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happy pizza in cambodia

Updated: Nov 15, 2018

I first learned about 'happy pizza' from my neighbor on the flight from Phuket, Thailand to Phnom Penh, Cambodia. We got to talking and he showed me this video of Tony Bourdain enjoying happy pizza. Being from America, I had a hard time fathoming that this could be a real thing. I can’t just walk into restaurants and order herb-infused edibles where I come from (in most states anyway).

After a morning that included an ATV tour around the Phnom Penh countryside, shooting AK-47's and visiting the Killing Fields, my friend and I were famished. We happened to walk by a spot called 'HAPPY HERB PIZZA.' Meh, why not try it? When in Phnom Penh...

We walked in, sat down and ordered one large happy pizza, with pepperoni. We chowed down, leaving only one slice remaining. In hindsight, we probably should have only ordered one slice each. Live and learn.

About an hour later, back at our hotel room, we learned that the pizza was in fact ‘happy.' Stage one was the giggles. The phone rang on the TV and we searched the hotel room, top to bottom, frantically looking for the ringing mobile. Once we realized, we collapsed into a fit of hysterics that left our face muscles sore. Stage two was disbelief. We truly thought that there was maybe a 15% chance that this would have any affect on us. WRONG! My friend just kept repeating “I can’t believe it’s real!” Stage three was exhaustion. We napped for about four hours, before we had to force ourselves to wake, in time for our pre-arranged booze cruise. Paranoia set in at stage four, just in time for the cruise. Everyone on the boat knew that we ate happy pizza, right? Of course they did. They had to. How could they not?

Once the everlasting booze cruise finally ended, we decided to head straight to a bar. Maybe alcohol would help? After a few drinks, we were definitely still feeling funny, but the effects of the alcohol started to overpower the happiness of the pizza.

We then ran into our plane mates, who initially introduced us to the concept of happy pizza. Phnom Penh is a small city. When we told them about how we spent our afternoon and they insisted on going to find another venue where happy pizza was served so that they could also partake. Round two. We really had no excuse this time. We knew it was real and we knew the effects, but the alcohol/herb combo must have clouded our judgment. At least we were smart enough to limit ourselves to only one more slice each the second time around.

We woke up the next morning at 7am, packed our bags and checked out of our hotel. We had a six hour bus ride to Siem Reap to catch. We were STILL feeling ragged and definitely not functioning on all cylinders. When our bus never showed up, I started making phone calls. After several misunderstandings, unpleasant exchanges and frustration (mind you, not operating at full capacity was not helping the situation), it was determined that the bus booking hadn't officially been confirmed the night before and there were no more buses available until 2pm. Luckily the hotel let us back in our room to carry on sleeping (BIG thank you to Quay Boutique Hotel)! It was not until 1pm when we FINALLY started to feel normal again, albeit still very groggy. That bus ride was not the most pleasant part of our time in Cambodia, but we made it to Siem Reap in one piece and survived our first, second and last happy pizza adventures.


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