What if I gave you one million dollars for one night with your wife?
That’s the line Robert Redford drops on Woody Harrelson and Demi Moore, or something close to that. That’s also the question Jay and I just talked about while sitting in our hotel room in Cambodia. Traveling and lack of money puts some crazy ideas in your head.
I think I’d get jealous if a dude offered Jay a million dollars just to play video games with her for a night. ‘Was he a better gamer than me? How’d he beat this level? What tactic did he use on this boss?’ I’d end up using my half of the million buying cheat codes and hiring a 14 year old to train me in the art of Xbox.
It’s all a moot point as we’re both close to positive no one is going to pay us a million dollars. However, we’re both keeping an open mind for any willing benefactor that may be reading this.
So like I said, Cambodia…
First impressions: I’m not crazy about this place.
A plane from Krabi, to Bangkok, three hour layover, plane to Siem Reap.
Sidebar: This situation has happened to us twice now, the first time on our way back from Nova Scotia, and the second going from Bangkok to Siem Reap.
You are assigned a seat. Imagine that? It’s printed on that magical piece of paper called your boarding pass. The whole getting on a plane concept is pretty much based on the idea that on this magical piece of paper you have a seat you are to sit in. It’s not a concert in a parking lot, the seats are assigned where they’re assigned for a variety of reasons, including people paying for them, weight and balance of the plane, so you know, the plane doesn’t do something silly, like crash, and other reasons.
So please, ignorant travelers, don’t just sit wherever you damn well please and then act surprised when you’re in someone else’s seat, just because you wanted to sit beside your girlfriend. When you’re forced to move, you create a hassle for everyone around you that now has to move to accommodate something you should have gotten right the first time, and you create a stoppage for all the people behind you that now have to wait before they can get past you to get to their own assigned seats.
Jay and I weren’t sitting together from Taiwan to Bangkok, so we waited until the plane was fully boarded, then asked the gentleman who was sitting beside me if he was traveling alone, then asked if he wouldn’t mind moving so Jay and I could sit together. He ended up having the whole aisle to himself.
We weren’t sitting beside each other from Bangkok to Siem Reap either, but the people in both my row and Jay’s row were couples, so we knew we couldn’t ask them. We just dealt with it because, you know, it’s not the end of the world. If you’re not sitting together, just deal with it instead of looking like an idiot and inconveniencing those around you.
Customs was easy enough. Visas, easy enough. Our hotel sent a driver for us. I’ve never had someone hold up my name on a sign before, so that was a cool experience. He drove us on his tuk tuk, which seem to change in every region we visit. For example, a tuk tuk in Bangkok looks like a tricycle. A tuk tuk in other areas of Thailand is a motorbike with a cart attached to the side. The tuk tuks here seem to be a motorbike with a two-wheeled wagon attached to the back. Sorry, that’s exactly what it is.
The hotel we’re staying at is the Soria Moria. Everyone here is very nice and the majority of the people here speak English very well. There’s a rooftop bar and hot tub with a pool on the ground floor. The ‘exercise’ room is much to be desired, but the hotel is very nice.
Apparently, everyone that works here is also a part owner. I’m guessing it’s a West Jet type of thing. Tonight they’re having a staff party and they invited everyone staying at the hotel to join them, offering free food and drinks. That’s really rad to me. I understand a staff party that’s just for the staff, but to invite all the customers as well really impresses me.
I can’t say I’d recommend the pool though. Jay and I went swimming today and she said the water tasted awful; acidic. I asked her why she thought it was a good idea to drink it because I’m a smart ass. I noticed that my mouth was devoid of saliva. Then my nipple got itchy. Then Jay got water in her eyes and it stung so bad she had to get out of the pool. I got out and found that the skin on my right nipple was peeling off, my armpits stung, and I peeled some skin off my nose.
We were basically swimming in watered down bleach and I so badly wanted to blame it all on Jellyfish.
So our original plan was to set up in Cambodia because it’s supposed to be cheaper. Supposed to be. It’s not.
There’s two currencies here – American and Riel. Everything is in American and your change is in Riel. Four thousand Riel equals one dollar American. It’s somewhat annoying keeping two currencies and trying to do the exchange on the fly. Also annoying is leafing through bills upon bills upon bills to come up with a buck fifty.
The things you buy here are actually not that cheap at all. It’s just slightly cheaper than Canada. A can of Budweiser here is around three dollars, but the local beer is pretty cheap at about fifty to sixty cents.
We got a pizza which ran about twenty bucks. You factor in the exchange rate of Canadian money to American, it’s not all that cheap. If you do the exchange to Thai Baht, Thailand seems to be cheaper.
The city is littered with security guards. I’m sure that would make most people feel safe until you start asking why there’s a need for so many security guards. I saw a sign for a bar that doesn’t allow automatic weapons and the offense is punishable by Cambodian law. Why is this a thing?!?! Why do you have to tell people it’s a no-no to bring in your uzi?
Jay, who is awesome, got out a hundred dollars from an ATM. It gave her a hundred dollar bill. We went to the bank to get smaller bills, and while there, a guy came in with a money bag and two guards. The two guards were rocking AK-47s. Really makes you wonder why that kind of firepower is needed.
I don’t know why we keep doing this as we seem to hate tourists and crowds but our first night here, we headed over to Pub Street, which is the Khoasan Road of Siem Reap, but much larger.
In Thailand you’d hear ‘tuk tuk?’ then ‘where you go?’ which seemed an odd order of questions to me. Here they just ask ‘tuk tuk?’ but it’s every single one of them. Seriously. We’d pass ten tuk tuks with every one of them asking, including the last one, who watched us say no to all ten.
It doesn’t make sense to me. Why would we say no to everyone then suddenly decide, ‘yes, you’re the tuk tuk we’ve been waiting for!’ The only drivers that haven’t asked us if we wanted a tuk tuk were the ones that were sleeping. It’s incredibly annoying after literally hundreds of times.
And then there are the scams and there are a lot of them.
While walking through Pub Street/ Night Market, a child approaches us, saying he doesn’t want money, he only wants milk. I tell the kid I don’t have milk, because, you know, smart ass. Jay tells him no. The kid then hisses as Jay, swears at her, then storms off.
Seriously hissed at her. Like a pissed off bitch cat.
The scam is that you buy the kid milk and he then turns around and sells it back to the store for a lesser price. The boy makes money and the store makes money when it sells the milk again.
We come out of a store and a woman with a baby approaches us. We both say no and the lady grabs my arm. Most of the time, these aren’t even the mothers of these babies. They rent them for their scams. I guess if Jay and I get desperate enough we can look into that. Maybe create a baby renting service of some kind.
Yet another guy starts following me, trying to sell me drugs. He follows me for a few blocks, trying to grab my arm. Cambodians love my arm.
And now the traffic. Okay, a four way stop with traffic lights. The east side turns green with arrows indicating left turns, right turns, and straight onward traffic can go. The west side has this exact same green light at the exact same time. Basically, how traffic works here is you just go after you pray. Seriously. Just Go. I saw a woman on a motorbike holding a cell phone, trying to turn left. Cars and other motorbikes were passing her on both sides. Then she just went. Absolute anarchy.
Want to cross the street? Just go. Want to turn? Just turn. Want to drive in opposing traffic? Just drive against traffic.
Last thing: it’s very hot here. All the time.
All that being said, I know it’s possible that it could just be this city and the city is starting to warm on me a bit. I don’t seem to mind it as much as I did on the first day.
In about four hours we’re getting up to go to Angkor Wat for sun up. It’s one of the worlds oldest and possibly largest temple, so I’m pretty stoked for that. There’s also an abandoned city here somewhere that would be rad to see.
So I’m off to bed so I can be awake enough to appreciate some old shit.