Following a lovely send off by Joella’s family the previous two evenings, we were now getting up at the crack of dawn to make our escape. Mike, Joella’s dad took us to Brentwood where James then drove us all the way to Heathrow – thanks guys, best chauffeurs ever!
As we tearilly kissed the UK soil goodbye, our minds soon turned to the marathon journey ahead of us:
- 3 separate flights
- 2 stop overs
- 6 time zones
- 21 hours of travel
From London to Abu Dhabi our flight was uneventful, although Joella would probably argue I was a tad overexcited about being in an A380 for the first time. We watched as many films as we could possibly manage, in amongst the usual juggling of tiny dishes while trying to eat aeroplane food, without getting it on ourselves or elbowing our fellow passengers in the process.
Our second flight begun with a stand-off between me and a monk, probably not how you want to start a flight.
I intended to sit in the window seat, with Joella in the middle, and the aisle seat taken by one of many monks on our flight. Apparently the monk didn’t want to sit next to Joella, and instead was keen for me to be his neighbour. At first I laughed it off and tried to sit down, but then a lady in front of us also got involved and offered me some stern words in a language I’m not currently fluent in. At this point we decided to keep the peace, and sit in accordance with the Monk’s wishes, this must surely be good karma or something. We later learned that monks are not allowed to ever be in close proximity to women. (Picture of monk below for illustrative purposes only)
Rather than getting any food in Abu Dhabi, we’d decided to save our money and wait to eat on the plane. It was only once we were boarded that a horrible thought struck me – it was 11.30 pm local time and 2.30 at our destination, there may not be any food for some time – nooooo! The next half an hour could easily have seen me arrested by an Air Marshall based on how I was acting: I kept looking up and down the aisles, tracking all the air hostesses movements in an attempt to see if they were preparing food. At one point I was caught intently staring, as a number of passengers were being handed what I thought were the special dietary meals, they were actually the children’s colouring in books. Joella laughed, I felt even more distressed. Fortunately we were fed shortly after, and I managed to avoid any further suspicious behaviour.
Our last stop over, in Bangkok, was relatively straight forward, and we managed to successfully source our boarding passes for our next flight. Although our intentions to really embrace the local cultures on our adventures came to an abrupt end before we’d even got to our destination, as we stopped in past Starbucks for some coffees.
After a short 90 minute flight from Bangkok, we’d finally arrived at our destination: Cambodia’s world famous capital – Phnom Penh. Being completely honest, we’d never heard of this place before planning our adventure, but are now glad to say we’re now slightly more worldly and slightly less ignorant!
The last leg of our journey required us to acquire a tuk tuk (technically they’re called remorques in Cambodia and consist of a moped attached to a separate carriage), to take us to our hotel. After reading Lonely Planet in amongst other research, we were expecting this task to involve long queues in the blistering heat, fighting away potential pickpockets while trying to negotiate a fair price for the ride with unruly drivers trying to rip us off. Thankfully the reality was a lot easier; a friendly chap asked if we wanted a tuktuk while we were in the soothing air-con of the airport, told us it was a flat fee of $9 as confirmed by all the signage, and even carried our bags for us.
We found our first ever tuk tuk ride to be as thrilling and dangerous, as at least I had hoped for. There are next to no obvious road rules, and drivers happily drive up and down whichever side of the road they like, paying no attention to traffic lights or road signs. The air was awash with petrol fumes, while our ears were buzzing to the sounds of the constant horns blaring all around us. But despite all this, we soon felt relatively safe, thanks to the slow speeds and general courteous nature of all the drivers – possibly more so than the UK! After 30 minutes of twisting our necks in every direction to take in as much of our surrounding as we possibly could, we arrived safely at our hotel.