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Destination: Home (via the other side of the world) Circumnavigating the globe (very quickly)

Rejected at the Vietnamese border!

CAMBODIA | Tuesday, 24 June 2008 | Views [1416]

So, as I am lagging behind on my journal entries, I will zip through what happened after I left North-Eastern Cambodia.

20th June 2008

I left Ban Lung, North-Eastern Cambodia, in the early morning heading back to the capital, Phnom Penh, directly by mini-bus (an 11 hour journey). I was squeezed in the backrow of the mini-bus with 3 other westerners...2 British girls, Sarah and Nic, and a German-American guy (forgotten his name now, so let's call him Nick).

The journey was not uneventful, as we managed to breakdown within the first few hours. The suspension gave out on a pot-holed road that took up 4 hours of our journey.

We blamed Sarah (who was travelling with Nic for 3 weeks around SE Asia) for our bad fortune as, within the short amount of time that she has been travelling, she has had some incredible bad luck with transportation - every one of her vehicles has broken down or crashed in some way, from her bus, to her motorbike, to her bicycle (as well as burning her leg badly on the exhaust of a motorbike).

En route, we took a short break at a rest stop, where I tried eating a fried/BBQ'd spider - interesting texture...crunchy...but not too bad. I opted not to have the cockroach today, I'll leave that for another day...I think one insect is my max for each day.

Well, the four of us made friends on the way to Phnom Penh. So when we arrived at Phnom Penh (after the minibus stranded us in the middle of the road, and the tuk-tuk then broke down when taking us to a hotel...Sarah!), we went out for dinner. I knew the town better than the other three as I had been here before, I took them to the main touristy strip of restaurants. For dinner we decided to experiment with a 'Happy' Pizza. A 'happy' pizza is one that is baked with marijuana for an added kick. There are a few restaurants that serve this up, and in fact their restaurants are some variation of 'Happy Pizza'. As I mentioned before, Phnom Penh is pretty much a lawless city, so the police turn a blind eye to this, even though the drugs are blatant.

Now, those of you that know me know that I am not experimental in the slightest when it comes to drugs. (Hell, my first full cigarette was only a week ago, and that was influenced by a monk!) But, I decided that, if I am to properly appreciate this round-the-world trip, I need to be open to new possibilities. So I threw myself into the deep-end with a "Very Happy" pizza. Well, to be honest, I could barely taste it. I only ate half of a very small pizza because I was not very hungry. But the marijuana kicked in after a couple of hours when we were playing pool at a nearby bar. And, well, I was just very giggly for the entire night, and then very sleepy later.

21st June 2008

I decided that I would spend today in Phnom Penh, and then leave with the girls the following day to Vietnam via the Mekong Delta. So today I finished off seeing the sights that I had not seen previously: the 'Killing Fields' and the Russian Market.\

The Killing Fields is where the prisoners of Tuol Sleng (S-21) (see previous post about this place) were executed. Obviously, it has a great deal of historical significance. But as an exhibition or remembrance, it is in my opinion quite unremarkable. It is quite simply a glass tower which is filled with excavated skulls and clothes of the victims. The graves simply look like shallow ditches, with nothing noticeable within them. The only other thing that struck me was a tree against which babies were smacked in order to kill them, and appeared to have a slightly red stain in one part.

After that, I went to the Russian Market which, after the Central Market, is the most popular market. It focuses more on fabrics and souvenir-type ornaments. After much searching, I decided to follow the lead of EW in Siem Reap and buy an opium pipe carved out of bone...obviously not for practical use, but rather as a decorative piece.

I met up with the others for dinner. As Nick had already eaten, I took the girls to a non-profit restaurant that is intended to teach street kids catering skills. The food was absolutely delicious, if a bit pricey.

22nd June 2008

Early morning start again. Woke up at 5.30am to catch a boat into Vietnam via the Mekong Delta (a 6 hour journey). Not many people were on the boat, just me, Sarah, Nic, and two Canadians called Thomas and Kieran.

Long story short: the official at the border rejected me because I small red stamp on my visa had half-faded. So I was forced to go all the way back to Phnom Penh on the same boat (another 6 hour journey) to sort out a new visa. Words cannot describe how dejected I felt. My head was just bowed for most of the return journey (but this time the boat was packed with people, so there was no space to spread out). It almost felt like failing an exam...I was left thinking: Where did I go wrong??

So, after an arduous journey, I arrived back in Phnom Penh. I shared a room with a guy with whom I did the return journey. Again, I took out a group of three people for dinner and, surprise, they wanted to go for a Happy Pizza. I had told myself that the previous Happy Pizza was the first and last one, just to get it out of my system. But then, I had not counted on being back in Phnom Penh at the time that I thought that. So, yet again, I had a 'Happy Pizza'. But this time, there were no giggles, just sleepiness. So I went to bed.

23rd June 2008

Arranged with my guesthouse for a new Vietnamese visa within 24 hours (price: $44). In order to get the visa within 24 hours, the visa will have to be a 15-day visa only, but I am told by the guesthouse that it can be extended. I also arranged transportation directly to Saigon, Vietnam, by bus for the following day.

24th June 2008

I arrived in Saigon...hoorah! A fairly uneventful 6 hour journey. On arrival I find that many of the guesthouses are more expensive than the guidebook indicated, so I eventually settle myself into $10 room.

Tags: happy pizza, killing fields, marijuana, opium pipe, russian market, visa

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