05 May 2012

Amphibious Forests and Endangered Dolphins

(Note to the reader:  I had many photographs that I took for this part of the trip, but I've tried loading them three times now and every time it failed.  I've taken it as a sign.)

My goal this trip is not to backtrack.  If I make it to any city I have to be able to continue on from their. When I was figuring out how to continue on from Cambodia to my next destination, I had a tip-off from a dear friend that said go to 4000 Islands.  

If you look at a map of Cambodia there are not many main roads, and to get from where I was to where I wanted to go takes about 12 hours (So I had herd).  Even though they are the main highways, they are shared with school kids, bikes, chickens, cows, tractors, tuktuks, motorbikes, cars, buses, and trucks, and are sometimes made of dirt.  This is why there are no lines marking where to drive, because it doesn't matter where you are as long as you share it appropriately with others.

I looked up a couple other blogs that described the trip from Siem Reap to 4000 Islands.  Both sources gave the exact same story; Shoved in a little van carrying too many people with bags falling on you during the trip that is supposedly takes 6 hours that actually takes 12, which makes you late to the boarder that shuts down at 5 and forces you to pay "stamping fees" (aka bribes) for anyone that was western.  I thought, "okay, because i know what to expect this will not be so bad."  I bought the ticket and was up and ready to leave at 5 in the morning to find myself taken from a van to a roomy bus with air conditioning.  I guess right when I started to think I knew what to expect, everything had changed.

Now, this is the part where I have to remind myself to be careful what I think of.  Everything I had prepared myself for seemed to have disappeared, and I had a very distinct thought go through my head which was 'the only thing that could go wrong is if the bus broke down.'  Surly enough the bus rolled to a stop after half an hour and was broken beyond repair.

Even though most people would see this as a horrible event, I received something special from it.  While waiting for a new bus to come pick us up, I met a girl also traveling alone that I have now been on the road with her for the last week.  It been a wonderful surprise.

Our group arrived at 4000 island at 8 pm, so I had officially been travelling for 16 hours.  I had gone from van, to bus, to bus, to bus, to truck, to boat, and was now going to walk to my pre-booked hostel. After walking 20 mins in the direction it was, it turned out to be another 5 Km more.  I admitted defeat and chose the nearest bungalow in site.  I spent most the night holding my headlamp in fright from all the critters I was sharing my room with.  It was not a good night for sleeping.

But soon enough the morning came and its been a beautiful trip ever since.  I had made a goal on the first day of spring to 'Find easy solutions for whatever I want to happen,' and that is exactly what I have been doing.   Its not every day you get to see a floating forest and share time with endangered dolphins.

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