After one calm night spent in a beach-side treehouse, and two subsequent days spent day-drinking with other Island travelers — as we hid from the constant rain and power outages under the shelter of the only restaurant with a solar generator and WiFi — I woke up on the fourth day mid-afternoon feeling like death. I had a cold and an e-x-t-r-e-m-e hangover. I may or may not have vomited into a trash can in my room. Several times.
Monsoon season had finally taken a toll. I was sick, soaking wet, and so eager to get the hell out of there — out of the rain, away from the beach, to the nearest airport and out of the country — stat. (Even the chickens seemed bummed out.)
I jetted over to the aforementioned restaurant/bar with my luggage, hoping to grab a bite to eat before leaving the Island. My laptop and phone were both dead, so I had no clue what time it was. By the time it powered up, the clock read 3:55 — the last ferry of the day left at 4:00! I threw my things into my backpack, slung it over my shoulder, and ran across the beach to the dock — which, thanks to my luggage, was like hopping on wet sand with a very heavy peg leg.
By the time I reached the dock, my heart sank. They had already set the ferry loose and it was drifting away! I shouted, and the men on the docks yelled for the captain to stop. The ferry stopped, but they tried to bring it back in to no avail — it was still at least four feet away from the dock. The men threw my suitcase on board in a flash (kudos on those skillz) and told me I had to jump.
“I have to f***ing JUMP?!” For real? Over four feet of open water? With my heavy backpack?
Yeah, I had to jump. They sure as hell weren’t taking my luggage without me. I took a deep breath, saying a mental goodbye to the laptop in my backpack, and preparing to drown, and went for it… and miraculously, made it into the arms of a cute crew member.
The ferry ride back to the mainland was stormy and unsettling, on top of my deadly hangover. By the time we arrived back at Serendipity Beach, it was 6:00 PM. I felt like a wet cat and had no desire to stay at the beach one more night, so I rushed over to the nearest travel agency and booked a bus ticket to Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia and location of the nearest airport. Within an hour, I was on my way — along with Lou and Aidan, who serendipitously were on the same bus in transit to Bangkok!
Originally, I hadn’t wanted to come to Phnom Penh. Like, at all. I enjoyed the small community vibe in Siem Reap, and Phnom Penh — with a population of 2.2 million versus Siem Reap’s < 200,000 — seemed large and, to be honest, rather uninteresting. I mean, how can you beat the Lara Croft Tomb Raider Temple?? You can’t.
But I couldn’t get a flight out that day. I arrived in Phnom Penh at midnight and reluctantly (read: many frowns were had) booked a room at a guest house online from a nearby 24 hour restaurant, while my insistent Tuk-Tuk driver took a nap and waited for me outside. Eventually, I had to let the guy take me somewhere, so he dropped me off at a convenience store with a seating area and WiFi. I stayed there until about 6:30, and then wandered over to the guest house, checked in, and SLEPT in my lovely air-conditioned room nearly all day.
I will say that Phnom Penh wasn’t as unappealing as I had imagined — I would love to spend more time there when I go back to Cambodia. But I was still very, very ready to leave.
The next morning, I hailed a Tuk-Tuk, made my way to the Phnom Penh Airport (where they remind you what weapons you can’t bring in — just in case you didn’t know), and boarded my flight to Singapore!