The Transition

Just when you get used to a place, you leave again. It just started to feel comfortable. I was in Thailand for three weeks just before I went to Laos. You get used to a place, whether it's a town or a country - find out how much things should cost, learn the local scams, work out which is your favourite dish, learn bits of the language. And then you render all of that knowledge useless by setting off into the unknown - this time going from Vietnam (where I'd been for seven weeks) to Cambodia, which is totally new to me. What does a taxi cost? Hell, what does a taxi look like? Is food more expensive? Are the mosquitoes malarial? And then there's always the border to deal with. Do you need to get the visa in advance or can you get it on arrival? How much does it cost and how long is it for? And the scariest question: what kind of mood are the border guards in today? They have discretionary power to make your life a living hell and almost no oversight. On the other hand, I've had no problems at all and the worst I've heard recently was guards charging a non-existent $2 "service fee." But all this is tempered by the excitement that awaits: in the case of Cambodia, I'm looking forward to Angkor Wat.