Monday, March 20, 2006

Siem Reap IV

Today was a day of rest after all that cycling. After doing a few chores (eg travellers cheques, photos to CD, etc) I had lunch at Sala Bai, a training restaurant to give disadvantaged youth a head start. I had a main of fish, with spicy sauce & rice, desert of caramel & orange cake with sauce & ice cream, a coke, cafe latte and juice, for $9.50. I enjoyed the meal, but the trainees were terribly anxious in their desire to "get it right". Afterwards I had a massage at the Ă„ngkor Massage by Blind place (on Highway 6 between the Caltex servo & Jasmine Lodge). It was $4 for an hour, and took place in a room of 5 tables, 4 of which were being used. Again I had to slip into a pair of massage pyjamas. This time the operatives were young women who all seemed pretty short-sighted. It was quite good, fairly vigorous, but they will persist with tugging your digits (i.e toes & fingers), which I'm not mad on. Happily, and in contrast to what happens in Vietnam, there's no pressure afterwards to give the masseuse some extra money.

After the afternoon massage I walked over to take a look at "Miniature Replicas of Angkor's Temples" - of Angkor Wat, the Bayon, and Banteay Srei - in the garden of a local sculptor. He seemed a nice old bloke, and proudly showed me various certificates & photos, a silver cup & a self-portrait he'd painted, and told me that today was his 70th birthday. I think he said that it took him 4 years to do all the drawings of Angkor Wat before he got down to construction. It did leave me wondering ... "why?".

Tonight I had a meal at the Dead Fish Tower, as suggested in the Comments section - it was sort of fun. It's a slightly quirky place, and the food - Thai - wasn't bad. The best part was the entertainment - a trio doing some sort of repetitious Khmer dance, with emphasis on the hand movements, and then two female singers with American accents singing all those karaoke favourites - Whitney Houston, Cher, and so on. It oscillated between being great fun & a little cringeworthy.

Both on my way to the restaurant & on the way back, numerous young fellows lounging about in the street kindly enquired if I wanted a "tuk tuk" (a form of transport) and then, in a lower voice, if I wanted a "lady massage". I presumed that they weren't the ones who were going to give me the massage, and that this was undoubtedly a "special massage" that was being offered ...

Counsellors sometimes use "minimal encouragers" - appropriate eye contact, occasional nods, "hmm"'s, "uh-huh"'s & other indicators that suggest interest. To deal with being regularly importuned for tuk-tuk, motorcycle and so on, I suggest the use of "minimal discouragers" i.e limited eye contact & maybe minimal acknowledgement, rather than becoming annoyed (although this is not always easy). I try & remind myself that they're just trying to earn a living & that it's not personal, and to endeavour to be good humoured about it.


Bill Healy said...

David you continue to amaze and delight me .. fascinating, vivid and thoughtful accounts of wily westerner at large in cambodia .. I have had considerable ocntact with cambodian students here and have often pondered where, in the face of such warmth and gentleness, comes the horrendous violence of Pol Pot .. like you I fear it is everywhere just waiting fo the right conditions to precipatite it. Take care

Lisa Forrester said...

Hi David,

You sound like you're having an amazing time and are really getting into the local culture. Only just over a week to go before I head off on my trip, so any tips/suggestions will be greatly appreciated. I am certainly noting the places to eat... the last things I want to do is end up being unwell! Has been good reading your description of places knowing that I'll be there soon too... gives me a sense of what to look forward to and what to expect...can't wait!

Take care, and I'll certainly speak with you soon.


Keep having fun