The Ex-Pat Zone


This blog entry about the events of Saturday, January 29, 2005 was originally posted on February 07, 2005.

DAY 469:  To make up time and to keep ourselves from being oversaturated with temples, Noelle and I decided like many backpackers before us, to skip out on the third day of our three-day Angkor Park pass — it costs the same as two one-day passes anyway.  With that said, you’d think we would have slept in, but no, we were up at “stupid o’clock” again, at 5:30 to get to our boat to Phnom Penh, Cambodia’s capital city.  We had heard that taking the cheaper bus option would involve another unpaved road — which might have led to another potential murder like that one time — so we splurged on the $23 fast ferry which would take us along the Tonle Sap river and lake system.

A complimentary minivan service picked us up to take us to the dock in a nearby village about half an hour south.  On the way to the boat we befriended a 34-year-old Australian named Shane, who was in Cambodia on business, but had decided to spend his weekend on the cruise to Phnom Penh instead of flying from Siem Reap.  Though based out of Sydney, he was an off-and-on ex-pat in Cambodia, working at an NGO that developed the local education system and helped to keep kids from dropping out.

The sun rose (picture above) over the Tonle Sap as we arrived in the little port village, a dusty place that reeked of rotting fish — the perfect sort of wake-me-up scent in the morning.  We were assaulted by dozens of vendors selling bananas, baguettes, and laughing cow cheese since no food would be available on the boat, and purchased accordingly.  An hour later we were finally off into Tonle Sap Lake, a lake that has the honor of being the only river/lake system that changes the direction of flow depending on the season.  Normally it flows southbound, but in the rainy season it flows north, bloating the Tonle Sap Lake to four times its regular size.  Fortunately for us, the current was in our favor, providing a relaxing seven-hour cruise in the air-conditioned cabin our out on the sun deck

“I was talking to the Australian guy and he said he’s staying at some hotel with cable TV and a swimming pool for twenty dollars.  And they take credit cards,” Noelle reported to me.


“Should we splurge?”

Hmm… splurging so soon? I thought.  Twenty dollars is a lot, relatively speaking.

“I think I wanna splurge.  I’ll splurge for [the two of] us.”

“Sure.”  Ha, pull my arm.  And just like that, Noelle went from my Blogreader to my guest star on “The Trinidad Show” to my part-time sugar momma.

Shane already had a reservation and a car waiting for him at the dock when we arrived in Phnom Penh, and he was happy to have us tag along for the ride.  We rolled into the driveway of the four-star Goldiana Hotel, a fairly new hotel just under two years old where many of the off-and-on ex-pats took temporary residence when they were in town.  When we checked in, the receptionist said the rate was not $20 but $40; Shane’s rate was pre-arranged between the hotel and his NGO.  “Sorry guys,” he apologized.  Noelle didn’t care; a splurge was a splurge and we were there already — the cheaper backpacker district was far away on the other side of town.  Noelle put down her Visa card on the desk and checked us into The Ex-Pat Zone.

JUST SOUTHWEST OF THE INDEPENDENCE MONUMENT, The Ex-Pat Zone was where most of the foreign embassies and houses of foreign ambassadors were located.  Along with them were many upscale-looking but affordable restaurants serving indigenous and international cuisine — not that we tried them right away; we just ate at the hotel restaurant.  To fulfill my “at-least-one-Cambodian-dish” quota of the day, I had Cambodian Curry, which was similar to Thai green curry with coconut milk, but had sweet white potatoes and roasted peanuts in the mix for a unique Cambodian taste.

Noelle had the food charged to the room and then went back to the room — only to be sucked into the movie Little Giants on TV.  We managed to take advantage of the pool on the third floor terrace, where we killed time before freshening up to meet up with fellow transient ex-pat Shane for dinner.  We walked down the road of The Ex-Pat Zone to Athena’s Greek Restaurant, run by an American ex-pat, which served us fine Greek food and beers.  Shane shared tales of his life in his pre-ex-pat days when he was simply a young Aussie backpacker wandering around the world.  It was nice to hear the life after being a backpacker didn’t necessarily have to be in a cube farm; it could still involve travel — travel with a higher standard of living too.  Then again, I suppose any backpacker with a credit card or a sugar momma could upgrade whenever they felt like splurging.


Next entry: “The Trinidad Show” Live

Previous entry: The DAY 503 Trailer

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Comments for “The Ex-Pat Zone”

  • RSVP: 2 (myself and Michelle)

    ...and First? Yay!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  02/06  at  01:32 PM

  • and second! Yeah, what she (Ali) said…

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  02/06  at  04:36 PM

  • If I had tassles I’d shake ‘em!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  02/06  at  06:31 PM

  • RSVP:  Just me planning to go for Day 503.  ...The sunset looks pretty.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  02/06  at  06:31 PM

  • Day 469 yes!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  02/06  at  07:07 PM

  • RSVP : count me in for 503 !

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  02/07  at  12:34 PM

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This blog post is one of over 500 travel dispatches from the trip blog, "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World (Or Until Money Runs Out, Whichever Comes First)," originally hosted by It chronicled a trip around the world from October 2003 to March 2005, which encompassed travel through thirty-seven countries in North America, South America, Africa, Europe, and Asia. It was this blog that "started it all," where Erik evolved and honed his style of travel blogging — it starts to come into focus around the time he arrives in Africa.

Praised and recommended by USA Today,, and readers of BootsnAll and Lonely Planet's Thorn Tree, The Global Trip blog was selected by the editors of PC Magazine for the "Top 100 Sites You Didn't Know You Couldn't Live Without" (in the travel category) in 2005.

Next entry:
“The Trinidad Show” Live

Previous entry:
The DAY 503 Trailer


Confused at some of the jargon that's developed with this blog and its readers over the years? Here's what they mean:

BFFN: acronym for "Best Friend For Now"; a friend made on the road, who will share travel experiences for the time being, only to part ways and lose touch with

The Big Trip: the original sixteen month around-the-world trip that started it all, spanning 37 countries in 5 continents over 503 days (October 2003–March 2005)

NIZ: acronym for "No Internet Zone"; a place where there is little to no Internet access, thus preventing dispatches from being posted.

SBR: acronym for "Silent Blog Reader"; a person who has regularly followed The Global Trip blog for years without ever commenting or making his/her presence known to the rest of the reading community. (Breaking this silence by commenting is encouraged.)

Stupid o'clock: any time of the early morning that you have to wake up to catch a train, bus, plane, or tour. Usually any time before 6 a.m. is automatically “stupid o’clock.”

The Trinidad Show: a nickname of The Global Trip blog, used particularly by travelers that have been written about, who are self-aware that they have become "characters" in a long-running story — like characters in the Jim Carrey movie, The Truman Show.

WHMMR: acronym for "Western Hemisphere Monday Morning Rush"; an unofficial deadline to get new content up by a Monday morning, in time for readers in the western hemisphere (i.e. the majority North American audience) heading back to their computers.

1981ers: people born after 1981. Originally, this was to designate groups of young backpackers fresh out of school, many of which were loud, boorish and/or annoying. However, time has passed and 1981ers have matured and have been quite pleasant to travel with. The term still refers to young annoying backpackers, regardless of year — I guess you could call them "1991ers" in 2013 — young, entitled millennials on the road these days, essentially.

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