60 hours on airplanes, 35 hours at airports, 22 hours on buses, 4 hours in a taxi, 3 hours by tuk-tuk, 2 hours on boats. All for a 1 hour date walking on the beach with a sore bum!
So you'll find me here,
when it all goes wrong,
and I need to escape to a place I belong,
and it's all I need,
just to close my eyes,
and imagine here , and stay...
for one more day.
From "One More Day" - Samii Jenkins
Koh Ru Nov '12
Guitar - Pedro Neto
A nasty cut on my foot, which flooded the new bathroom with blood, ended up getting infected. I refused the offer from the boat driver, San, who wanted to take me back to the hospital on the mainland. I hated being out of commission but at least I didn't have to leave the island. I listened to my boss and the islanders who all told me I should stay off of my foot and rest for the next three days. Hard to do when I love working there so much. But at least I just stayed on the patio and watched the ocean all day or read. Beats a depressing hospital any day.
Once the infection got a little better I was back to work, but my foot was in bad shape and so was my head from all the antibiotics. I wasn't the same person for the next week. Luckily an old friend, one of the cleaning girls, took great care of me. Cleaning my foot three times a day, tiger balm massages, and many other Cambodian healing remedies. I couldn't help but fall a little bit in love with the cleaning girl, (not to be confused with the Girl) she was taking care of me so much. I spent most of my time with the cleaning girl and felt guilty about saying things to the Girl and then turning around and getting remedies from the cleaning girl.
The last three days on the island were spent sick with a fever, a bum foot, and a heart that didn't feel at peace. They were the worst three days of my life. But in some ways, the best. Right before I left for the mainland, the Girl called me back into the kitchen. "Eric, when you come back you be a good person again and take me home in your backpack?" I immediately was happy again. My heart was lifted, I felt like a "good person" again already. The problem was the next two months I couldn't get the Girl out of my head. To make it worse we were "joking" on facebook and although the Girl speaks great English, her writing can be very misleading and confusing.
I was now convinced that those hookers in Vietnam were really angels in disguise. If it wasn't for them I would have spent the whole month travelling around Vietnam and would have never gone back to the island in Cambodia. I would have never realized my feelings for the Girl on the island. I had to do something about how I felt. I couldn't ask the Girl on facebook for a date, I couldn't call her. I only had one option: travel out to Koh Ru as soon as possible.
"The winner never gives up, never" - I of the Sun
26 Feb 2013
Leg 1: My house-(MIA)Miami, FL - Rowed my dinghy from my sailboat to the dock, walked to the gym for a workout and to shower and iron clothes, caught the 249 bus to the Metrorail, took the Orange Line to MIA.
Leg 2: Miami, FL(MIA)-Atlanta, GA(ATL) - Jumpseated on Delta Airlines to Atlanta, no problems.
Leg 3: Atlanta, GA(ATL)-Tokyo, Japan(NRT) - Thought it would be no problem getting on, wrong! Missed flight by 2 people! THE WINNER NEVER QUITS...back to Terminal B from Terminal F after arriving at Terminal A! If you've never been to Atlanta, trust me this is a long way!
Leg 4: Atlanta, GA(ATL)-Columbus, OH(CMH) - Decided to go to plan "B". Back to my hometown and family. Cost: $0.00
27 Feb 2013
Leg 5: Columbus, OH(CMH)-Washington D.C.(IAD) - No problem, although I was freezing! Didn't bring any warm clothes!
Leg 6: Washington D.C.(IAD)-Tokyo, Japan(NRT) - Had a full middle row of seats (4) to myself on a United B-747, very comfortable, long flight!
28 Feb 2013
Leg 7: Tokyo, Japan(NRT)-Bangkok, Thailand(BKK) - Always a deceivingly long flight. 7 hours! Another United B-747
Arrived in Bangkok at 23:55 on the 28th of Feb, but by the time I was out of the airport it was the first day of March. I met a Swedish girl, Lisa, at the taxi stand and asked her if she wanted to split a taxi to Th Khao San, the backpackers area of BKK. She agreed and we found a hostel to split as well. We walked around Khao San and Rambuttri streets and we laughed about past travels while enjoying our road Changs(my favorite beer). I spent the next two days hanging out with Lisa and her brothers who arrived the next day. Bowling at the 8 story MBK shopping mall was the highlight of our time together. What else do you do on Election Day in BKK when Khao San is all but shut down due to no alcohol being allowed in the whole city for two days!
We said our goodbyes the next day and I had that feeling you always get after meeting really cool people and then all the sudden realizing you are alone. It's not a great feeling but I've come to embrace it. The only reason we have that empty feeling is because you have just had some great times with amazing people. And the good thing about traveling is you know the next group of amazing people or new adventure is waiting just around the corner.
You might wonder why did I not head straight for the island once I got to BKK. Well it's not an easy town to leave. Maybe it was a little bit of fear. Fear of what the Girl would say. Self doubts about settling down with someone forever at this point in my life. Maybe it was the beautiful Swedish girl! Whatever it was, BKK held me for a few more days in it's humid grip like always.
Cost: ??? haha
Leg 8: Bangkok, Thailand - Sihanoukville, Cambodia - Finally I'm on a bus toward my goal. Excited and nervous at the same time. What would she say. If she said no, I wouldn't have to worry about anything. I asked what I wanted to know and found out the answer. Life doesn't always give you the answer you want to hear, but it doesn't mean it's the end of the world either. Of course I didn't want her to say no. No one likes to be rejected. But if she said yes, then what? I would have to change my life big time. Could I handle it? Am I ready to face all the challenges involved in dating a girl half way around the world. So many questions running through my head, the closer I get to the island, the faster my head is turning.
After 10 hours we finally get to the border, the first time I've ever crossed at Koh Kong, normally going through Poipet from Thailand. I paid 1350 baht for the bus and an overnight stay in Koh Kong due to there being no buses going all the way to Sihanoukville until the morning. A ridiculous price but money was not an issue on this trip. I had one goal, get to Koh Ru as soon as possible. I threw bargaining, or even shopping around, out the window. I've been around these parts enough not to get completely ripped off, and also enough to know sometimes it's not worth your time or breath looking or arguing over a few baht, riel, or dollars.
At the border, the guards scammed us all into paying 1200 baht (40USD) for a visa. Their reason, I did not care, nor did I bother to tell the other 4 guys on my bus that we were getting scammed. That could have cost me time, and pointless arguing.
Leg 9: Koh Kong-Sihanoukville - Anyway, I heard of 3 guys going to Sihanoukville that night by taxi and for 600 baht more I could ride with them. I said I would pay it. Our border crossing "guide" came back and said that the guys didn't want to have four people in the car. I saw the guys in line for their passports to be stamped so I told my "guide" loud enough for them to hear to "tell them that I was skinny". I made it seem like a joke, and when they didn't bite, I started asking about a moto to Sihanoukville. Now this caught their attention.
'Whoa, man, you know how long a moto to Sihanoukville would take. Like six hours on that thing, you couldn't do it," The middle aged man said in an Aussie accent. I replied with confidence and honesty: "I've been on a moto for six hours in one day before and I know how bad it hurts. I'm desperate right now, I'll do it." The guys felt bad and agreed to let me go. THE WINNER NEVER QUITS...
I was smiling to myself and at the same time hoping this ride would go really quick. Three middle-aged Aussie guys got into the car smelling horrible. I'm used to traveling with people who don't wear deodorant, but these guys just had a nasty smell to them. It didn't help I was squished between two in the middle of the backseat with an extremely sore behind and no room to rearrange my position for 4 hours. I was thankful they had pity on me and let me join them in the taxi, but when they starting mentioning they owned girly bars in Sihanoukville, I wanted out fast. Not that I'm a saint or one to judge, but well, let's just say they were not my type. I know a lot of girls who hate the word "moist" and when I was told one of their bars had that same name it fit their reputations well. I couldn't get out of the car fast enough as I made my way to the usual hostel I stay in Sihanoukville.
Cost: 3150 Baht (105USD) Way, way, way, too much!!!
Leg 10: Sihanoukville-Koh Ru - This was the day I had been waiting for. Two months of wondering were about to come to an end. Before catching the boat I ate some toasties at Sessions bar on the beach, a tradition I stole from two great guys, Lewis and Charlie. I met up with a bunch of people who worked on the island at the dock and I immediately felt a million times better. It's hard being alone with all those thoughts driving you crazy. I got to the island and said hello to everyone saving the Girl for last. I told her I only had one day, and asked if we could go for a walk on the beach when she got done with work.
As usual there was someone else tagging along. Usually it is one of her friends from the kitchen. This time it was honestly the cleaning girl! It was a little awkward but luckily the cleaning girl speaks very little English. So anyway, I asked the Girl if she wanted to be my girlfriend and move back to Miami and live on my sailboat with me someday. She said yes and we had a nice chat about future plans while walking down the beach. I knew she would be working that night but I asked her on a date at 0630 the next morning before she had to work again. I partied with all my old friends from the island that night and went to bed in one of the dorms excited for the next morning.
05 Mar 2013
Leg 11: Koh Ru-Sihanoukville - I woke up at 0600, brushed my teeth, and was enjoying being the only one awake while anxiously awaiting the Girl to come down to the beach for our date. I was enjoying the sunrise and taking pictures but as I watched the clock hands roll past 0630 I started to wonder where she was. I started to clean the bar/patio to give my mind something else to think about. 45 minutes later she came out and apologized for sleeping in. We laughed it off and set off along the beach on our first "date". It went great.
As she went to prepare the kitchen for breakfast I helped out with some last minute sweeping of sand from the bar. I had an amazing tiger balm massage from the Girl, which consists of scraping tiger balm on your skin with the lid. I can't describe how it feels without quoting a John Cougar Mellencamp song. It hurts so good! I had a farewell ghetto party that morning as I worked for what will probably be my last time at the amazing bar in Koh Ru. Within two months a French company is going to come in a tear down the place for a big resort. Sad, but paradise doesn't last on Earth.
Leg 12: Sihanoukville-Phnom Penh - I woke up at 0830 for my 0730 bus to Phnom Penh! I hopped out of bed and ran down to talk to Matt behind the counter. Luckily there was another bus in 10 minutes. THE WINNER NEVER QUITS! I ran back upstairs and threw on a shirt and pants and said my goodbyes. I was wondering why my whole body was sore and why I had cuts, bites, and a swollen foot I couldn't recall having the day before. Also trying to figure out why my entire bag was soaked. Maybe I'll never know, probably don't want to know!
On the bus I was wondering how in the world I was going to make my flight for a 1640 departure. With all my clothes wet I had no choice but to try and find some nice clothes (I have to dress nice because I travel as a standby passenger) to wear at the airport. I was hungover, wet, and miserable. It would have been easy to quit right there. Try to change my flight to the next day and just use a personal day for work. My mantra kept playing in the back of my head. I could complain about how everything was going wrong today, or take it as an extreme challenge. I love a challenge. Bring it on!
I arrived in Phnom Penh at 1430 giving me about an hour before I needed to be at the airport. I asked the first tuk-tuk driver I saw "how long to the airport". Okay, so now I knew I had half an hour to check the internet to see if scheduling from my job back home ever responded to my question, which would allow me another week out here and no more need to worry about rushing. Also, I needed to hit an ATM and get a new wardrobe of clothes.
While on the way to the the nearest internet cafe, I ran my plan by the tuk-tuk driver, and he said it was we could make it. All I could do was have faith in him, because I didn't know how it was going to be possible. At the internet cafe, I found out scheduling had not responded to my question I had been asking for almost two weeks! Whatever, time to get some clothes after a quick stop at the ATM.
I managed to get an American Eagle shirt, Colombia khaki pants, Polo socks, and Calvin Klein boxers for $16USD! That was without bargaining. Could have paid a lot less, but no time. I handed the nice woman a $20 without waiting for change and was out of the market in no time at all. San, my tuk-tuk driver, pronounced like the first part of the word "sauna", was waiting outside the market. I hopped in and we were off to the airport, right on time! THE WINNER NEVER QUITS!
Leg 13: Phnom Penh, Cambodia(PHN)-Singapore, Singapore(SIN) - San ended up telling me the truth. It took almost exactly half an hour to the airport. I was so glad that he got me to the airport on time I gave him $20USD and told him to keep the change. $20 is a lot of money in Cambodia and probably at least 4 times what my ride cost, but he was a cool guy and helped me complete my challenge so I was glad to make his day.
Except for a strange look from the immigration officer when I handed him a soaked passport, everything went smooth all the way to Singapore. The flight ended up boarding 30 minutes late, just enough time for my clothes almost to dry! I was looking forward to Singapore and changing into dry clean clothes.
$8.50USD for a shower, but it was totally worth it! And I made sure to get my money's worth by taking the world's longest, hottest shower. Putting on my new clean clothes was such a good feeling. After exploring the airport and posting a "she said yes" facebook post I found a comfortable place to lay down for the night not aware that my post made it sound like I just proposed to a girl! Whoops.
I was stirred from a deep sleep at 0330 to three guards armed with sub-machine guns asking to see my passport. Not the best sight to wake up to. But besides that I really enjoyed my stay in the airport.
07 Mar 2013
Leg 14: Singapore(SIN)-Hong Kong(HKG) - Over 200 seats open on this flight! Got a whole row to myself again. Unfortunately only a 3 hour and 40 minute flight.
Leg 15: Hong Kong(HKG)-Chicago, IL(ORD) -
Leg 16: Chicago, IL(ORD)-Columbus, Ohio(CMH) - The early flights back to Miami were full so I made my way back to Columbus after finding out my personal days were approved for work. I just wanted to be somewhere that wasn't an airport, and it's always nice to go home and see the family.
08 Mar 2013
Today I found out that the Girl can't "like me like that anymore". I found out as I was looking up how to get a passport in Cambodia and a visa into the U.S for the Girl. It was a bit of a shocker, we'd only been dating like three days and hadn't even seen her or talked to her since I left. But at the same time it was a big relief. Not that I didn't like the Girl anymore or think she wasn't worth all the trouble, she is, and I was ready to do it. But I don't think either one of us was really ready.
Some people have already asked me if I'm okay, or if I feel like a fool, or any of these things. Not at all. I feel relieved almost. I'm still too young to do this I think. The first thing that popped into my mind was where am I going to go now in May! Sri Lanka, Morocco, Portugal, Sweden, China, Laos, Burma, Ecuador, Brasil, Bolivia...the possibilities are endless...is there is still a chance of going back to the island?..back into the "Love Triangle"!? Only time will tell.
The Girl said she can't like me anymore because the cleaning girl likes me and she is doesn't want to make her sad because she is like a sister to her. This is why I went through 6 countries, 13 cities, spent hundreds of dollars, baht, and riel in a week just for one date. She is such a sweetheart. And she keeps hos before bros. Or sisters before misters I guess you could say. I like that. No hard feelings. I learned a lot and I am ready to get busy living. THE WINNER NEVER QUITS...
11 Mar 2013
For those of you who know me well, you may be wondering what happened to me. I've always been single. I've always been really, really happy single. So why did I go on a crazy adventure to confess my love to a girl? Same reason we do, or don't do, most things. Fear. I got really scared of being alone for the rest of my life this year. Why? Well, it's a funny story really. I was traveling through Uruguay during the low season and didn't see another backpacker the whole time. I loved the country and everyone I did talk to was extremely friendly, however, most people thought I was Porteño (from Buenos Aires) and not too many people were interested in talking to me. The life changing moment hit me in one of my favorite small towns in the world, Mercedes, Uruguay.
It seemed the whole town was out in the park on the bank of the Rio Negro watching sunset. Everyone was a couple or a family, or groups of couples. Everyone had their thermos of hot water tucked under their arm for their yerba mate to drink. Everyone. Except two people. Myself and an old man. Both alone, and no yerba mate. He was at the very edge of the river and I was a little further back with a view of him.
For the first time in my life I felt alone. Not just alone, but lonely. It was a crazy feeling I had never felt before. I was traveling in a new country, watching a beautiful sunset, shouldn't I be happy? I vowed to myself that day that I would not be the old man watching the sunset alone.
This probably had a lot to do with the reason I took this last trip. But the best part is I learned two lessons. One on the trip to Uruguay, one on this last trip to Cambodia.
One: I don't want to be the lonely old man.
Two: I'm so freaking young! I have years and years and years before I am an old man!