Back to the city

Day XL – April 27

Those cows that walk around town at all these random places, freely; it’s not like they don’t belong to anyone, but they’re not really ‘owned’ either.
I wonder, how do you tell which are yours?
But I guess it’s a bit like the bikes we’re using now. We call them ‘my bike’ because we are used to the word ‘mine’. But they’re Greenway bikes, Mr Ya’s bikes. He calls them ‘the bikes’ though. There are no locks on them, but no one would steel them, no matter where in town we’d park them.
Yesterday at the orphanage the one Rikke is using was borrowed. Five minutes later it was returned though, no harm done.
A little left-over of communism I guess, like there are so many in daily life. There is no ‘mine’ or ‘yours’; there’s not even a translation for the word – everything is collective goods. And when someone has had a bad harvest or needs money to repair his home, neighbors and friends; the community, will step in to lend a helping hand. This seems to be a sense of compassion still so much alive in all these countries I’ve visited.
You don’t see that anywhere in the western world anymore.

I thought time would slow down out here, being in one place, having a daily routine.
It hasn’t one bit. We’re about halfway but it still feels like we only just got started.
And the classes this morning: after explaining the stuff we put on the poster, there was hardly any time left; it just flew right by.
Next time I’m doing a project like this I will be sure to take more time, 6 weeks at least.

This heat makes for an unquenchable thirst for sodapops, and for swollen legs and ankles. It’s quite tiring.
And also means showering before 10pm has no use, and falling asleep is hard to do. And waking up before 6am is a given. And the worst is there is nowhere to swim. I really hope we’ll find a pool in Siem Reap this weekend.
Hard knock life in Cambodia…

Yeah I guess we do stink after a hot day like this in class. The taxidriver that came to pick us up, just pulled over to buy a facemask.

After the modest settlements by the road, it’s an insane sight to be driving into Siem Reap over the highway, which takes us along all those huge resorts. All that fake glamour is quite nauseating once you’ve seen the real life.

We made sure to book our night at Garden Village Guesthouse this time. And when we get there we’re shown to our rooms, with actual roomnumbers and everything.
But it’s so much better; their dorm rooms have a single wall and a roof, but otherwise it’s outside; just a bed and a net – what else would you need?
The ‘room’number is written on a paper, hung on a corner of the net.
Amongst about 10 doublebeds there are 2 bathrooms to share, just the simple toilet/shower combo you see in every budget hostel. Plain, but just fine by me.

I’m starting to get a little worried about my leg. Putting bandaids on it reverses the healing process so much it has now turned into a bright red wound. But the minute I walk outside, I catch a fly feeding on me…

We have dinner at one of the stands along the curb, where we find a pearl of Engrish on the menu; right in between the pork dishes there is one named ‘spicy porn’. Great food. And after missing my daily fruitshake for a week –I’ve not seen them yet in Samraong- it’s a relief to find them on the specials card.

We meet the other Greenway girls for a cocktail at happyhour.

Is this the first time I mention happy hour? I only started noticing in Vietnam, how they don’t really get the concept but handle it like: it’s an hour and we’re happy. It can apply to anything; clothing, food, drinks… and it can mean any sort of deal but usually something different than the second-for-free deal that we know.

And what do you know; at the place nextdoor, right across from me, sits Rob, the Scot I met in Spicy Laos, Luang Prabang, Laos. He’s been taking a different route, but still it’s impossible to meet someone just once on this Southeast Asia backpacker trail.

After the mandatory second cocktail we proceed to bar Angkor What?! for a dance and more drinks. Yun and I decide we need a shooter, so bend over the menu and pick something all us 6 girls might like; peachvodka it is. Sounds sweet right? Well it doesn’t taste it.
Did the trick though, so we merge in the crowd of crazy crazy party party for an hour or so and dance away to all the classics – 2 Unlimited, Vengaboys, 2 Brothers On The 4th Floor – and the new classics, those bakcpackerhits you hear everywhere – Swedish House Maffia, Bruno Mars, Rhianna.
I guess we do; Mariella’s decided we need another bucket.
Once tired we sit down at Temple Bar for a Tombraider -supposedly Angelina Jolies invention- a nice mix of bitter lemon, lime and vodka.
Eventually we get a little shattered, some going home, some making out with a boy that just randomly joined our table; the way it goes at partyparty. Some wallflowers and some party hardies.
I end up on the dancefloor with 2 girls that are here on vacation from Phnom Penh, a 16 year old and her 20 year old cousin as her chaperone. I don’t know if they are rich and famous or how they ended up in a club this late, but they appear pretty modern.
That I’m talking to a boy though, makes them a giggle, and they joke at me like he’s my boyfriend. Yeah he was hitting on me, but a little drunk too, and other than that I just wasn’t attracted to him. Suddenly the girls don’t seem all too modern anymore…

At 2am I decide to go to bed; Pat, Rikke and I are supposed to meet for breakfast at 10am. I walk home alone and at the end of Pub St Alley the ambush of tuktukdrivers awaits me. I tell them I will be fine and will just walk, but one of them keeps insisting: “I go home now, I go that way, I take you there, no charge.” Too sweet an offer to decline. Everybody is so friendly here, for a big city, but then I guess Siem Reap isn’t that big after all.

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