Friday, January 21, 2005

Should have done something shorter than "neurosurgeon"

OK, before I get to the explanation for this entry's title, let me recap our last day-and-a-half in Siem Reap.

Yesterday, we visited some more famous temples and took a boat ride along Tonle Sap Lake. There's a whole boating community of Vietnamese refugees as well as Cambodians living along the lake. As you can imagine, it's pretty filthy but the people, especially the kids, can be quite charming. After we watched the sunset on the lake, the three of us were taken to a restaurant across the street from our hotel. Another buffet, of course, ensued along with a live show of traditional Cambodian dance. The routines went back and forth between guys and girls in play clothes dancing jovially to the girls wearing really elaborate, shimmering costumes with tall, pagoda-esque headdresses and bending their hands in ways I didn't think were possible. At the end, they let the tourists run up on stage and take pics with any of the dancers. You can imagine how many guys wanted their photo taken with the girls. One group of tourists, mostly Caucasian, posed with five of the girls and one older, BIG white guy in a Hawaiian shirt and shorts put his arm around a girl without even asking her. As Jen would say, pervy.

Today, an acquaintance of Jen's, Andrea showed us a great silk store to buy from. Andrea grew up in England and used to live in the Bay Area. She was a PR person in Southern Cali before. Now, she and her husband run a guest house B&B in Siem Reap. What's cool is that they hired only locals for their staff and paid for them to learn English. They have their own local guides, drivers and even a gardener. It's the locals who could use jobs and new opportunities that really benefit. They also run a school for some local children next to their B&B and encourage guests to give a few English lessons. Andrea led us to this really charming, Cambodian-Western cafe with balcony seating. She also shared stories about her business which is only about a year old. A few months ago, she had a single guy come to the B&B. He was really paranoid about catching bird flu and refused to eat anything with eggs in it. This same man asked Andrea's assistant if he could hook him up with a Cambodian prostitute and bring her back to the B&B. This man also bragged about sleeping with more than 200 prostitutes throughout Southeast Asia. Safe to say this man definitely does not think with his head.

Later on in the afternoon, about four hours before we were due at the airport to fly back to Bangkok, we took a touk-touk (a motorized wagon with a canopy) out to the landmine museum. I highly recommend that just because the subject matter is so compelling. It was started by a former child soldier for the Khmer Rouge named Aki Ra. He spends a lot of his time clearing landmines throughout Cambodia and turned his collection into a museum. The museum is actually three wooden shacks that show press clippings about his cause, actual deactivated unexploded ordinances, etc. There are also 10 children, all with injuries like lost limbs due to landmines, living on the premises and learning English. I chatted with a couple and they were really sweet. It really breaks your heart to think of the pain they had to endure. There were some Europeans living there as well as volunteer teachers. I've thought of volunteer teaching but I don't know if I could go hardcore and live in a hut.

Ooh, I should wrap this up. Well, we got to the Siem Reap Airport with plenty of time to spare before our 8pm boarding time. This airport is pretty tiny--all the gates are in one room and there's only one eatery--a coffee stand really. Only a couple airlines fly into it. Somchai, Jen and I managed to grab a table. Later on, we started asking Somchai what games he knows and ended up playing Hangman. After a couple rounds, Jen wanted me to pick something for them to guess and I decided on neurosurgeon. Somchai was so on the verge of getting it that we didn't even bat an eyelash when Jennifer said 'What's that smell? It's coming from them closing up the cafe." Somchai was still trying to guess when one of the coffee stand employees said to us "Um, your flight." We turned around and saw that the entire room was empty of travellers and Thai Airline employees were standing by the open gate looking at us. So, yes, three generally responsible adults almost missed their flight because of Hangman. The only reason anyone knew to get us was because we were on the last flight out and the airport was virtually empty. And not to name names, but one person in our group was almost 2 for 2 in the missed flights department. Anyway, I'm now safely ensconced in my relatives' home in Bangkok with my 90-year-old Grandmother doting on my every move and even going through my underwear.


Alvin & the Chipmunks said...

So what's this got to do with bunnies? Where's the bunnies? Bunnies are cute.

wootang said...

Sorry, no bunnies spotted in Bangkok. But I have a bunny-related suprise for you if you're good. :)

juniperie said...

well Terry, just be glad that you weren't within 10 feet of me when I read this! Rajiv had far far too much fun with this story! Grrr.