Arriving in Siem Reap.
Disclaimer: this post is pretty messy, I don’t have the motivation to be gramatically correct today.
By the time we had made it through Hong Kong, Thailand, Laos, and Vietnam, a significant amount of time had passed, as well as midterms, finals, flights and overnight trains. I had been a fount of energy throughout all of this, and my excitement about exploring new places (paired with my constantly-refilling fuel tank of coffee) kept me going full throttle. This was particularly impressive considering we would wake up at 7-9am or so every day to make the most out of our limited time in each place, but we would also end up staying out well into the night, meeting backpackers and having wonderful conversations.
However, my bubbling source of energy died out by the time we reached Cambodia. I call this section of the trip, “hitting my runner’s wall.” This was fueled in part by a particularly late night right before hopping on a plane, as well as the fact that we had to say goodbye to one of our travel companions, as he was not accompanying us to Cambodia.
While I am glad that this lapse in my enthusiasm didn’t hit sooner, it still was an unfortunate time to hit.
The main reason for this was our staying at Mad Monkey Hostel, a haven for young backpackers looking to party and to meet people. The hostel had a pool, and a rooftop bar, and awesome street art.
We ran into a bit of a hiccup upon our arrival. After taking a tuktuk from the airport to the hostel (which was a bit difficult to find, since the entrance looked like it was a sketchy alleyway), the front desk told us there had been a booking mistake, and instead of having 1 four-person room for us, we were going to be split up into three rooms: two of us in one room, and then two of us split up on our own.
By this point, I felt pretty confident in my friend-making abilities, and with such positive hostel experiences behind me, I felt safe about sharing a room with strangers. This confidence was heightened by the fact that this hostel was extremely popular with young travelers who had similar ambitions as myself. Therefore, I volunteered to be in one of the rooms where I’d have to share with three strangers.
The person working the front desk walked me to my room to show me which bed was mine. However, when he unlocked the door for me, there were five old men taking up all of the beds. The older men didn’t speak any English, and they were all wearing tighty-whities. Their state of dress and their…dampness… suggested they were winding down after a day of swimming.
The person working the front desk told me to step outside while he spoke to the room’s current residents.
Apparently, some of these men were staying in the hostel room without paying, so the hostel staff had to deal with kicking them out. The employee was very sympathetic to me, and he apologized and told me he would change out all of the linens for me, since the ones that had been intended for me were now soaked wet and dirty.
One of my friends and I asked the front desk employee if it would be ok if we just shared a bed. After all, the room that she stayed in had much more inviting roommates, young backpackers from S. Korea and Germany who seemed very friendly. The front desk employee said that it was fine, so I ended up just sharing the bed for the nights.
This came back to bite us later, because one of the hostel owners began to scream at us because she assumed one of us was sleeping there without paying. At this point, I was more asleep than awake, and my communication skills were not at full capacity. We finally were able to convince the woman that I had in fact paid, after showing her my key and trying to get the point across that I was sleeping in the wrong room because the men made me feel uncomfortable. Definitely one of the most difficult moments I had with the language barrier in Asia.