My Trip To Cambodia

Started by TehBorken, Dec 19 06 09:52

Previous topic - Next topic


Excellent update TB.  I'm still thinking you NEED to write a book.  Your writing makes be truly LOL.  
Sir Isaac Newton invented the swinging door....for the convenience of his cat.


The Seventh Trip

Another trip to Cambodia...  this was my 7th trip and although some things were the same there's always lots of new stuff or things I hadn't noticed before.

I did the usual Seattle to Taipei to Phnom Penh route and got in around 10am or so. The weather in Cambodia this time of year is great- it's the cool season and the temp hovered around 75 to 80 the whole time. For me it was perfect, but 75 is practically freezing for Cambodians and a number of people were wearing light jackets (LOL!!) to ward off the brutally cold temperatures (LOL!!!). My fiance and I were cruising around the city one morning on the motorcycle and she actually said, "Oh, so cold!". It was 78 degrees out.

I was there last year at this time and I was just dying from the heat. No shit, I mean I was physically faint most of the time and felt completely drained of energy- it was like I was moving through molasses, and I was congratulating myself on being such a trooper and surviving the unbelievable heat.

Well, as it turned out I was actually sick as a dog and didn't realize it. I was running a 103 degree fever, so of course it felt hot there to me, lol. Not just hot, but standing-on-the-surface-of-the-Sun-hot. I felt like crap, but it was all due to my being sick and dying, not because it was actually hot. I just wanted to clear that up. To sum up: if it feels really, really hot, it may not be weather related, it may just be that you're dying.

One thing that really got to me this time was that everywhere we went, and I do mean EVERYWHERE, they were playing Christmas music. Every shitty, sappy-ass Christmas song ever recorded was being played on repeating loops all over the damn city. EVERYWHERE!!! Not just in stores, but in hotels, dental offices, at the airport, in restaurants, filling stations, and even in the Buddhist temples. Okay, I made that last one up, but you get the idea. A lot of the Christmas music was, believe it or not, Frank Sinatra. Yep, apparently Ol' Blue Eyes is making a vicious f*cking comeback in Southeast Asia, and the only way to escape his crooning is to push chopsticks into your ears until they puncture your eardrums. And it would be a welcome relief, believe me.

It wouldn't be so bad except they play him endlessly, over and over and over again, looping though 4 or 5 of his songs until you want to scream and start kicking the crap out of someone, anyone, it doesn't matter who. I swear, I'd beat up one of those Buddhist monks after 30 minutes of non-stop Sinatra and it's only due to pure luck that I didn't stumble across one while I was in one of my Sintra-induced rages. Yeah, you laugh, but you try listening to "Santa Claus Is Coming" and "Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire" 10 or 20 times in a row and see if you don't feel like killing someone.

The really pathetic thing about this is that Cambodia is about 98% Buddhist. I mean, you could pretty much atom bomb the whole country from end to end and not kill a single Christian (unless you got really lucky, that is). Personally I think anyone who decides to play that %$#@! Christmas music should be put in the re-education camps and tortured until they die, writhing in horrible, unspeakable agony.

But I digress...

Okay, what else....let's see...

I didn't get such great deals on watches this time, most of the sellers were taking a pretty tough stance price-wise. Rolexes were running about $25 to $30 apiece. Rrrrrrrrrr. My friend Jack wanted some Patek Phillipe watches and a Movado for his daughter, so I got two nice Patek Phillipes for him.

The Movado was another story- there was only one place that had the model we wanted and the lady wouldn't cut a deal for it no matter how much we begged. If you've ever seen a Movado you'll know it's a very simple looking watch. On a Rolex there are LOTS of details they can get wrong, the hands, the date window, the bezel, etc etc etc.

A Movado, on the other hand, is just a goddam circle with a dot. That's it- a frickin' circle and a dot. The one we got was very nice and I bet only 1 out of a 1000 people could tell it from the real deal. I mean, there's not much to screw up...Asia Palace Hotel (,%20It's%20a%20beautiful%20watch%20and%20Jack's%20daughter%20is%20going%20to%20owe%20me%20a%20favor%20big-time,%20like%20an%20introduction%20to%20one%20of%20her%20cute%20friends%20or-%20oh,%20wait,%20I'm%20already%20engaged.%20Never%20mind.%20%3Cbr%20/%3E%3Cbr%20/%3EWe%20started%20off%20staying%20at%20the%20%5Burl="") again, but due to some crude comments by the cleaning staff we opted to take our business elsewhere. I won't go into details but they said some things about my fiance within her earshot, and she was pretty hurt by what was said. Not speaking Khmer I didn't realize what was going on at the time or I'd have kicked some room-cleaner butt on the spot, but once my fiance told me what they'd said, we just up and left. I had a few choice words with the manager as we left regarding his cleaning staff, something to the effect of "f*ck you and your puke-bag hotel, you a**hole shitf*ck" (and I didn't say it in a nice way, either).

We took a look at a place called the Hong Kong Hotel- it was actually fairly nice but had two fatal flaws. First, there was no in-room internet service, which sucked. They had wireless internet available in the lobby but it cost $3 per hour. It was just too unwieldy and considering we were going to be getting a VIP room it seemed kind of cheap-ass, really. All the other hotels pump a signal into your room but they didn't want to go to the trouble, they'd rather you fool around in the lobby with the meter running.

So, we ended up at the New York Hotel ( on Monivong Boulevard. Actually, damn near *everything* in Phnom Penh is on Monivong Boulevard as near as I can tell. The New York Hotel is pretty nice- large, well-equipped rooms, a nice free breakfast bar, and (be still my heart) free internet in the room. They have a 1/200th scale model of the Statue Of Liberty out front and it's kind of cool. It looks like it was made by Miss Miller's 4th grade class as an art project, but it's the thought that counts. I tried to take a picture of it but every time I got it in the viewfinder I started laughing and eventually the hotel staff chased me away.

There was a light switch in our room at the New York Hotel that didn't seem to go to anything. Every so often Sakha and I would flick it on and off while looking around to see what it did. After a few days of doing this, some guy who lives up near the Thai border in North Vietnam called us up and told us to "cut it out".

Another interesting thing about hotels in Cambodia is the water spigots. Hot water comes from the tap or knob on the right, except when it doesn't, which is about half the time. Then it comes from the one on the left. Really, I swear they just hook the pipes up according to whichever is closer to the knob or whatever. And they're not even marked 'Hot' or 'Cold' (where would be the sport in that, eh?).

Also, in American hotels (and Canada too, I believe) the hot water temperature is limited by law as to just how hot it can be. It's a liability thing, I guess. Not so in Cambodia- some hotels will give you tepid, 75-degree water while others serve it up so it comes out of the faucet at its boiling point. Really- you can make coffee with the hot water straight from the tap at the New York Hotel. You can actually boil a chicken in the shower if you want. And you can boil your fiance too if you're not careful, but the less said about the ummm 'Very Extremely Hot Water Incident' the better, if you know what I mean and I think you do.

Not to change the subject but remember how I wrote about traffic in Cambodia and how you can drive on any side of the road in any direction at any time you want? Well, it turns out that applies at night too. Woooo Hoooo! Yep, I'm here to tell you that pulling into oncoming traffic at night is one hell of a stimulating experience, especially when you factor in the idea that many Cambodians simply don't bother to turn on their headlights at night. I'm not making this up. At least half the motos and cars drive around at night with no lights on whatsoever. It's pretty f*cking exciting and yes, about twice a minute I would scream like a little girl with a spider in her pants.

It's amazing how close you can come to having a head-on collision without actually colliding. In some cases we missed people, cars, and other motos by about the thickness of a credit card. We got so close I could tell what some of the other contestants had had for dinner. I was really sure we would die, but we didn't. After a few close calls we had to go back to the hotel and change my underwear and rinse off, which led to the aforementioned 'Very Extremely Hot Water Incident', but I don't want to talk about that.

December 9th: My fiance and I had a small celebration for our 1 year engagement anniversary, a quiet dinner out at the Tonle Bassac buffet restaurant and then did some scenic cruising around the city. Then we went back to the hotel and wild sex for hours. Or maybe we just went to sleep, I really don't remember.

We went to the Tonle Bassac buffet another night, and I decided that, for a change of pace, I would eat everything that I'd never normally eat. So, I had a variety of things that were a little different. I ate the "Braised Ox Tongue". I had some of the chunks of "Special Superior Young Goat". I ate the "Balls Fish" ( ??? ) and I also ate the "Pan Fried Grouper". I ate the "Crunchy Fried Squid Strips". I choked down a few "Eel Rolls". I ate the "Sauted Pork/Pig Floss". And then I threw up. Haha, I'm kidding, but it was close.

I also had a birthday while I was there this time,and my fiance took me to a place called "I'm Baker" (lol!) to order a cake for my birthday. Yeah, "I'm Baker". I laughed. I was just glad he hadn't called his bakery "I'm Plumber". Some of the store and product names in Cambodia are a bit odd- some are very literal ("The Shoes"), some are kind of fractured English. There are lots of stores whose names are long sentences, like an auto parts store whose name is "Selling All Make Of Car Part And Custom Item And Order Any Thing For Motor". I'm not kidding, that's the name of the store. Or, "Sell All Make Of Shoe To You For Man And Woman And Child". That's the store name, it's on the sales receipt just like that.

There are also a lot of products marked "Hight-Quality", which is actually pretty funny if you think about it for a moment. Maybe the product is high quality, but the ad copy on the box, well, that's another story I guess.

You see that on all sorts of things, so maybe there's really only one guy doing this- he just happens to design a lot of product boxes and writes the ad copy for companies in Phnom Penh.

Some products are just named very simply:

It's just juice. That's all. Juice. Get it?

Mmmmm, Suck Jelly. Tasty.


We saw a few more of those freaky-ass mannequins that scared us silly last time. I overcame my fear and shot some pics of them for posterity. Holy ^%$#@!.

Makes you wanna buy stuff, don't they?

I'm scared, mommy!!!                        Zombie Child?

My fiance's sister had a baby boy just before I came this time, and we went to see her and him. I brought the baby a classic teddy bear to play with but I think bears may have bad connotations in Cambodia. The baby's mom looked at me like, "WTF?? You bring my kid a giant scary baby-eating animal? What is wrong with you white people??"

I could be wrong but that's what I thought the look meant. It could have meant "What a nice and somewhat puzzling toy", but I don't think so. lol. I explained that this big, flesh-eating carnivore was actually a classic, loveable baby toy in America, even though we run from them in real life. This sparked quite a bit of animated discussion between my fiance and her sister, after which my fiance looked at me and said "Okay, we go now". But I'm tellng you- I think they really loved it despite the the fact that they threw us out of their home.

Laughing in Cambodia: laugh all you want, but don't do one of those crazy "Mwuhahahahahahah" laughs. Apparently, in Cambodia laughing like that will make people think you really and truly have a genuine mental health problem and sometimes they may ummm also take offense. Ask me how I know.

Well, I'm glad you asked. See, I got us in a bit of trouble at the Sorya Market while we were in the Sony Electronics store. I happened to see the coolest cellphone there and I lusted after it, and so I went "Mwuhahahahaha!" rather loudly while rubbing my hands together. My eyebrows might have been going up and down a little bit too when I did that. Before you could say "mental patient" there were 3 or 4 salespeople clustering around us (okay, around me). They were talking to my fiance and from what I gathered later, they were giving her a lot of grief for bringing a mentally disturbed "crazy person" (me) into their store where I might run amuck and break stuff or expose myself or god knows what. My fiance explained to them that I was just kidding around, but that was like explaining to the Fire Marshall that you were "just kidding around" when you yelled "FIRE!!!" in a crowded theater. In other words, it just made them even less thrilled with me.

After we were thrown out, errr, I mean "left because we damn well felt like it" my fiance just looked at me and rolled her eyes. She thought it was funny, but I could tell she was also coming to the conclusion that her dearly beloved was a certified nutcase. God I love her for not taking the easy route and having me committed to the Cambodian Home For The Incredibly Annoying. That concluded our shopping for the day. Mwuahahahahah!

(If I ever write a book about this stuff, I'll call it "All The Stupid Things I did In Cambodia", volumes 1 through 7.)

The next day we went to the Central Market and got some really nice dishes and bowls to bring back to the US. (Dishes and bowls and ceramic stuff are very inexpensive in Cambodia.) We got whole bunch of matching pieces (duh) of heat glazed china that has a soft blue color for the glaze. The pieces have holes in the china spaced around the edges, and a rattan border is woven into the holes around the ceramic. It's a little hard to describe but they're really nice looking. The lady selling them made us a really good deal on them- a large set of about 45 pieces came out to about $50 (it would have been at least several hundred $$$$ in the US, and probably more). I started to go "Mwuha-" and my fiance gave me the "Don't You Dare..." look, which I complied with instantly, if not sooner. (Out of about 45 pieces I packed, only 2 got broken in my luggage on the way back, which I considered to be damn lucky.)  Here's a sample of what they look like (a bowl and some of the coasters):

The Nail Stores: All over Cambodia there are these little shops where ladies can get their nails done, but you ain't NEVER seen nothing like the nails they do there. The nails can be astoundingly complex and detailed with all sorts of little beads and flowers and patterns that are mind-boggling. A few pics will illustrate what I mean.

To be honest, these are some of the simpler ones.

Some of the nails are so impractical that you can't do anything while wearing them- you couldn't feed yourself, dial a phone, cook, write, or drive a car. They're a sign of extreme wealth because it shows that you have someone to do all of those things for you. Like these:

See the flower? What could you do wearing something like that on each finger? Some of the nails even have little gold "vanity" chains about 6 inches long with birds and stuff hanging off the ends. I'm not kidding about this, when you wear nails like this it's a sign that you are so wealthy that you don't do anything yourself, your hired help does it all for you. You can't even wipe your own butt when wearing these nails, and again, I'm not kidding.

Toe Socks
One of my fiance's friends had the cutest little socks.
They were so cute I just had to take a picture:

She's a really nice young lady but I had to coax her into letting me take a pic. Every time I'd raise the camera she'd make a hooting noise and run away laughing. Finally my fiance convinced her to stand still for a moment and I was able to photograph her cool toe socks.

We also went to a place called "Maxim", a nifty little lunch place and bar where it's rumored that "couples go to kiss". has these little semi-private rooms made for semi-private kissing, and the entrance to each room is guarded by statues of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I am not making this up:

Why "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles"? I have NO idea. I'm as baffled as you.

And there ya have it, another trip to Phnom Penh that I survived. Mwuahahahahah!!

Click here for the Eighth Trip (,3388.msg115488.html#msg115488) (just below)
The real trouble with reality is that there's no background music.

Lil Me

Hey TB.  Thanks for posting your travel update and photos.
 Congrats to you and your fiancee.  You must be a very happy couple.
"In the absence of clearly-defined goals, we become strangely loyal to performing daily trivia until ultimately we become enslaved by it."  Robert Heinlein


Excellent story again TB.  I've read stuff by notable authors that aren't half as good as your writing.  Love it.

  Thanks for sharing. I can't wait til you go again, just so I can read about    
Sir Isaac Newton invented the swinging door....for the convenience of his cat.


So WHEN is the wedding?

  I thought with this trip, you two were gonna tie the knot?


 YourMixedUpFriend wrote:
So WHEN is the wedding?
Not until she comes here.

I thought with this trip, you two were gonna tie the knot?
 Nope, nope, never said that.
The real trouble with reality is that there's no background music.


"all goes well we'll have a traditional Cambodian wedding [SPAN style="FONT-STYLE: italic"]in Cambodia[/SPAN] sometime in January. "

  Found where you said that in Dec 06 --.....


  " guess it depends what you call long term...we've been enaged since last December and we're getting married later this year. "

  So what's up???


YourMixedUpFriend wrote:Found where you said that in Dec 06 --....."all goes well we'll have a traditional Cambodian wedding in Cambodia sometime in January."

I misspoke. We'll be married here.

"I guess it depends what you call long term...we've been engaged since last December and we're getting married later this year. "

We have been engaged since last December, and we will be getting married later this year, shortly after she arrives in the US. After she's here we have 90 days (by law) to get married. Then we apply for a Change Of Status for permanent residency for her.

So what's up???

Right now our paperwork has been approved and is at the National Visa Center. It's just waiting to get sent out to the embassy in Cambodia. Once it's there they'll contact her to come in for her exit interview. After her interview she'll get a visa and we'll fly back here. So we're thinking it'll likely be February or March before she's finally here.

The real trouble with reality is that there's no background music.



  Well....I sure hope that the paperwork gets done sooner vs. later, I know how happy you two are together and that's what counts!


The Eighth Trip

Wow, this was a fun trip (#8!) and getting out of Cambodia without being incarcerated was a real plus.

As usual, I did the Seattle-Taipei-Cambodia run on EVA Air. The trip itself was uneventful, although I admit that being stuck in a seat for 20 hours is a little less fun each time I do it. My friend 'Run' took the same flight as me this time and we arrived on time with both of our sweethearts waiting for us at Phnom Penh International Airport.

Dishes, Dishes, Dishes
One of the things my fiance and I did this time was to get another huge load of dishes for eventual use in Seattle. I got what must have been about $1000 worth of dishes for $140 and change. This is the same beautiful blue glaze stuff as last time, although this time we got full sized dishes, cups, saucers, etc. We got so much I had to leave some behind- there was just too much to fit in my bags after it was packed for travel. By the way, you cannot buy bubblewrap in Phnom Penh at any price. You can scrounge some up from auto part stores, but it just isn't for sale anywhere (and believe me, we looked). This fact alone, I believe, explains America's superiority over Cambodia in matters of commerce and standard of living.
Some of our dishes in their native habitat:

I'm happy to report that every single dish, plate, and cup (about 60 pieces) made it home in perfect condition, not a single broken or cracked piece in the bunch. I did get into a bit of a skirmish with the baggage monkey at SeaTac airport, however. He was taking the bags as they came off the conveyor and literally throwing them into a huge pile. When the pile got to be too big to toss bags on top of, he just started throwing them OVER the pile to the other side. What a dick. When my first bag appeared I stepped in to grab it and shouted "Whoah, wait wait wait, there's china in there, it's fragile, let me get it please." The baggage monkey took offense at my bizarre request and got all official with me, "You'll have to step back sir, blah blah security blah blah terrorists blah...." Yeah, like that's going to happen after all I've been through, lol. I grabbed my bag and told him that I'd flown this  stuff all the way from Cambodia and if I wanted it broken, I'd damn well do it myself. The scene was repeated for the second bag as well- "step back sir, blah blah blah". No fricking way, Mr Baggage Monkey. I grabbed the second bag and told him "Yeah, right, this is me and I'm stepping back- WITH MY BAG thankyouverymuch.".

Traffic Cops - Pay Me Now, Or Pay Me Now
While driving down Monivong Boulevard one day I got waved over by a Phnom Penh extortionist, I mean traffic cop.  I couldn't figure out what I'd done wrong- did I turn in a "go straight" lane or did I go straight in a "turn" lane? Apparently I did neither- what I did is known as "driving while being a tourist". The cop saw me, figured I could afford a fine, and waved me over. My fiance started yelling at him and that worried the hell out of me. Things got a a bit errr heated, and he asked me (through my fiance) for my license. Riiiiiiiiiiight,  I mean it's pretty obvious that I'm not from around these parts, you know? Like I'm really gonna have a valid Cambodian drivers license. Duh. So I gave him my Washington State license and he examined it for a while, but he wasn't very convincing as he was holding it upside down the whole time (lol!).

I told my fiance to tell the cop that it was an "International" license and was good "in all civilized countries all over the world" and so I didn't need an actual Cambodian driver's license. Since the cop couldn't read or speak English, it sort of worked but I still had to pay 5000 reals for my unspecified offense (about $1.25). My fiance really lit into him then and he started yelling, she started yelling louder, all his cop buddies came over to see what was the trouble....hoo boy. I listened to all the commotion thinking to myself, "Shit, I am SO going to jail". The cop would yell something at me, my fiance would yell something at him, and round and round we went. But she didn't back down and apparently ORDERED him to give me back my license, which he reluctantly did. Being a complete idiot, I asked my fiance if I was going to get a receipt for my payment. She looked at me as though I had said something even stupider than normal and told me, "No get receipt for bribe."

It turns out that you can pay your fine on the spot (how convenient!) and I guarantee you that not a nickel of your fine makes it into the city's books- it goes right into the cop's pocket. Don't want to burden City Hall with unecessary paperwork, right?

After a few more choice comments to him from my fiance, we were allowed to drive off. That's when she explained to me that I hadn't done anything wrong (except for being a  tourist on the wrong street in Phnom Penh).

Fishing for Lunch
We went to a really cool little place way outside of town- it's a little place on a lake and there are all of these nice little gazebos that sit out on the banks of the lake. They give you a fishing pole and some bait and you go fishing for your lunch. If you catch a fish they cook it for you and serve it up on a platter. You can also buy lunch there if you want, and that's a good thing because we didn't catch a damn thing all morning long. We would have starved to death if we had to rely on our skills as anglers. The worst part is that the fish were jumping out of the water all over the place further out in the lake, but our poles couldn't reach that far. Hmmmm, what a coincidence. My fiance has gone there a whole bunch of times and has always caught something, but those damn fish were just too scared of me to come close to where we were. Yeah, that must have been what it was....all in all though, it was a lot of fun, right up to the part where we drove home and I ran over two little Cambodian schoolgirls and killed them. (

Running Over Cambodian Schoolgirls
Okay, I didn't really kill them, but I came awfully damn close. Before I say anything else, I'd like to apologize to the two young ladies I almost killed. They know who they are (and they're probably still having nightmares about the whole thing). I hope you live long and happy lives, but that probably won't happen unless you stay off the road while I'm in your lovely country.

Here's what happened....

We were zooming home on the moto. I was driving and I was going about 50 or so along this fairly busy highway road. For some completely inconceivable reason, these two schoolgirls about 10 years old decided to do something utterly insane, namely, cross the road while I was driving nearby. I mean really, what were they thinking? Haven't they read about my moto driving?

So, they start to cross the road. I spot them and start to veer to the right to avoid them. They move forward a step so now I'm coming right at them again. They step back just as I overcorrect and again we end up on a collision course.

75 meters and closing fast. They start forward again just as I change course and I veer toward them again. Ooops. Now they freeze, one foot in the air, trying to discern just what the f*ck I'm doing. What I'm doing, of course, is heading right for them like a fricking cruise missile.

50 meters to go and their mouths are open in anticipation of their imminent death. (Since they're only 10 years old it probably didn't take long for their lives to flash in front of their eyes.) I heroically apply the moto's handbrake, but did I mention that I was a) going really fast, and b) still heading right for them?

40 meters. Shit, this is looking really bad. I put a Terminator-like death-grip on the handbrake, and now the scene resembles one of those Driver's Education movies, you know, the one where they show that slow motion collision inside a car. Our sudden slowing causes my fiance and I to slide forward on the moto, our hair and clothing is pulled forward from the G-forces, pens and pencils are flying out of our pockets, and we're all doing that slowed-down yelling thing, just like in the film, "Nooooooooooooooooooo........"

25 meters left and and I'm still racing right at them like Rosie O'Donnel running for the refrigerator. I'm crushing the handbrake so hard it's almost to the handlebar. The brutal deceleration causes my fiance's head to impact the back of my neck, causing her teeth and jaws to snap shut with a very audiable "CLACK" noise. I hear her yell something but it's muffled by the fact that her face is now sort of forcefully buried between my shoulder blades. I think she might have been telling me what a great and skillful moto driver I am, but I could be mistaken here.

Oh dear. 10 meters left. Game over. By this time the front tire is now locked up and we're skidding on the pavement, but I don't dare turn even a little bit because that would definitely throw Sakha and I right off the moto, giving us a short aerial view of Phnom Penh just before we would hit headfirst into the roadway divider wall, which has thoughtfully been made of solid concrete. (No, we weren't wearing any helmets. Where would be the sport in that?)

So, I can't turn, the moto is skidding, and we're all basically screwed. The schoolgirls are still frozen solid and we're about to squash them like bugs. At this moment I manage to downshift straight from 4th gear to 2nd gear. Wow, talk about instant deceleration. The moto's transmission makes a terrible screaming noise like an overheated starship engine and the added deceleration causes my fiance's head to once more slam into the back of my neck. I hear her teeth make that *CLACK* noise again. I'm hoping her tongue wasn't in the way, but mostly I'm getting a really up-close and personal look at the schoolgirls eyes, which by this time are about the size of dinner plates.

Thanks to my downshifting we come to a very dramatic screeching stop with the front wheel of the moto ending up less than a centimeter from the tips of the first schoolgirl's Hello Kitty sneakers. I smell urine. Maybe it's mine, maybe it's the schoolgirls, but I didn't have time to ponder that because now the front shock absorber of the moto springs back from it's hyper-compressed position, causing the moto to lurch backwards a little bit, which causes me to lurch backwards a little bit, which drives the back of my head into my fiance's mouth one last time. I hear the aforementioned *CLACK* noise yet again. My fiance screams another somewhat muffled comment, again probably something about how much she loves me but I don't speak Khmer so I'm not really sure. But that's what I'd guess she said.

I look at the schoolgirls (still frozen solid with that deer-in-the-headlights look) and I say "Hi!", probably a little too loudly. I think I startled them because the paralysis instantly left their bodies and they started scrambling backwards blindly, trying to get back to the safety of the roadway divider. They actually went up the divider thingy backwards, no kidding.

My fiance called out to them in Khmer (probably telling them that I was a great moto driver and not to worry), but by then they were running along the roadway divider away from us, occasionally looking back over their shoulders to see if I was following them (I wasn't).

My fiance was so exhilirated by this whole thing that she insisted on driving the rest of the way home. I mean she really, really insisted.

When we got home, I told her that since this was my first real Combat Kill (well, almost) in Cambodian traffic that I should get some recognition of it. I showed her these little drawings I had made and taped to the moto- they were two little silhouettes of a pony-tailed schoolgirl's head with a big "X" over it, just like the fighter aces used to do in World War II when they shot down an enemy plane.

      Credit for two kills
( (
My fiance pretended she didn't like them and scraped them off with a nail file. While she was scraping them off she was muttering to herself, "I cannot believe I'm marrying this..." and then she used some Cambodian word. It was a really short word but I think it meant something like "creative guy" or "wonderful man" or something like that. Then she took a bunch of Advil. The next morning she said her teeth and jaw felt much better.

(Footage from my gun camera later revealed that had I been using live ammo, I would have completely smoked those schoolgirls butts for sure.)

When my fiance told this story to her family (in Cambodian), she made all the appropriate back-and-forth motions and screeching noises and ended up by holding her fingers about an inch apart for them to see. This must have really impressed her family with my awesome moto driving skills because they were very quiet and (probably out of respect) avoided me completely for the next few days, but then they got over their awe of my incredibleness and things returned to normal.

Weird Hooting Noises Cambodian Girls Make
I don't know what to tell you, but this is just weird. Sometimes when Cambodian ladies get all worked up about something they will all (in unison) make this "whooowoooowoooo" noise. For example, I bought my fiance this Louis Vitton handbag. Apparently it is THE handbag to end all handbags, period, end of story, go home. If you carry this handbag you are too cool and every woman within 500km must bow to you and tell you that they like your handbag. Now, I'll be really honest here- it looks terrible to me. It's looks like it's been stitched together from like 5 other handbags, none of which match AT ALL. It's just freakin' hideous. It looks like it has a mutant handbag growing out of the side, plus all sorts of chains and things flopping around. You couldn't bury me with one of these, but for the ladies it's like dying and going to heaven. So I got her one.
[img width=302 height=286p]
When we visited the place she used to work you'd have thought the Pope had arrived. All of the girls went into this frenzy, making the aforementioned hooting noise and they clustered around my fiance like she was a movie star, admiring her Louis Vitton bag. Then they all kissed her toes and swore their loyalty to her till the End Of Time. Wait, I made that last part up, but only just barely. (I should mention that the real LV bag sells for like $3,000.00 and no way I'm insane enough to spend that much on something like that. You couldn't buy the real thing in Cambodia if you wanted, but you can buy spot-on copies for about $35 or so.)

Valentines Day
Yes, Cambodia has been infected with Valentines Day, or as we guys call it, "Romances' Answer To April 15th". All sorts of little steetside stalls spring up offering candy and flowers. I was driving Sakha somewhere on the moto (did I mention what a great moto driver I am?) and I pulled over to buy her some roses. I told her to pick out a bouquet, and she pulled a single flower out of the basket. Oh, please, I'm not going to fly all the way to Southeast Asia and buy one flower! So I grabbed one of the nicer  bouquets but she didn't want it- she kept holding up the one forlorn little flower and telling me "Simple, simple, no, simple!" She really doesn't want me to spend money on stuff like that, lol. But after a little back and forth I got her a nice bouquet and off we went. Wow, everywhere we went all the other women looked at her enviously and would smile at me, then they'd turn to their husband or boyfriend and pound him on the arm for not getting them a bouquet. The guys looked at me like, "Oh you bastard, now I've gotta buy her flowers. Thanks a lot." But the ladies dug it and Sakha was the envy of most of the city. Cambodian men are about as romantic as wet bricks and they don't go for that stuff unless it's at gunpoint.

Drilling For Oil In Our Hotel Room
We stayed at the New York Hotel this time, and the room was very nice. But, every so often we'd hear this noise, or more accurately, this NOISE. I swear to god it sounded like they were drilling for oil in the room next door. It was so loud that everytime it started up it would shake the room and we'd jump about a foot. "BR-R-R-R-BAMBAMBAMBAM-DDD-BAM-RRRRRRR!" We never did figure out what it was. We were too scared to go out into the hall and see what was making the NOISE.

What To Do When They Insist You CANNOT Take A Picture
Lots of places will tell you quite firmly that you can't take pictures, like malls, stores, resturants, etc. Just take a picture anyway:

Me (taking pictures): click, click, click
Store Owner: Please, you cannot take picture in here!
Me: Okay. (click, click, clickclickclick) I won't. Clickclickclick.
Store Owner: No, you cannot. Is not allowed!
Me: I see (clickclickclick). Why is (click) that? (click)
Store Owner: Is rule, no picture, no take any picture here!
Me: Ah, (click) I understand. (clickclickclick)

You get the idea. Never ask them first! Remember kids- it's easier to get forgiveness than permission.  By the time they're done telling you "no", you got your pictures. You can also point the camera at whatever you want to take a picture of (like a guard with a gun, for example) and quietly press the shutter button while you politely ask if you can take their picture. If they decline, say "Okay" and walk away. For god's sake, remember to TURN OFF YOUR AUTOMATIC FLASH or you can get yourself in big, big trouble. Ask me how I know.

You can also pretend not to speak English. Pretend you're a German tourist:

Me (taking pictures): zeclick, zeclick, zeclicken
Store Owner: Please, you cannot take picture in here!
Me: Yah. (zeclick, zeclick, zeclickclickclick) Wilkommen da biergarten. ZeClickclickclick.
Store Owner: No, you cannot. Is not allowed!
Me: Jahwol, mien putzengruben! (zeclickclickclick). Vast ist der autobahn (zeclick) schnitzel? (click)
Store Owner: Is rule, no picture, no take any picture here!
Me: Vost? (zeclicken) Pleben der schnitzel haus. (zeclick,click,click)

By the way, the rough translation of the "German" above is "Welcome to the beer garden", Yes, my putzen something", "This is the autobahn sausage", and "Paint the sausage house". Or something like that. (Hell, I don't know, I don't speak German!)

The Magic Traffic Horn
Driving in Cambodia is a lot of fun (especially if you're a great moto driver like me) and one of the secrets to success is to be "BAD". That's "Bold, Audacious, and Decisive". In other words, go for it. When you come to an intersection you must pretend that you don't see the other drivers coming the other way. They will pick up on the fact that you don't see them and they'll slow down or go around you instead of making you stop for them. Also, it's critically important that while you're pretending that you don't see them, you also use your horn for its  tactical "first strike" capability. [span style="font-weight: bold; font-style: italic;"]Beep beep, beepbeepbeepbeep[/span]. That way they KNOW you're coming and have to pay attention to you no matter what. Don't overdo it though. Only use your horn 90% of the time. I am firmly convinced that you could drive from one end of Cambodia to the other without stopping (or even slowing) if you just taped your horn button down and pretended not to see the other drivers.

When crossing intersections you can also use a car as a shield, just drive alongside them and cling to them when they cross the intersection. No one wants to hit a car so the cross-traffic will stop or slow to allow the car (and you) to go by. Mwuhahahahah!

True story: My fiance used to always tap me on the shoulder when I went "too fast" and she'd say "No hurry, no hurry honey!". I told her that was very distracting and was likely to cause me to have an accident. Now all she says from time to time is "Uh oh".

The Prohibited Fruit
There is a *very* delicious kind of fruit sold in Cambodia. I cannot pronounce its name, but it's spiky-looking and very big (see picture). It's absolutely to DIE for, it's that good. Very expensive but worth every penny. It has a very powerful and distinctive aroma and most hotels have a picture of the fruit with the international "NO" symbol over it posted at the elevators. You are not allowed to take the fruit into the hotel because of its overpowering smell. You buy it and the stall owner slices it open and deftly removes the meaty blobs inside like he was doing a cesarean or something. It's repulsive looking but so so so delicious.

More scary mannequins
A few more pics of mannequins. God help me, I never get tired of having the living crap scared out of me by these things.  Use 'em to scare your kids if they're been bad.
( (
( (


Ummm,, wait a minute...that's a GUY with BREASTS...

Good Advice
A few signage shots from various places. I like the "Be Careful" one. That's just good advice whether you're driving, making love, searching for landmines, or (as in this case) stepping onto an escalator. I apologize for the blurry "Be careful Your Head" shot, it was made on a moving escalator. I hate to think what prompted them to put up that sign. (



Transporting Stuff By Moto
As you can see, anything and everything is transported by moto. These are just a few shots of various things being catred around the city on motos. It's the standard form of transport for virtually everything, animal, mineral, or vegetable.
( (
( (
( (
( (
( (
( (

You get the idea. If it can be carried, it will be carried.

Multiple Moto Passengers
This is also very very common. Seeing 3, 4 or even 5 or 6 people (including babies) on a single moto going somewhere is quite common. Do that in the US or Canada and the cops would write you so many tickets you could wallpaper Disneyland with them. And helmets are uncommon, at most maybe 1 in 10 or 20 people use them.
] (] (] ( (
( ([/img]
( (
( (

Romantic Love Rubber
I really have no idea what this is and I'm not sure I want to. But it was too good of a picture to pass up!

Double Happiness Cigarettes
Gotta love it- I'm only surpised that there wasn't a tagline like "Now With Twice The Cancer!"

Funeral Scene
Outside one of the markets I saw all these people dressed sort of like KKK members. It wasn't a KKK rally, it was a funeral and the custom is to burn the body and throw paper messages on the funeral pyre to speed the departed soul to Heaven.

Terrible Sounds All Around
Outside of some of the markets there are these people who set up a mobile computer station and then play 10-second clips of the WORST music you've ever heard, one clip after another. If you want you can pay them a little money and they'll beam the song to your phone for use as a ringtone. They play the worst music imaginable, and at very VERY loud volumes. When you get 5 or 6 of these idiots doing it at the same time it sounds even worse. There aren't words bad enough to describe it, but I came up with a phrase that comes close: "Ear Diarrhea". Because the term "Loud Shitty Music From Hell" doesn't quite cover it.

Burned Out Buildings
These date from the time of Pol Pot and all of the horror that took place during his genocidal regime. In some places you can still see bullet holes and other evidence of the fighting that went on. "During his time in power Pol Pot imposed a version of agrarian collectivization whereby city dwellers were forcibly marched out to the countryside to work in collective farms and forced labour projects, conceived as a restarting of civilization in 'Year Zero'. The combined effect of slave labour, malnutrition, poor medical care and executions had an estimated death toll of 750,000 to 1.7 million. His regime achieved special notoriety for singling out all intellectuals and other 'bourgeois enemies' for murder."

Some monks going about their daily routine of traveling around the neighborhoods blessing people and receiving donations.

Weird Art Stuff
You, yes YOU can own this delightful picture of a scowling Ayatollah for only $30 Wouldn't this look great on your living room wall? Answer; Hell no, it would not. Why anyone would buy this is beyond me. Completely beyond me. That's my fiance holding it up, by the way. Isn't she cute?  :)

The Alien Bar
I was afraid to go inside for fear of being ummm "probed" if you know what I mean and I think you do.

Electrical Wiring
Nothing odd about this, it's an example of the basic wiring all over the country. This is outside my fiance's apartment, by the way. Notice the dangling wires? They're live.

Also, in the market you can get killer deals on some things, like cashews. A brick of 8 kilos -about 17 pounds- of cashews goes for around $10.

Dressed for Reentry
At the airport there was this woman dressed in a tinfoil dress. The picture doesn't show it as shiny as it was, but I swear she looked like she was dressed for reentry from orbit.

Well, that's about it. I hope ya enjoyed this latest look at Cambodia!
The real trouble with reality is that there's no background music.


Thanks for the story TB! The narrative how you look at it tongue in cheeck makes it all the better! Glad you made it safe and sound.

I know what you mean about the Durian (sp?) fruit, they had the same warnings at the hotel i stayed at in china.
Mercy to the Guilty is Torture to the Victims



Thanks for sharing TB!  LOVE the are just too sweet, for spoiling your Fiance. :)  


Awesome and hilarious coverage as usual TB.  Each story gets better and better....I love it !
Sir Isaac Newton invented the swinging door....for the convenience of his cat.


Michel wrote:
LOL I'm curious (well not really) to smell that fruit. It must smell really strong.[/DIV]
 Go to an asian market....frozen food section.  Likely the frozen  yellow meat of the fruit is sold in packages.  Sniff the outside of the plastic likely will smell the stink, the fruit is a thousand times worst