After an hour of pandemonium at the Moc Bai/Bavet border crossing we passed into the Kingdom of Cambodia. Immediately upon entering the country it was apparent that Cambodia is vastly poorer than its neighbors to the east and west. Bamboo and corrugated tin huts line the bumpy, unkempt roadway, each with its own muddy pond where lily pads and easter egg hued tropical flowers struggle bravely to lift their fragile stalks above the choking garbage. Skinny dogs and even skinnier cows dart about between the huts hoping a stray bite of food may find its way to the ground. Our bus driver's penchant for Vietnamese techno music provides a pulsating soundtrack through the countryside.
As we wait in line for the bus to board the Neak Luong ferry near Prey Veng, people selling sundries crowd the filthy streets. Balanced on the vendor's heads are platters of the mundane such as peanuts, and the exotic such as tiny plucked and roasted birds, speckled bird's eggs, prawns and a rainbow of fruits. The Vietnamese ladies sitting in front of us on the bus bought a bag of roasted grasshoppers to snack on. They very politely invited us to partake and even tore off the unedible bits like the legs and head. But after taking a picture of it we politely declined. As we crossed the Mekong River on the ferry, small children with missing limbs came onto the bus to beg for money. I really wanted to give them some, but Ashley reminded me that they don't even benefit from it, they just have to give it to their parents who may not even buy them food. I feel almost vulgar driving past these unfathomably poor people on this air conditioned bus, resting my head on my inflatable neck pillow while sipping frozen Orangina, eating Ritz crackers and speeding away from the world they can't escape.