Meet Sebastian: a lovely young German program employee with a rather intense interest for Mexico, and a severe lack of one for Canada. He picks us up from the airport and leads us to his pick-up truck. Small talk ensues, and when we ask how our new friend likes life in Cambodia, he hesitates. “You know, it has its ups and downs.” Just the thing we want to hear.
We arrive to the Tut Guest House, our home for the next month or so with bright eyes, wide smiles, and the beginning of an endless pool of perspiration. We cannot wait to meet all the 25 other volunteers Sebastian has told us about. Our Cambodian group leaders! Our local chef! Our local tour guide!
Joke’s on us.
Sebastian kindly carries our bags up a flight of stairs and a young Cambodian boy gives us the key (NB: coordinate enter and exit times) to our new pad. A small room with two beds, two fans and what they call a “smart” bathroom, which has everything you need for a smart bathroom experience. Except toilet paper. Which doesn’t seem to exist anywhere. Smart – environmentally-friendly. Not Smart – chugging a liter of water before bed.
Convincing ourselves we are exhausted from our journey, we get in on bed (no covers required with this heat), confident that we have outsmarted that amateur traveler’s companion: jetleg. We fall asleep and dream about Gary and Larry (Chloe started dated Gary’s brother about 2 weeks ago if you haven’t heard!) for 12 hours and awake refreshed as ever.
Joke’s on you.
Approximately one hour later we are up and at it. C: M, you up? M: Yes. C: What the fudge will get me to sleep? M whips out the remedy: 1 natural sleeping pill, 1 US Weekly featuring The Real Housewives of NYC, 16 graham crackers, and one 1 full-blown anxiety attack.
Needless to say, whether or not we slept last night is questionable.
At 7 am we awake and in approx. 10 minutes MJ is ready to go while Chloe is still sprawled out on bed, earplugs in, eyemask on, making a final attempt to fall asleep (failure). 7:30, we grab breakfast at the Guest House and are on our merry way, dressed appropriately for either MJ: first day of kindergarten (little striped dress, sneakers, backpack), and Chloe: a Hamptons chick going to a funeral (long black dress, black sandals, black sunglasses, black soul).
Despite our ill-suited dress code, our self-guided tour through the city has proven us determined, dirt-repellant, directionally-savvy (no tuk-tuks needed just yet), and fully independent travelers, capable of accomplishing our first-day goal: finding free wifi.
More details on tuk-tuks to follow.
Contributing Writer: Chloe