Wednesday, June 9, 2010


Kelsey's family had a pet bird. It talked. The talking wasn't too impressive to me, as the bird spoke Khmer and I had no idea what it was saying. However, the bird did spot-on impressions of cellphone noises and ringtones and that was awesome.

Banteay Srei

In rural Cambodia it is common to come across a device called an "engine cow" (or for the bigger ones: "engine buffalo"). Basically it is a seat, two long handle bars and an engine. You can attach just about anything to it: plow, cart, wagon. It's pretty multi-purpose. Cale thinks they are awesome.

When we arrived in Sisiphon from Kelsey's village we sort of expected to be dropped off at the bus station. However, the taxi driver handed us off to another taxi driver in the middle of a random four-way intersection. Granted this new taxi driver was going to Siem Reap, but we didn't want to pay for a taxi. We wanted to take a bus, they are cheaper. Try as Cale might, he could not get them to take us to a bus company. He drew pictures of buses, he used all the Khmer words he knew and they were having none of it. Everyone kept acting like they had no idea what we were talking about and could not imagine what this picture Cale was drawing could possibly be. When the hand off took place the first taxi driver had taken our bags from his trunk and deposited them in the trunk of the new driver's car. After much insisting we got them to give us back our bags and we were perfectly happy sitting on the side of the road until we were able to call Kelsey and learn where the bus station was. However, the new taxi driver was pretty keen on getting our fare. Through hand signs and numbers written in Cale's notebook, he told us that it was $50,000r per person to Siem Reap via the taxi. We knew it was $15,000r per person via the bus. Cale wrote that number down and drew an arrow to the bus pictures. More hand gestures and it appears he was agreeing to drive us to Siem Reap for the bus prices. So what the hell, we hopped in the taxi and gave up on our search for buses. The minute he had secured our fare his inability to understand what Cale could possibly mean with these strange drawings evaporated and he was able to tell Cale the Khmer word for bus.

Cale's Bad Haircut
If you look closely you can see Cale's corners.

Cale got a haircut in Siem Reap. It seemed safe when he was just going to have it clippered all over. When we got there he changed his mind and decided he wanted the sides trimmed up and left long on top. It was quite possibly one of the worst haircuts Cale has ever gotten. He was keen on pointing out that his head now had corners and that it was the perfect haircut for someone with a square head. The best part of the haircut experience wasn't the terrible cut or the face "massage" that involved the woman sort of slapping Cale about the head and face. As she was cutting his hair she was doing the bit where you clean up around the ears with clippers. She started around the back and came around the front to where she would straighten out the sideburns only to discover his sideburns continued on to a face covered with fur and it was obvious she had no idea what to do. You could see the confusion all over her face. If I shave here to clean up the side burns there will be a weird bald patch between head and face. Do I shave it? Do I just leave it alone? Arrgghh! She sort of wavered there for a while and then mimed shaving his face with the clippers and looked at Cale questioningly. Cale agreed to it, telling her to leave the goatee and mustache area alone and she proceeded to just run the clippers up and down his cheeks on each side. It was hilarious.

For some strange reason I expected that the one patch of continuously paved road in Cambodia would be from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh. I figured it must be the most well-travelled of all routes. However, it is not. Much of the trip is dirt road. I was surprised.

The Grandview Guesthouse in Phnom Penh is not grand in anyway. Do not believe the pictures on the web site. Our room was tiny and dingy. One of the beds was covered in ants. The sheets on both beds were worn, torn and stained in frightening ways. Worst of all the walls of the room were just filthy with what looked like dirt and smeared boogers. If staying in Phnom Penh, stay away from the guesthouses on the lake and try the ones on the river. I highly recommend Nordic House.

While sitting at a cafe for dinner I overheard a girl with what could have been a Scottish accent talk about something called "chaps and cheese" for like 20 straight minutes. I have no idea what she was talking about, but it ended in a great quote.
"No, it's not a cheese day."

Gas Station

We've been in Cambodia for more than a month now and we have traveled a bit. In that time I have seen at most 10 gas stations. I don't mean 10 types. I mean 10 gas stations. Total. Most gas is distributed from glass Coke, Pepsi or Fanta bottles from roadside stands. Sometimes there will be an oil drum with a strange apparatus on top and a long tube that dispenses gas as well. These are operated by a hand crank. While walking to town in Sen Monorom we saw a woman cranking gas from one of these set up on a hill through the long tube to a man standing on the road below. He was holding a plastic bag like they might put your gum and candy bar purchase into at a gas station. That was where the gas was going. I am not sure small plastic grocery bags are the recommended container for gas.

We are sitting in a tuk-tuk. Another tuktuk drives by. The driver leans over, "You need tuktuk?" Seriously? We are in a tuktuk right now!

Cale is sitting on the back of a moto on his way to find me at the pharmacy the day I was sick. Another moto driver comes by, "You need moto?" Seriously people? Is business that slow? Do you really expect that Cale is going to reflect on the current situation and think, "You know, on second thought, yes I do need a different moto. This moto is just no good."

— Sara

1 comment:

Teresa said...

So are you saying that people in Cambodia cut hair worse than you do!?