After several days (or maybe a week, it’s hard to tell when the days flew by) I left Koh Rong Island in Cambodia and prepared for a tumultuous ferry ride inland. Being a little motion sensitive I picked up some motion sickness pills, boarded the ferry and promptly fell asleep on my backpack at the top of the ferry.
I came to, drenched and drained, a storm was in full force, the boat was rocking about, and I had no accommodation booked inland with no idea of where to go. Sometimes, it rains in paradise. At this point, after five months of travel, I fancied myself a bit of an expert at going with the flow; I had this backpacking thing down pat. I thought ‘I’ll be fine’.
I found a 'moto' driver on the pier, bartered his fare price from $3 down to $2 (yes, I negotiated every dollar) and asked him to drop me at some accommodation. Wherever he had brought me to had a couple of restaurants, budget hotels, an internet café - it was all I needed, really.
There’s something about long term backpacking that just helps us to appreciate the little things. The motel was basic (probably what most people would call derelict) but I still remember the sheer overwhelming relief of having my own room, a hot shower and a fluffy towel, I even had an old cathode ray television. A couple in the room above were having a heated argument that was eventually drowned out by the storm as it drew closer and closer, eventually, it struck the powerlines right outside my room with the most deafening bang I have ever heard in my life. Just like that my TV was out. Easy come, easy go.
As soon as the storm passed I paddled through the flooded streets, and found a little launderette/travel agency/someone’s home where a small boy of 5 or 6 very carefully wrote me a bus ticket in English to Phnom Penh and to my flight home.
It’s funny the travel memories that leave the biggest impression. It wasn’t an amazing experience; I learnt nothing new and met no one interesting. It was just another day on the road, similar to all the days before it in the way that each day was completely unique. I was in the last days of my backpacking trip around Southeast Asia. They were days of lasts and as such, I absorbed as much detail of the region as I possibly could. Who knew when I would be back?
They were also days of reflection. I had changed so vastly and slowly over those 5 months of solo travel that I never noticed it. When I first arrived on the backpacking trail everyone seemed so worldly whereas I had no idea what I was doing. I never realised that in that time, I had become the experienced backpacker.
I also noticed that since backpacking was such a far step away from the comforts I was used to at home, that I had travelled so far out of my comfort zone, that this new zone was my new comfort zone. I had new respect for myself – I knew I could take on the world and I would be OK.
I also knew I wanted to do it all over again.
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