needs to be serviced. This would mean 3 to 5 weeks with no camera to speak of. No learning for me. I just don’t think I can do it. I am stuck in forever learning mode walking and having the camera with me.

His recommendation was to leave the body with him and get it serviced which means a new top cover unit where the button sits. That takes time. He further offered to sell me a new XT3 body which he will get today and at a discount. He will take the XT2 and get it serviced for me and return to either my hotel here or on the road where I am. The XT3 is the brand new camera body that Fuji just released in September. But before that I took another tack. I decided to try some DIY repairs. I tried the following things in roughly the order below:

  1. Toothbrush to clean. I tried a toothbrush to remove any grit or crap within the housing. While this worked for awhile the button still did not feel normal to the touch and would auto focus at the merest touch. Yesterday it locked completely down and would not release.
  2. Rubbing Alcohol and Q-tips. I did not try this although there is a pharmacy down the street and I could have gotten both there. I asked a Khmer friend that works at the hotel to accompany me just in case. At the last moment I bailed on this for the night and moved on.
  3. Tap water. I believed and I still believe that the problem is with grit, sweat, or crap from my backpack that got embedded in the housing and impacted the button. So given that the XT2 camera is water resistant, I tried some tap water to loosen any crap. I removed the battery, SD card, and lens and let water flow down on the shutter switch. It immediately loosened up and now it feels like when I bought it. Did it fix it? I don’t know.
  4. Service Warranty Repair. This will take weeks to a month to get done. I would be without a camera whatsoever except my iPhone camera. The shop would send me the camera back fixed on the road wherever I am. This led me to the final point below.
  5. Upgrade the body to the XT3. I can upgrade to the XT3 body tonight at the dealer and give the XT2 to him to have fixed and then send to me. It will cost me yet more money but seriously this is my only hobby on the road that goes with me walking my daily walks. The compelling thing though is that what do I get with the upgrade? A person on twitter does not feel its a compelling upgrade if I am not going to shoot video. I don’t do video and am after a camera for traveling that is also flexible, sturdy, and weather resistant. Either the XT2 or XT3 support that.

So I reached the decision point in this little story. What to do? Upgrade to the latest and spend the money which is not a big deal to me. Give the XT2 and not have a camera for weeks maybe months? Not good. I cannot just live with the iPhone camera. It does not satisfy me. Keep the XT2 until it starts doing the same thing again in some place like Siem Reap where the photography becomes important?

Here is what I decided to do and it is not a function of money or quality.

I am keeping the XT2 and not buying the XT3 camera body. If it fails or locks up again so be it. I also dropped the camera shop in Da Nang Vietnam a e-mail and asked them to provide a new body since I have only had the camera for a month and change. The shutter button I think is my own doing with some treatment or sweat with stuff in my backpack getting embedded. No matter, I can get it fixed. I would rather get a new XT2 body at some point down the road from the camera shop in Da Nang. I believe they will offer that.

This way also I do not spend money on a thing with questionable value that would replace a thing that now works okay. Maybe there is no right decision folks. Damned if I do or don’t. But I like the XT2 camera a lot. I just bought this camera on the recommendations of a few Fuji photographers who told me it was worthwhile for the type of travel I do. And it has been.

An interesting quest I think with a final decision which I feel good about. Lets see what happens down the road. Mistakes are human. Cameras can be fixed or replaced later. I believe I solved the problem. Refer to the mistake rule above 🙂

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.

Wandering Phnom Penh – life, money, and time

Another day wraps up for me. Its been a good two days learning about this fascinating and busy city. I walked today with almost a destination in mind. I wished to see the Olympic Stadium but more wanted it as a landmark so I can get to other places walking and know how far it is to get home.

I have lots of places to see and I feel like the city is this huge area of wonderful sights still unexplored. I also have a few things I have to get done. One is I need a haircut. I found a place which does them for $4.50 and includes a beard trim. Its past the Olympic Stadium. The second thing next week is I have to get my visa extended to a year multiple entry here. That will take them a few days to get done and its costs $290 for the year. Once I have the year extension, things become more gradual the remainder of my stay. Its day by day seeing the city, finding restaurants at night, and doing the usual photography things.

Since I like wandering cities and seeing people doing their stuff, my initial photographs of Phnom Penh are city and street shots. I’ll be going to some of the tourist things next week and perhaps then the National Museum. Here’s the start of my photo album for Phnom Penh.

I also am going to work on sharing out all the photo albums from Vietnam pretty soon. I have numerous albums of the places and things I saw there.

Changing of the Routine Too…

My routine now has changed since the hotel serves free breakfast every day. Now I get up earlier and have breakfast up on the roof of the hotel and see Phnom Penh every morning. I get a few cups of coffee and enjoy the time relaxing in the cool mornings. Then back to my room for a few hours of relaxing and reading or watching news. By 11am I’m out the door and usually am back by 2pm. Sometimes I decide after breakfast some direction I want to walk. The city though is there for me to go anywhere I like. I don’t feel cautious or uncomfortable walking any of the cities. I understand how the traffic works and its pretty evident how busy the city is.

By about 1pm its time for some water for me. Today I stopped at the City Mall and set on a bench and this young girl came up and told me hello. The mall is an interesting place. Kind of a mix of a classic mall and the asian markets you may know. I went in because it has a very nice grocery store that I wanted to see. That’s where I got the bottle of water.

Then I kinda decide that I should head back or see something else or whatever it is that strikes my fancy. After awhile I’m back to the room and tend to relax reading and writing until about 6pm when its dinner time. I find a new restaurant because at this point they are all new. Tonight its Cambodian BBQ down the street.

Money and Time

Now since I don’t buy breakfast, my expenses have dropped a bit I think. I am spending about $4.50 a night for dinner with beers. I don’t really care what the cost is but its fun to see what the food costs and that everyone will take US dollars. I normally carry $20 and some singles and local money but when I pay in local money I get a combination of currencies back. They will pay me in US dollars an Riel back so I have to stop and think what the combination is and what I am getting. I guess for the small things like a bottle of water for $0.40 and I pay a dollar, I don’t really care. I will have to exchange a $100 bill for smaller bills at the hotel. I won’t carry that much since its not needed or necessary here.

Time has changed to. I think its slowed down. I feel like I have more time to spend on things here in Cambodia. I will stay here longer but also will travel out of Cambodia once I have the annual visa. I realized early on I needed a home base of sorts that had really good visas for retired people. I was considering the time being on the road now for 7 months. Nothing seems the same time wise. It used to be a march of schedules and tasks and milestones. I don’t have those any longer. That feels pretty good!

So maybe that brings you up to date for a day on the life of me. I have no complaints. I travel slow. I stay longer. I go where I want. How could I complain there?