Just got back from a three day trip to Cambodia. Ended up going with my Vietnamese friend Phuong, buddy Axel and friend of a friend Michael from Denmark. It was nothing like I expected and reminds me a lot of Vietnam except a little bit more “earthy.” My first impression was of course of the airport which is brand new and a beautiful, small building. When we walked out the front door I kind of expected to see a hoard of people like at the Saigon airport but instead walked out to a very peaceful, clean environment with a nice food court and Dairy Queen. Yes Dairy Queen!!! Phuong’s friend was going to pick us up so we sat down and I treated myself to a chocolate dipped vanilla ice cream cone that only Dairy Queen knows how to do.
It was while eating my ice cream that I found out exactly who Phuong’s friend was and it turned out he was the chief of police for Phnom Penh (Mr. U for this story) as well as owned his own computer stores. So it was a bit surreal to be picked up in a Lexus SUV in one of the poorest countries on earth. We first drove to his shop to say hello to his parents and see what kind of store he had. It was a very nice shop, just like you would find in the USA except smaller.
After that was done we found our hotel on Sisowath Quay which is a nice little strip full of foreigner friendly restaurants, bars and hotels. We didn’t have reservations but had done our research and went to California Hotel. Axel had tried to make reservations by e-mail but they never answered. When we showed up they said they don’t check the e-mail that often and were unfortunately out of room.
As we were leaving I noticed a bunch of shady looking foreigners sitting outside and some just staring out into space. I returned to this place 5 hours later and one of the guys was still there staring at nothing. We finally found a decent place on the corner and settled in. Mr. U went back to do some business and we parked ourselves on the corner and ordered up some Ankor beer which I have never seen a bottle less than 40 ounces. After about two hours we were picked up again by Mr. U and taken to “The Cambodian Club” which was a large restaurant and had a huge stage with singers, comedians and regular customers singing Karaoke. The food was much like Vietnamese for me, but Phuong didn’t like it so much since it wasn’t exactly like Vietnamese food.
When the show was done Mr. U drove us back to our hotel and we said goodnight. We then went to a bar not far from the hotel and started to a get a bit drunk and the night became more and more hilarious. It was a Sunday night so not a whole lot going on but we managed to find a decent bar called the “Walkabout” and it was basically full of working girls. We chatted with one who was Vietnamese and she said that the working conditions in Vietnam were terrible so she came to Cambodia. Phuong told us later she probably couldn’t get a job because she was too ugly for Vietnam (Phuong says the darndest things at just the right time that make you laugh even though they are the farthest away from Political Correctness you can get).
We then went out to the patio and saw about 4 drunk Africans walking down the street. Three adult males tried to ride one motor scooter and as he was trying to turn around he couldn’t hold the bike and all three tumbled off into the street. It looked exactly like something you would see a bunch of clowns at the circus do and we all had to put our heads down and try to smother the laughter so as not to get beat up. They then just left the poor driver of a broken motor scooter and got on the other friends bike who unfortunately did not tumble as well.
The second moment of intense hilarity was something uttered by a guy we kinda know. Let me back up…. This guy who I’ll call Bret for this story is someone Phuong met in Vietnam and both Axel and I had met once. Almost everything that comes out of his mouth is some comment about sex. Bret also loves hookers. Axel and I had met him at different times but were able to verify it was the same guy by his non-stop sex lines. He was in Cambodia for “tourism” and Phuong had somehow figured this out and invited him to meet up with us. We told Michael that he would not stop the sex lines and to be ready. I sat with him through dinner with Mr. U and while we were watching the show the cheesy sex lines kept coming.
First, the performers were singing happy birthday to someone in the audience, and he said “It’s not my birthday unless she’s in her birthday suit!.” I rolled my eyes and drank more beer. Axel and Michael both heard and we tried to conceal a smile. The second one was when I commented on the performers “Bibs” or farmer pants and said I hadn’t seen those being worn since the 8th grade. To this, Bret replied, “They would look good on the floor next to my bed.”
So back to my story at the bar and the second funny thing. After we had just watched the Africans take a tumble, two working girls took an interest in Bret and started to chat him up. They offered him a seat to which he said “Aw, no thanks I’ve got a stiff back ……Pause…… ” But that’s not all that’s stiff.”
Then I couldn’t hold it anymore and and practically spit out my beer as the laughs came loud and hard. Everyone else burst as well until Axel just gives him a serious look with a smirk and says “It’s just pathological with you isn’t it.”
So after we caught our breath, it was on to the next place. We hired a “tuk-tuk” which is a small carriage pulled by a motor scooter. We had the driver take us to a disco that was supposed to be cool but didn’t have many people in it. So we walked back outside and stood by the tuk-tuk to try to figure out where to go. It was then that a hot girl drove up in an SUV and stopped right across the street from us. Mind you, this is Cambodia and not too many nice cars around like this girl had. She then drove off but came back two more times. I thought she might be checking us out so I tried to make eye contact. But unfortunately, she blew me off and drove away. It was then I realized I was sitting in a tuk tuk with about three other drunk westerners and perhaps our tuk tuk didn’t have enough bling for her.
As soon as it came to me and being drunk as I was I just couldn’t stop laughing. Everyone asked me what was going on and after I had explained and caught my breath enough to blurt out “That was probably the uncoolest I have ever looked in my life!!” they all erupted in laughter as well. The Bret blurts out “And it’s not even OUR Tuk Tuk!!!” we couldn’t stop laughing until we hit the next bar.
But when we got there I was completely tired and just wanted to go home. Bret went in, found some prostitutes and decided to stay while the rest of us left and went to bed.
We then got up, went to Ankor Wat and saw the temples. The temples were amazing and if you want to know about them then please do a Google search so I don’t have to describe them here. But I will describe the bus ride there as it was intense.
We were in a bus and the street for the 5 hour drive there is now paved but still fraught with peril. We almost hit a drunk/crazy guy standing in the street and not moving even though the bus was really truckin. The driver had to swerve to miss him and as I looked at the driver through the mirror afterwards, I could tell it had really shaken him up which is hard to do to a Cambodian driver. We also almost hit a puppy who didn’t move and as we couldn’t stop or swerve had to go right over the thing. But it didn’t hit the tires and as I looked back it was perfectly fine.
Ok, I’m tired of blogging. All in all I think Cambodia is a fine place and one that all you young travelers out there should visit. If your older or not used to traveling or haven’t been to the third world before, it’s better to give it a miss.