A bumpy, uncomfortable 8 hour bus ride to Kratie, Cambodia in the hot part of the day, during the heat of high, dry season seems like it couldn’t possibly be worse.
And then the air-con stops less than an hour into the trip.
And the windows don’t open.
For 7 more hours (actually, closer to 8… a bus journey’s length of time is ALWAYS longer than quoted in Asia), I sat in the stifling, stinking heat of an overfilled, overheated long-distance bus.
At every rest stop, the passengers would pile out of the bus, into a reprieve of what felt like fresh air (and on any other day, would seem unbearably warm and humid). I, and the other passengers, gathered bottles of water, and fruit, and anything that could possibly cool down on the continued journey ahead.
When the oven, I mean bus, finally arrived to the destination, I had never been more thankful for the end of a trip.
Would I do it again? It hurts me to think about. But I think, yes.
While in Kratie, I biked for miles with two new-found friends on the Mekong Discovery Trail, to a tiny island in the middle of the river. On that island, we toured the irrigation dig and farm plots, advances in the community designed to improve the lives of the inhabitants. We stayed with a local family, a teacher and his wife and kids, and slept on the floor, eating traditional Khmer food.
One of the local guys took us three foreigners out in a small boat to the middle of the Mekong, and cut the small engine. While we drifted, and wondered what was going on, I experienced one of the most magical sights I could ever imagine in my wildest dreams.
A few meters away, the river’s surface was broken by a large, shiny, pale surface. What is it?
Suddenly, the river around us was alive.
A few families of rare freshwater dolphins were playing and jumping and surfacing all around the tiny boat in which we had arrived.
The four of us sat silent, mesmerized by the magic of the amazing animals.
We had been separate, but now were suddenly united by the experience of the deep beauty of life, and the profound calm.
The only sound was the lapping of the water against the small wooden boat, and the combined breaths of the people and the dolphins.
What’s been your most amazing travel experience?