A Tour of South East Asia, Part 2
13th Tuesday, Phnom Penh to Siem Riep
Two days in Cambodia and I have yet to get laid. At least, I probably have but don't remember. Anyway, I tell myself, that’s not why I am here; I’m looking for a place to die and this could be it. But good memories of getting laid would also be nice.
There are many travel agents on the street by the stadium that runs down to Independence Monument. It is ten dollars to Siem Riep and also ten dollars to Ho Chi Minh City. I bought tickets for both. When I told them I wanted to travel to Pattaya they had never heard of it. I know it is possible to cross the border at Koh Kong and then to take a minibus to Pattaya in a single day but these people did not offer it, or as I said, had even heard of such a thing. So I was travelling unexpectedly north-west to Siem Riep, an overnight stay there and then another bus to Bangkok. Fuck it; I might even take a look at the temples at Siem Riep. Why not? I’m not a complete moron.
We got to Siem Riep at about 3:30 PM and I set off for the temples at about 4:30 PM in a tuktuk. When we got there the admission was twenty dollars and for another 15 you got a share in a tour guide. I said ‘Fuck that, I’m not going in – I just want to look at the temples not buy the fuckers.’
The tuktuk guy told me that if I waited at the gate until 5.30, all the guides and security leave and I can get in for free. So I sat among the security staff at the entrance, maybe 45 minutes, while they stared at the Falang almost as poor them. A couple of the female staff are quite presentable and I toyed with the idea of propositioning them. It just goes to show that my mind is not quite in tune with sight-seeing and culture. I was feeling justified in not wasting good bum-bum and beer vouchers on looking temples. Anyway, I wanted time to get into the city and practice my trade of whore mongering.
At last it was 5.30 and by then my tuktuk driver had told me his life story – how he drives a tuktuk eleven months a year and every July goes back to his wife and kids in the country, not for a well earned holiday but to make rice. The implicit message was, life is hard, life’s a struggle and don’t forget to give me a good tip. I told him that the only tipping I do is fly-tipping. By then I was ready to expose myself to Angkor Wat – but my troubles were not over – as I walked to the door of the first temple a little hippy-like guy placed a no-entry cone in front of me.
‘What, I can’t go in?’ I said, trying to inject a genuine note of disappointment to cover a more sincere disinterest.
‘Come with me,’ he said in the hushed tones of one confiding something special, and I obediently followed him along to a side door hoping I was about to score a good deal. But he led me around to an alcove where I was subjected to my second sad Cambodian life story within an hour. He was an orphan, adopted by the monks and had lived all his life in the temple. Now he was trying to better himself and his ambition was to get the qualifications to be a tour guide. OK, I thought, I’ll accept that story I’ll give you a couple of dollars – you are not a tour guide yet. ‘Please give me 15 dollars’ he said. I gave him five, which the bastard asked to swap for a note without a nick in it. It was the tiniest of nicks in the middle where it had been folded and no bastard not even a bank, now not even a lousy beggar, would accept it. To them the greenback was King, but it had to be pristine – the riel could be in any sorry state, and usually was – but the paper US dollar was the money.
I tried to save money today but have so far fallen for every scam going.
Because I hadn’t intended travelling to Siem Riep I hadn’t read up on it before I left (I knew a Cambodian sub-forum on the city in mongering sites had existed but hadn't paid much attention to it). So, although I went in free of expectation, I was aware that mongering opportunities more than likely existed.
We, an Indonesian Immigration Officer and I, got carried free to the Australian Hotel where I ate curry and rice with him a nearby bar. As it started to get dark, walking on the outskirts, I realised this place was unlikely to bring me the experiences necessary to compile an interesting field report. At the time I didn’t even know I was on the outskirts, and thought this was as good as it got.
I was then picked up by a stray tuktuk driver who took me to the night market. The driver hinted that there were bigger fish to fry, or some that would at least to give me a foot massage. He then winked. I was encouraged.
Looking through half-closed eyes you could have been in Pattaya’s Walking Street – but this is a touch fanciful – this is Cambodia and very different. Here I endured a painful massage where no extras were offered.
The streets of Cambodia’s second city appeared to be populated by heavy-haunched falang who after a stressful day seeking spiritual and cultural experiences at the temples, were now enjoying a night off. All indications suggested that I would need much deeper research in order to untangle the web of superficial innocence to break the polished surface and delve below. All I could see were fat tourists with their feet in fish bowls. Heavy haunched Falang women, with faces burnt red, with their precious pussies and dirty minds having a fish massage. For them, it did not get any racier than this.
I was about to conclude on the innocence of Siem Riep when I was stopped by two ladies on Pub Street who explained; ‘We will give you a massage, yum-yum (illustrating by bouncing a fist from her lips just in case there remained ambiguity) and bum-bum (no demonstration was offered, although I looked hopefully for one). So it was massage, yum-yum and bum-bum then back to the Australian to sleep and ready to be picked up at 7.30 for bus to Bangkok.
14th Wednesday, Siem Riep to Bangkok
I have just left the Australian Hotel. The last time an Australian stayed at this hotel must have been when Australia beat England at a real sport; football.
Now I am on the coach waiting for more passengers to arrive by tuktuk from their respective hotels. The ticket was $15 and it is estimated to take eight hours. The coach appears to have good air con. I am sitting with a Jap guy who is loudly and cheerfully saying, ‘Good morning!’ to everyone who gets on the bus, he knows I am English and is doing a bad imitation of what he thinks I should be. But I've never said good morning to any fucker.
On the way to Bangkok I am forced to listen to loud and self-assured monologues from teenage backpackers who, apparently, have done it all. Who cares; I’m a monger and haven’t seen anything, and have never wanted to see anything but that which is between the sweaty butt cheeks of a hooker.
It is about four hours to the border. We cross at Poi Pet into Thailand and immigration checks are completed in about an hour. Then we travel to Bangkok by minibus, which is cramped and the emphysemic air ducts are pathetically blowing out air as I have to suffer another nine rounds of backpacker life stories.
Is all this pain worth it for a rare and brief shag? On one of the scheduled stops, I walked away from the backpackers towards the shade, I leant against a pillar, took a pull from my beer and rolled a joint. An unrealistically buoyant mood came over me; this trip can only get better; or so I thought.
Avoiding backpackers droning on in intercity city buses in South-East Asia is reason enough to buy air tickets to get around!