Many of my friends and coworkers wondered where I disappeared to when I was unreachable for ten full days. I looked at them, straight-faced with a genuine smile, and answered, “Cambodia.”
CAMBODIA?! No one believed me or understood why. It was an unforgettable experience, and I am so grateful we had the ability to take time off as a family.
It’s quite simple: my stepmom grew up in the country, and her family still lives in Cambodia. I had never been outside the North America / island area south of us. So it was insane to spend two full travel days taking THREE plane rides over! It was a new experience.
Tiny Time Traveler
We made a deal that I would get the window seat on the plane rides to Cambodia, and my stepmom would get the window seat on the plane rides home. My dad always got the aisle seat.
I got some pretty cool shots of the clouds, which sometimes looked like snow. Other times, the sun was so bright and the plane wing was so close that it looked like sand!
United Airlines had a pretty cool offline app that gave us flight updates, such as how close we were to our destination, how far we had traveled, how much time was left, wind speed, ground speed, and altitude!
Coast to Coast
We flew from Orlando to San Francisco on our first travel day. I’d never been to California! We didn’t get to explore, but we at least got to hang out in the airport and take some photos. Our time traveling journey began: we were already 3 hours behind our Eastern Standard Time.
From California, we traveled over allll this water to Seoul, South Korea. That was the scariest flight, hands-down. It was a 15-hour flight, there was A LOT of turbulence. I kept myself busy by reading, listening to a few podcasts, writing (typing a few blog posts on my iPod – I got so far ahead!), and watching a movie.
I tried sleeping, but didn’t have much luck. The bumps and the shakes in the plane had my mind visiting worst-case scenarios. I’d wake up, grabbing my armrests for dear life, refusing to let go.
I tried to distract myself by watching Cheaper by the Dozen, which was showing on all screens (these were shared screens as opposed to single seat screens), but no luck.
There was a short layover in that airport. Now we were 13 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time. At this point, I’d saved four clocks on my iPod so I could keep track of FL, CA, South Korea, and Cambodia times.
There was a Korea Traditional Culture Center inside the airport.
This gave us a taste of the Korean culture with some live music, educational programs, craft workshops, and art displays. This was a beautiful way to showcase the culture of South Korea.
Our final flight was about 5-6 hours from South Korea to Cambodia. I watched Guardians of the Galaxy 2 – that was an experience in itself. I’d seen the movie in theaters, but watching it on a plane while the superheroes were in their own spaceship made it feel like it was really happening.
We ate some chicken, rice and tea on the plane. Check out the tiny tea cup!
Finally…three plane rides later, we landed in Cambodia! We were 11 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time, so boy, were we time travelers!
Arriving in Cambodia
It was Sunday night in Cambodian time (Sunday morning in Florida time). We traveled nearly 25 hours on the planes, so we were exhausted by the time we got there!
We got our visas (a little questionable), passed customs (phew), and then grabbed our luggage.
Luckily, we met a nice taxi driver at the airport, Sophal, and he wound up being a tremendous help to us during our entire stay!
It was almost 11 p.m. when we were driving to our hotel. The streets were quiet. There were a few people on motobikes – motorized bikes and scooters that are very popular in the country.
We stayed at the NagaWorld Hotel, a beautiful, five-star hotel with live entertainment, a few restaurants, and a casino. It was an energy-efficient hotel, so the hot shower water turned cold after 5 minutes or so. The food was great! We had plenty of big, buffet breakfasts and other delectables.
What I was not prepared for: ALL. THE. STARES. Hundreds of people…not peering, not being inconspicuous. Blatantly STARING at us as if we were from the planet Mars.
I quickly learned that people were not being rude. They were just curious, and wondering what we were doing there. When we engaged with them, we could make the Cambodians laugh and smile and relax a little bit. But it was very strange (and I never really got used to it) to be stared at, stared down, and flat out looked at. I hate attention, and I would rather blend in while on vacation.
We spent a week in Cambodia, so we took a TON of photos, spent time with my stepmom’s family (the in-laws!), and explored religious monuments.
Stay tuned…there are plenty more stories to come in the next Cambodia travel feature.