Quite literally, I placed my feet into a tank, dozens of minnow-like fish scurried round to suckle away my dry bits, and I walked away feeling refreshed, healthy and scale free. What a tickly treat!
And, highly necessary after nine hours of nonstop land turbulence from Phnom Penh. My bus finally bounced into Siem Reap at roughly 10pm. After 15 minutes of playing hard-to-get, I finally gave in to the adorable, yet pestering tuk-tuk driver that was bound and determined to take me to my hostel (and probably to the moon and back if I asked him to). I was soon to discover just how aggressive the Siem Reap tuk-tuk drivers could be when I walked home a few nights later and (accidentally) slugged one in the face by means of fisted shield protection. We laughed…awkwardly.
As we bobbled down the road, I kept hearing “Xin Cháo” cat calls in my direction (which is rare in these Southeast Asian countries), but could not figure out why local Cambodians kept shouting “Hello” in Vietnamese…Ah! I soon realized I was still fully strapped into my Vietnamese conical hat (picture a lamp shade made with dried coconut water leaves). No wonder the bizarre shouting. I quickly unlaced the silk scarf from around my chin, removed the cone basket and suddenly heard cheers of joy. Got it. They don’t approve of Vietnam. Guess I won’t be wearing that to my next interview.
After weaving through the countless night markets and buzzing party streets, Lang eventually dropped me off at the brand new Luxury Concept Hostel ($6/night) equipped with a dapper rooftop bar, exquisite shower heads and a spacious floor plan (it’s the little things that count). I could not have been more pleased as I unpacked Sebastian and made myself at home. I met up with some old backpacking friends, Jake, Rich & Bobby, the next morning to do some casual sightseeing (mostly competing to see which one of us can bargain the best…Jake wins), followed by a Cambodian circus performance (see previous post), then the consumption of our first fried tarantulas (which led to a domino effect of food poisoning for all) and finally off to bed for a sunrise wake to the ever-so-magical temples of Angkor Wat.
Note to all: A one day visit to Angkor Wat is not suggested. Give yourself at least two days in this tantalizing temple land full of impressive history and stucco, sandstone delight.
After bidding the boys goodbye, I asked the bartender if he knew where I could take an entry level Khmer class. He instantly calls a friend who knows a friend, she immediately shows up at the bar and we arrange my first Khmer lesson. Her name is Bee and she hails from England. Bee has been living in Siem Reap for nearly six years working at www.conCERTcambodia.org, a NGO that helps turn people’s good volunteer intentions into the best possible help for the most vulnerable people in Cambodia. She also teaches English as a second job. She is also friends with a swarm of other beautiful expats, some I’ve met, that are doing all kinds of cool jobs in the area. To say I struck gold with this introduction would be an understatement. Due to the contagious energy, powerful history and job seeking potential of this city, I think I may have just found a potential home. So now, it’s time to start carving out a potential six-month career path in this wonderful little city. With Bee and friends at my side, let the job hunting begin.
Wait one minute! It can't be that easy. First, I must spend 24-hours with some crazy wave of food poison where I literally dispose of all my insides from every possible waterspout. Check, that happened. Luckily, I was blessed with some very compassionate dorm mates who delivered fresh papaya and electrolyte powder to my bedside until I was mobile again. Post recovery, I treated myself to a traditional Khmer massage, which felt more like Cirque du Soleil tryouts. Needless to say, I am still sore as a motherfucker, but happy as a girl who just got her feet suckled...again!