One of my goals in traveling to Cambodia was to eat some unusual food, namely crickets and spiders. We went to lunch at another NGO-run restaurant that offered tarantulas and red ants on the menu (no crickets, though; some other time). The tarantulas were quite tasty, though Greg made fun of me for eating them like crab legs, taking off the outer shell to get to the meat inside. He eats the whole thing. I'd rather not consume that much hair. The ants were cooked with a beef dish and didn’t really have flavor to them, they just added a crunch (and some protein) to the dish. The restaurant also had a gift shop with products made by Cambodian kids, the profits going to benefit them.
I got a really cool bracelet made from a fork there.
The end came all too soon, and though it wasn’t the end of my vacation (I still had a day and a half in Bangkok), it essentially was because I was leaving Greg. I flew out that evening and arrived at my hotel in Bangkok at 8pm.
I didn’t have enough time in Thailand. I feel guilty even counting it as a country I’ve been to. I only had one full day there and during that time, because I linked myself with some other volunteers (not wanting the stress of navigating alone like I had in India) I only saw the grand palace. It was, of course, similar to the one in Phnom Penh, but larger, more elaborate, and teeming with tourists. After that, we went to a mall, which wasn’t all bad because I had Burger King and KFC (Don’t judge. Seriously, come live in Turkmenistan for ten months.) and was able to pick up some small souvenirs for my host family. That night I saw Khao San Road and was thankful I didn’t get a hotel there. That place is tourist central and not in a good way. Totally caters to the “neo-hippie, let’s get meaningless tattoos and smoke some pot and pretend we’re not going to turn out just like our parents in ten years” type. But they had some neat shops and I got a camel pillow cover. Fun place to visit for a couple hours, wouldn’t want to sleep there.
The next morning, we took a 6am bus to get to the airport in time to check in for our flight. I’ve never waited so long to check in for a flight in my life. That’s because Turkmen don’t know how to travel. They all have about five or six pieces of luggage to check and don’t understand the weight limit rules and generally just take forever. Plus they still haven’t figured out the concept of a queue. When we got to the counter and one of my fellow volunteers informed the
airline she had lost her ticket, it was an issue. Now, on any other airline in the world, they would just take her
passport, look her up in the computer and print off a boarding pass. Not Turkmen Air, they had to have the paper ticket. Or she’d have to buy a new one at $700 dollars (twice what she had paid for her round-trip ticket). So, she was stuck in Thailand until Peace Corps could help her out. Since there’s only two flights a week, that meant she was there another four days. It was a big “yup, welcome back to the country of inconvenience and stupidity” for us. The rest of us boarded our flight and arrived safely in Ashgabat, welcomed by the burning sun and dust.