Trip fatigue sets in. We have been on the road for two full weeks. We forego a third day of temple raiding for a night out on the town followed by a leisurely hotel morning. To prepare, Greg sits in the heat by the hotel’s pool, while I lay in the hotel room’s darkness to read a book and play a tower-defense game. Techno music overlaid with guttural Khmer blasts from the mall next door as an outdoor sales team tries to drum up business on juicers and rice cookers. Louder is frequently better in congested cities.
Greg books tickets for an evening dinner and a show at a nearby Cambodian circus. We dine outdoors on the classic fish amok (fish curry) and chicken satay skewers. Anxious ticket holders queue by us early for the circus show. We dine leisurely as we booked “preferred” seats. The show features fifteen male and two female dancers, acrobats, and jugglers. Happily most of the show is conducted in spoken Khmer with English subtitles. Lithe men jump, roll, climb, and sweat. Costumes and props are not extravagant, but enthusiasm peaks when pairs pirouette through a burning jump rope.
With our early bedtime on this trip, we have yet to explore any nightlife. A remork (tuk tuk) will whisk you to any part of Siem Reap for the standard fare of $2. I’m guessing that Cambodian standard of living makes prices feel to locals 10x higher than to us, so a $2 remork would be like a $20 taxi in San Francisco – possible but luxurious.
Downtown, we drink lychee and gin cocktails in a chinoiserie 1920s-themed bar called Miss Wong’s. Afterwards, we try out a tiny, depressing gay bar whose white seats and bad music reminded me much of the more boring parts of San Francisco. Instead, we wander the night market whose stalls all sell the same silks, hats, and T-shirts, but why did I insist on purchasing those two hot vegetable dumplings?
Our hotel liason, Mr. Chan, pulls us discretely aside to implore us to write a favorable review of the hotel on Trip Advisor. These days, the tourism industry depends so much on this single internet site that I worry that reviews homogenize towards the average viewpoint of a 60-year old couple from Boca Raton. I do write the hotel a favorable review as they merit one.
Before our flight departs Cambodia, we tour the Angkor National Museum, a new but motley collection of lifeless buddhas and blank heads. Although the museum contextualizes well the Angkor temples, far better experience to roam the ruins.
One year ago on this day, I bravely and anxiously stepped into the void by quitting my job of six years. Friday, April 4 was my last day of work. Two days hence from now, I start work anew.