May 11, 2003

Back in Phnom Penh


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Greetings from Phnom Penh!

Well, I arrived back in Phnom Penh safely late yesterday afternoon with enough time to unpack, shower and put on some clean clothes before joining my friends for a fun time of visiting and playing games. If it seems like I've been out of contact a bit longer than expected, it's because I decided to take an extra week off at the end of the trip to see more in the country of Laos. I was originally planning to get back here a week ago, but I'm glad I was able to take the extra time to travel instead. I'm having a hard time getting my thoughts in order with so many experiences to report on, but I think I'll try to do a quick summary first, so here it is:

Time spent traveling: 30 days

Route: From Phnom Penh down the Mekong River to Chau Doc in Vietnam, to Cantho (also on the Mekong), to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), to Dalat in the southern hill country, to the beach resort of Nha Trang, to Hanoi with very brief stopovers in Hoi An and Hue on the way, to Halong Bay (beautiful islands in the sea where we slept on a boat), to the hill country of Northern Laos (minority tribes, waterfalls, cool climate, mountain scenery and kayaking), to Vientenne (the capital of Laos), to southern Laos (cheap bungalows, waterfalls and islands in the Mekong), and back south to Phnom Penh via the Mekong River.

Approximate total distance traveled: 6,600 km (about 4,100 miles, a little more than 1.5 times the driving distance from Washington DC to Los Angeles)

Modes of transportation used: 18 buses, 16 boats, 10 trucks (usually with bench seats and a camper-like cover over the back), 9 motorbikes, 7 tuk-tuks (a cross between a motorbike and a pickup), 2 car taxis, 2 vans, 2 bicycles, 1 jeep, 1 cyclo, 1 kayak, 1 train and 1 pair of shoes.

Cheapest lodging: $1 per night for riverfront bungalows in Laos (not counting the 2 nights in a row I slept on buses on the way to Hanoi or the 1 night I spent on the train on the way to Laos)

Most expensive lodging that I stayed in: $2.50 per person for AC and satellite TV with 4 people in a large room 1 block from the beach.

Number of 12.5 cent chocolate and other ice cream bars eaten in Vietnam: unknown

Overall it's been a great trip. I met lots of nice and interesting people along the way and saw some amazing scenery. I still need to sort through all the pictures I took and will also be writing about the trip in more detail.

Today I have enjoyed catching up on email, and this evening I'm getting together with friends for a small farewell party to say goodbye to some of the other volunteers who are leaving Cambodia this week. I'm running out of time for now so will write more later.

Bye for now,

Andrew

Posted by andrew on May 11, 2003
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