My big mission of the day was to drop my visa extension application off at the immigration department. I read in the guidebook that it was a complicated process, so I went to Facebook for help. I found a couple of people who had wrote about doing it last year and it seemed quite simple. I sent a general question to the couchsurfers on facebook and they merely regurgitated everything in the Lonely Planet right back at me. I was quite irritated, because I had asked a clear question looking for real world information and all I got back were people telling me I had to go to an overpriced travel agent.
So, with that anger pushing me along, I left the hostel groggy first thing in the morning to find the bus to the airport. Sure there was a lot of traffic and the whole ordeal took about two hours, but I saved at least $20. The officer at the airport was friendly and only took $30 for the service. He told me I'd get my new visa and passport back in a week, which was fine for me. I was headed out to the coastal islands anyway. A travel agent would've done it faster, sure, but the independent route was quite painless and convenient enough for me.
The traffic back downtown was bad but the bus was comfortable and a nice teenager chatted with me the whole way. He told me about his previous job as a tuk tuk driver, which he failed at, because he wasn't dishonest enough. That explains a lot about running any successful business in Cambodia or otherwise.
Next mission: buy boat tickets for Jo and I to go to Siem Reap. Also very easy to do. After that, I needed a ticket to the beach. The next bus was leaving after lunch, so I had some halal noodles and entertained myself with the pro-Islam pamphlets on the tables. Did you know that a woman covering her hair is a sacred protection from impure men looking at her? The hijab frees a woman from relying on her beauty to get her through life. Wearing a veil ensures people respect her for her intelligence instead... Right, and remind me why so many woman are illiterate in the Islamic world again please? The pamphlet conveniently doesn't mention that fact.
OK so then it was time for the bus. I piled in with a bunch of other tourists who were going the same way. None of them were going to Kep, I don't know why, because I thought the other places were too noisy and crowded.
The one lane road leading south from Phnom Penh was slow and congested, with miles and miles of shanty towns, street peddlers and ramshackle roadside mini marts lining the way.
We got to Kampot too late for my transfer to Kep, so I waited an hour for the next one. The riverside was quite nice and I had some fancy lime and pepper (!!!) sorbet along with lemongrass and galangal ice cream, but when I got back to check for the bus, it still wasn't there. I finally had my dinner, a saucy baguette with chicken on the street.
When the bus actually did come, the driver suddenly decided to take a shower, with me waiting alone in the van in the dark for 20 minutes. Really. When he got back, he asked me where I was staying and I made something up from Lonely Planet. We drove right past it anyway. I was annoyed a little again, but it didn't matter. I just chatted with some Scots who were waiting for their bus to Phnom Penh. They told me where they stayed for $20, but there were a bunch of small places for less across the street. I said goodbye to David and his brother when their bus came and went to sleep with intense itching in the fingers of my left hand, ugh.
Nice ice cream