Instead of lengthy journey through Thailand or a direct but stupidly expensive flight, we decided to take our chances and travel through Northwest Cambodia to its tiny, and just recently opened and internationally unrecognized border. The first stop was Kampong Cham. It is where we wanted to catch a boat that would travel up the mighty Mekong River. Unfortunately, now that the Japanese had helped build a bridge over the river, the boats had been swiftly put out of business. For the city, this meant that it went from a stopover with a healthy tourism industry to a rusty sign on the highway.
Our one evening took us on the back of motorbikes up to a couple of hilltop temples where we watched baby monkeys play in the foreground with the humongous Mekong flowing behind in the distance. Back in town we hung out at a café run by an American man named Bill and his Khmer wife. His British friend and employee at his English school was drinking and smoking heavily beside us, while a team of Christian missionaries ate behind. Our guesthouse was easily the worst to date and whole town was dead and simply eerie. Bill and his bud had been there for twelve years; I was ready to leave that instant. I don't know if Kampong Cham needed God, but it was certainly missing something.