‘Wats’ in Cambodia’?’ Day 143: The Joys of Air-Con

I took the long, long, long slow boat ferry back to the mainland of Sihanoukville after solving a disagreement with the Cambodian in charge of the boat, who originally would not accept my ticket. I don’t cope well with people trying to screw me over, nor should I. This Cambodian vessel dropped me off in the middle of nowhere in some industrial harbor far away from the trash filled beaches of Sihanoukville. Out of necessity, two English/Australian girls and I teamed up for a tuk-tuk ride to the city center. Our options for rides were never limited as throngs of moto and tuk-tuk drivers awaited our arrival at the pier with calls of “friend, tuk-tuk/moto?” (this is one thing I will never miss back home as I have grown to despise such an experience with full-blooded hatred even though they are just doing their jobs but I hate it nonetheless). Even though I could have found cheaper rooms in Sihanoukville I wanted to experience air-con once more after the sweat soaked days of past. I had no desire to go to the beach or experience anything in Sihanoukville; this would be a business trip to rest up, get some wi-fi, and purchase a bus ticket to Ho Chi Minh City. Originally I wanted to visit Kratie in the north of Cambodia to see the rare Irawaddy dolphins of the Mekong River (probably less than 100 of the species still swim in existence) but I was running out of time with my visa and now ready to begin my Vietnamese journey. After some price checking around the many travel agencies lining the streets, I bought a day bus ticket to HCMC that would take the entire day for a grand total of 12 bloody hours. Ideally, I would have secured a night bus there to sleep through the night but all were booked and I sure as heck wasn’t going to waste more time in Sihanoukville. For lunch and dinner, I ate at the same pop up restaurant as before (located in the night market near the Golden Lions statue). The restaurant has probably a dozen pots sitting atop a table with various soups and vegetable/meat dishes to choose from along with the various fish and other mystery meats resting behind the glass like a bakery shop. Lunch went smoothly but dinner not so much. Earlier at lunch I ate a delicious medley highlighted by eggplant so in my efforts to experience the tasty eggplant again I pointed at a pot thick with broth along with floating eggs and what appeared to be chunks of eggplant as one of my three choices to go with the rice. The ‘eggplant’ had those same small pearled orbs like any eggplant seeds you and I have ever seen along with the thick and firm skin as the exterior. However, when I scooped the specimen onto my bed of rice I noticed a few hairs extending from the skin fully intact. Along with the jiggly flubber as the supposed meat of the eggplant, I now realized that I was staring down at some animal skin and fat (probably a pig) from some unknown location of the animal’s body. I tossed the entirety of that flesh aside to resume my meal as before. While I sat and drank the restaurant’s cool tea, two Cambodian men talked amongst each other while clearly eyeing what I had just done, scrapping some precious delicacy of theirs. Although most backpackers tend to eat at the restaurant bars filled with Western favorites and safe Asian dishes, I choose to skirt that experience for the more local feel and the oddities that may come from it. Each time I had eaten there, I was the only white person around with the exception of one soul patch, pony-tailed older hipster. I fell asleep early thanks to the almighty A/C.

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