My 2nd Trip to Cambodia
NOTE: If you haven't read the first part of this story yet, you can do that here: My Trip To Cambodia, Pt 1.
You'll probably want to do that, otherwise some of the stuff that follows might not make as much sense.
I flew the Seattle-to-Taipei-to-Cambodia route and got in about noon. My sweetie met me there with flowers in hand for me. My bags didn't show up, unfortunately, so I filed the my-bags-are-missing form and off we went to the Phnom Penh Hotel
. The PPH is utterly fabulous, it's grand, sumptuous, and plush as hell. The concierge lady at the PPH wondered why I had no bags and when we told her they hadn't showed up, she said she would scold the airport people for us (lol) and keep on them until they found the bags.
We relaxed for a bit in the room and then went to see my fiance's folks, said our hellos and visited with them for a bit. After a while we went out to dinner at a nice little place where we were waited on hand and foot by a slew of giggling waitresses who were talking a mile a minute to my fiance. They were quizzing her like mad about me, lol.
We turned in early because I'd been up for about 40 hours straight at that point. I was so dopey I could barely stand up.
The next morning we went to her workplace and did another round of hellos. The girls at my fiance's workplace were teasing her like mad about her 'norteamericano boyfriend" and went into paroxysms of "woo woo woo
" if I so much as held her hand. Public displays of affection are *not* the norm in Cambodia and so kissing my fiance on the cheek nearly put them over the edge, lol. From what I can tell, about half the girls at her workplace are getting married within the next few months.
We hit the big marketplace and got some miscellaneous stuff, t-shirts and odds and ends. We took a tuk-tuk (a little chauffeured cart) around the city for a bit just for something to do. When we got back to the PPH the concierge lady told us she'd found our bags and they were waiting for us at the airport. EVA air wouldn't deliver them to the PPH so we got another tuk-tuk and went to get my bags.
When I opened the bags there was a little note in each one from the friendly folks at the Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) saying that they just *had* to open my bags and root through them in the interests of safety, and they were sooooooooo sorry if that delayed them for a day but they were sure I understood, right? They said if they "had to break the locks off" that the TSA inspector "sincerely regretted having to do that
" etc etc. Yeah, I'm sure he cried himself to *&$@! sleep over it, no doubt.
So, I put all the stuff I'd brought for my fiance's family into one bag and took it to her apartment to give to her folks. You'd have thought it was Christmas in February. I'd brought all sorts of stuff that they either don't have there or don't usually buy, or that is just too expensive. I brought salt, mayonnaise (!!), noodles, Tylenol, Advil, Imodium, lots of shampoo, some body lotions, barbecue sauce, some spices, scented soaps, chocolate (a lot of chocolate, lol), fever thermometers, vitamins, and a ton of other things, about 100 lbs of stuff altogether.
One of her sisters quizzed me on what some of it was and wrote little post-it notes to put on all the bottle and bags and containers so her folks would know what it was. After all, if you can't read English you can't tell if some strangely-marked bottle contains barbecue sauce or body lotion. And you don't want to mix those up, if you know what I mean, lol.
The next day we rented a bus with a driver and all three sisters, me, and her brother drove out to Kompong Som
The trip there was really, really exciting, the same way an airplane crash is really, really exciting. Our driver must have gotten paid extra for every vehicle he passed. He passed on the left, on the right, in the middle. Passing other cars and trucks was the order of the day. He'd pass on blind curves, on bridges, and on blind curving bridges (I'm not kidding). I nearly crapped myself about 500 times and that was in the first 20 kilometers. He'd swing the bus out from behind some truck and there would be two or sometimes three other vehicles all coming the OTHER WAY
trying to pass. No joke. At the last instant he'd jerk the bus to the right (or left) and everyone else would do the same and somehow we would miss crashing into each other. I kept trying to get a picture of this insanity so that when they pulled our bodies from the smoking wreckage they'd be able to look in my camera at the very last picture and see what killed us. I am not kidding. My life flashed before my eyes so many times it went into syndication. He also must have gotten some sort of thrill from using his *&^#!@ car horn, because he beeped it every few seconds THE WHOLE F*CKING WAY- over 150 kilometers. I swear, I'm NOT kidding. BEEP, BEEP, BEEEEEEEEEP, BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP, BEEEEEEEP
....the whole way there, for four fricking hours. He was warning all of the hapless suckers in front of us that he was coming to pass them. If you beeped your horn that much here, people would start shooting at you, no lie. I am not making a single word of this up. He probably goes through two or three horns a year. And it was exactly like that the whole way back, too: BEEP, BEEP, BEEEEEEEEEP BeepBeepBeepBeep
Anyway, Kompong Som is a gorgeous place. The water in the ocean is warm like a bath, it's just fantastic. The scenery is incredible there. I think I was the only white-skinned guy for 100 miles in any direction. I got a lot of looks, but everyone was just as friendly as could be. We swam until we were just dog tired and then crawled up onto the beach for a while. After we recovered we took a quick trip to a local market for some food. Most of it was still moving, I swear to god. All the fish and crabs and things were still squirming or squiggling or whatever. My fiance just stripped 'em all down and gave then to a chef at the market to cook up on the spot in a big communal bowl. We had about 10 lbs of crabs and huge shrimp other stuff, some of which I have no idea what it was except that some of them had a lot of extra legs and wiggly things waving around. I just closed my eyes a lot when I ate.
The market is just a big covered dirt area and all of the stuff (fish, plants, potatoes, etc) are just laid out on the ground. The crabs and shrimp and wiggly things are kept alive in big bowls and ya gotta be quick when you pick the crabs out or they'll grab your finger and nip the living crap out of you. "Sanitary" is not a word that comes to mind, but it's the way things are there. I didn't get sick so what can I say.
I do not recommend staying in "The Golden Castle
", the hotel we used for the night in Kompong Som. It looks nice from the outside, but it was a little barren inside. The hot water heater was the size of a pop can, so you could take a hot shower for almost a full minute before it suddenly ran out and then froze your ass to death. Woo baby, talk about shrinkage.
We came back from Kompong Som after visiting some waterfalls nearby. There were a lot of fields along the way that were "places no walk to", which I think meant they had landmines although I didn't see any signs. Sometimes they let cattle into the fields to graze and "find some mines". After a month the field is supposedly safe to walk into but I'll pass on that, thankyouverymuch.
I'll write some more tomorrow.Click here to jump to the third part of this story