Embarking on a journey that spans across continents, my travels from Singapore took me from the hustle and bustle of Manila to the cultural oasis of Phnom Penh. From a taxi cab escapade in the Philippines to the rich tapestry of history and cuisine in Cambodia, join me as I navigate through the unexpected and immerse myself in the vibrant landscapes of Southeast Asia.

From Singapore I flew to the Philippines. Touching down in Manila, I found myself caught in a spirited dance with a taxi cab driver attempting to overcharge me. Undeterred, I switched cabs, only to discover that I must use the first one in line, the very driver who quoted me an exorbitant fare. Frustration mounted until an official intervened, shocked by the attempted deception. The official demanded the cabbie enter his office and remove his badge, and wanted me to file a report of the incident, I chose to take the high road, not wanting to get the cabbie in trouble, boarding the next cab without issue, and leaving behind the chaos of Manila’s streets, during my brief layover in the Philippines.

A short trip to America beckoned, and with it came a layover in Anchorage, Alaska. Flying into the land of snow-capped peaks and wilderness, I marveled at the beauty of Alaska. The contrast between the Philippines and Alaska was stark, yet both left their mark on me. I had modified my car when I went to all 48 states, by taking out two seats so I could fit my keyboard (I play piano) and my folding, fat-tire, electric bike. The seats were in a storage unit in Virginia Beach and my car was in Seattle, Washington. I flew into Seattle, and drove straight across the USA from one coast to the other, where I put the seats back in the car. I was able to visit cousins in Denver, relatives in North Carolina, and dear friends in Virginia, who helped me sell my car and get me to the airport to return to Asia. I was able to secure another free flight from Seattle using my Space-A military benefit.

Me playing my keyboard.

On my return trip to Asia, I was able to visit Okinawa, in the Ryukyu Islands, where I spent just one night on the way to my next adventure. Nestled along the banks of the Mekong River, Phnom Penh (the capital of Cambodia) emerged as my next destination, a city pulsating with history, culture, and resilience. The juxtaposition of French colonial architecture and modern structures hinted at the layers awaiting exploration. Phnom Penh, the “Pearl of Asia,” embraced me with open arms.

As day broke in Phnom Penh, the heartbeat of the city led me to the Phsar Thmei, Central Market. Amidst the aromatic blend of spices and lively exchanges between vendors and shoppers, I discovered a culinary scene teeming with life, including a section dedicated to live animals. Navigating through the market’s vibrant alleys, I witnessed the authenticity of Cambodia’s culinary traditions.

The scenic riverfront became my refuge as I strolled along the Tonle Sap and Mekong Rivers. Street vendors offered local delicacies, inviting me to indulge in Cambodian street food and immerse myself in the city’s vitality. Exploring the nearby street markets, I interacted with locals, experiencing the daily rhythm of Phnom Penh through its vibrant street life.

Transitioning from culinary adventures, I embarked on a cultural odyssey at the National Museum of Cambodia. Amid lush gardens, the museum unveiled a treasure trove of artifacts, sculptures, and artworks narrating the country’s rich history. From intricate carvings to exhibits on the Khmer Empire, the museum provided a profound glimpse into Cambodia’s culture. As I wander through the museum’s halls, I’m captivated by the intricate carvings and sculptures that narrate tales of ancient Khmer civilization. The museum’s serene ambiance provides a stark contrast to the bustling markets, allowing visitors to delve into Cambodia’s past at their own pace.

A highlight of the National Museum is the exhibit on the Khmer Empire, showcasing artifacts from the Angkor archaeological site. The delicate statuary and ancient relics transport visitors back in time, offering a glimpse into the grandeur of Cambodia’s past.

Phnom Penh, a city of contrasts and resilience, proved to be a symphony of senses. From taxi turmoil in Manila to the culinary delights and cultural wonders of Cambodia’s capital, every experience etched a unique chapter in my global adventures. As I bid farewell to Phnom Penh, its vibrant markets and serene museums linger in my memories, a testament to the enchantment that awaits those who explore this captivating corner of Southeast Asia.

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