It is chill here. The streets are dusty and quiet. Tuk tuk drivers are napping in hammocks that they've hung in the back of their vehicles. Dogs snooze in the shade, unmoved by occasional fly pestering them. A tumbleweed rolling across town would not feel out of place. It's probably because we've arrived via a fairly remote border crossing, beneath the maze of the Mekong Delta, into the tiny riverside village of Kampot. I'm sure the more common arrival city of Phnom Penh is a chaotic mess of a place. But here, life is reeeeal slow.
The travelers here are cool. Way cooler than us. Their beards have seen more than we have in the 10 months since we left home. Ambling around town in their loose fitting layers, leaving a trail of hash smoke in their wake, they are the detached calm that most travelers merely pretend to be. But not in an obnoxious way. They exude good vibes, and we're meeting some great folks.
It's a little bit lawless. You get the sense you can do anything you want here, and no one will bat an eye. It feels both liberating, and a little dangerous. Bartenders openly rolling joints on the bar. Businesses opening and closing on a whim. The ability to borrow a motorbike from just about anybody. The lack of shoes on, well, anyone. Folks sleeping, well, everywhere. Do what you want, when you want, cause nobody cares.
The people are extraordinarily friendly. We thought the folks in Vietnam were nice. We'd been told they just get better and better as you make your way through Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar. And we can already see what they mean. Every person we pass greets us with a genuine smile. We are bombarded with enthusiastic hellos from every kid we see. People are warm and kind and we feel really welcome. They are happy to joke around with us, which is a rare thing when language and culture pose a barrier.
So far, Cambodia gets a thumbs up. And we're curious to see how the rest of the country will shape our impression of it.