It seemed to me that some street traders in Cambodia have an odd interest of exchanging whatever goods or services they own for one US dollar. I bought a conical hat (i.e. leaf hat), drunk juice from a coconut, had my rented bike fixed, and took a tuk-tuk (i.e. an auto rickshaw) to town each at the price of US$1. A pack of cards was sold at US$1 while two same packs of cards were sold US$1 as well. It was an incident that we were not sure whether it was amused or not. That day, my mates and I were having breakfast from a food vendor when two local boys approached us to sell packs of cards. They were about seven or eight years old. Very lovable. One chatted away in clear English. The other was very quiet. After having looked through the cards, MH picked one pack of which only one card she liked; whereas, Miki bought a whole random pack on the basis of her sympathy for the quiet boy. US$1 was handed to each boy. They ran off but quickly came back to offer us 2 packs of card for one dollar only. We realized that we had paid double the price but we couldn’t have helped finding the mischievous boys amused. After we made it clear that we wouldn’t be tricked into buying any more, they switched. They asked to buy back the snack I brought from Vietnam. Guess how much they offered me for it! US$1.
Travel by plane: 3,400 km
Travel by coach: 1,200 km
Travel by tuk-tuk: 100 km
Cycle: 30 km
When it comes to counting difficulties of the Cambodia trip, it is numerous.
It was when I sat in the last row of a coach bumping my head and suffering with my travel sickness.
It was when I heavily pedalled under the extreme heat of Cambodian summer days.
It was when I dragged the rented bike with a flat tyre under the tropical rain of Cambodian thundering summer.
It was when I sat under the shadow of a tree “playing” hide and seek. I hid from the sun but was sought by fire ants. Oach!
Cambodia was hardship. In quite a few events, I could have given up walking without support from my beloved companions.
Cambodia was calm when the rain stopped, the bike worked again and took me to a moat of which the water was nothing but calm. In the middle was Angkor Wat.
Cambodia was surprisingly calm when I was eating sandwiches, drinking green tea on the door steps of the tower once having kept its prisoners till their death.
Cambodia was so peaceful at Dead Fish. We didn’t think Dead Fish was run by Cambodians, but it formed the best part of our Siem Reap memories. It was a restaurant built with wooden mezzanines. They were all at different height levels but linked by a maze of stairs. Each mezzanine had a different layout and provided a different view to the centre stage where Cambodian men and women danced their traditional Aspara Dance. The one mezzanine we sat was slightly far away and high up. Food was brought up in pulleys. There was a ceiling fan which moved slowly and was not far off falling down. The lights were dim but enough to reflect on a wall clock whose hands ran anti clock-wise. Sometimes we hummed along with the music. Sometimes it was just silence. Peacefully.
Before I went to Cambodia, my images of the country were poverty and danger. Now I know there are. But it is not everything. Cambodia is a peaceful place where one might love to find herself or himself bargaining, exhausting and smiling.
This diary was translated and edited from its Vietnamese version for my curiosity toward fun and unpaid translation. It felt good 😀