Tuesday, June 22, 2010
The Green Man
While I had been convalescing at the Sunrise Guesthouse, Cale had been out exploring Kampot a little bit. One of the first places he happened upon was the nexus of weird. The sign, however, says The Green Man.
The Green Man is a bar/restaurant run by Nita and we have been there practically everyday since arriving in Kampot. The first night Cale went out for a wander and was drawn by a man with an iPhone in pieces. The following day he passed by with a bag bulging with laundry. Now friendly with Nita, he stopped to ask if she knew a place that did laundry by the kilo (the laundry across the street from the guesthouse only did laundry by the piece, which as insanely expensive). "You do here for free. No worries. I have washing machine. You see. Do laundry here for free." Cale, skeptically, followed her to the back of the shop where indeed there was a large laundry machine. But why would she want him to do his laundry here for free? Throwing caution to the wind he decided that free is good and washed the clothes there. As he left, he passed a magazine on a table. The headline? "The Great Clothes Robbery." He wondered if that was a sign. Returning to the room he told me we either were going to get our clothes cleaned for free or lose everything but what we had on. Either way, it would make for a good story.
Nita, of course, turned out to be a sweetheart and not a clothes thief. She regularly offers us the use of her daughter's moto for free (which we always decline, choosing to rent one instead so as not to deprive her daughter of transportation), she lent us the bikes she usually rents for a $1 a day for free and we have done our laundry at her place several times since. She was also the person who finally taught Cale how to drive a moto (he has been trying to get someone to do that since we arrived in Cambodia).
"Nita," we ask, "if you keep giving everything away for free, how will you ever make any money?" She is making some cash off us. We visit her every night for a beer or two and there are rarely ever other customers (this is the low season and barang are scarce around these parts).
Nita has introduced us to her array of regular customers, which mostly consist of expats.
One of these customers is entering into my newly formed category of John Waters' characters who have retired to Cambodia. You may remember the two we met in Sen Monorom? Well, there is one here in Kampot as well. Not surprisingly he also moved from Sihanoukville (which I am starting to form quite the strange mental picture of) recently and rented a house in town. He has the magical ability of always being where you are and you are less than excited about it. He is always, always just a little bit drunk and more thank likely more than a little bit drunk. He wobbly rides his bike from one bar to next and makes very little sense when he is speaking. To be honest, my instant reaction to him was he was the oldest e-tard I had ever met. There was one day he was hanging out at The Green Man in men's pajamas and asked another patron, "Do you go out in your sleeping costume?" The other patron replied that no, only women went out in pajamas here (you may remember my mentioning that pajamas are clothes?).
Hanging out with Nita is always an adventure. Sometimes it is harder for me because she speaks English with both a Khmer and French accent (she lived in France for several years). Yet even when I am not 100% sure what is going on, it is hard not to join in with her infections laughter. Nita has a collection of friends whom she always refers to as having good hearts. According to her, we too have good hearts.
If you happen to find yourself in Kampot, seek out The Green Man on the river road (it's hard to miss) and you won't be disappointed.
Posted by Cale