It was a long journey back to Phnom Penh, but not unpleasant. I enjoyed watching the scenery change from dense forests, to agricultural lands, to the occasional small town. I enjoyed watching the bus struggle to get out of situations where it had bogged itself. I enjoyed kicking back with my chocolate wafers and watching people fish in the Mekong. I enjoyed playing my ipod for as long as the battery would last. And I enjoyed the arachnids I ate at sunset.
First, it was the tarantulas. They were crunchy, furry, and had quite a distinct, borderline unpleasant flavor. Moving on to the cockroaches was somewhat of a relief. This was followed by unrecognizable, blue flying bugs, and a stuffed frog. I know the poor kids from the village often spend their day hunting for these little frogs for their family to have some meat with dinner. They are actually quite pleasant to eat, but I can imagine it must get tedious eating them every night.
Then, finally, it was back to wafers and my can of Coca-Cola. Sure, I'm a western stereotype. But I looked around and saw many traditional old women eating the same foods, and many of the young people also drinking soft drinks at eating lollies. I suppose I was blending in as much as my pasty white skin would allow. Yes, I still haven't got a tan, and feel all the better for it. Cambodians find white skin very beautiful and I actually have strangers saying I'm pretty. Such a thing would never happen in Australia, and is rare even with the most beautiful of young girls. So yes, I find it flattering to have my ego stroked every now and then.
Is that such a bad thing?
Also, my Khmer has improved dramatically. I ordered curry with rice, asked how much, and even called for a drink and my bill in Khmer like it was the most natural thing in the world. Could I get used to living in Cambodia long-term? Absolutely. Will it happen? Hopefully. Some part of me wanted to turn the bus around and go set up camp permanently in Ratanakiri.
For now I was fine just to sit back and nibble on my arachnids at sunset.