Coffee and Pee

Trip Start Aug 22, 2012
Trip End Jun 16, 2013

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Friday, January 11, 2013

Two very important parts of our lives and what do they have in common? Nothing except they are 'top of mind' in this blog entry.  Read on…

Kampot is described in our guide book as "…this charming riverside town with its relaxed atmosphere and a run-down French architectural legacy".  What I experienced upon arrival was yet another dirty city but I warmed up to it.  Feeling worn out from our gastrointestinal flu and disappointed by the discrepancy between the town we thought we were arriving at and the town we experienced, we found a beautiful place to stay on our second day; a quiet garden, a spacious clean room, a DVD player and a wide choice of DVDs and unlimited fruit shakes at our fingertips.  I needed to close the doors on Cambodia so in our air conditioned room, watched 3 movies for a cleansing physical and psychological renewal.  My recovery was evidenced by trying out the “Rusty Keyhole’s” famous ribs – honestly THE BEST ribs I have ever had!

Now able to face the world again, the next day we took bicycles out to the local villages where we met up with four young boys roughhousing around.  We’d try to take a photo of them and they’d wildly push each other out of the way and skirmish for the position closest to the camera then plunge at us anxiously trying to see the display of the photo – whether or not we had even taken the photo yet.  We were all laughing and having a great time.  Until…one of them did the one thing that bothers me to no end about Cambodian men which is peeing anywhere/anytime.  That did it for me; I climbed back on my bike and headed out.

So please allow me a little tirade…everyone says how important it is to be culturally sensitive in Cambodia.  Women should wear modest clothing that covers their shoulders, their knees, etc.  I understand that.  Yet Cambodian men, with seemingly no regard to the women either foreign or Cambodian, pull out their penis and pee freely on the street, by the riverside, against a building, just outside the stopped bus, you name it!  And we are not talking about seeing a leg or a shoulder, these are their genitals!  What is that?!  To boot, they are obviously learning this behaviour at a young age and are not being discouraged.  Plus, think of the odour and poor sanitation (amongst other things, they don’t wash their hands).  Well, I got that out…now back to our bike ride.

We crossed a bridge that had been bombed in the 1970s with big holes in the bottom of it and it was barely hanging together – rather nerve racking on a bike with the traffic whizzing by us.  As we headed out to the rice paddies, of which most were standing stagnant because it is the dry season, we came across an older man who was working very hard.  His thin, sinewy body and wrinkled face told the story of a long, hard life.  Jim tried to inconspicuously take photos of him and then eventually asked him for a picture for which he chose to pose.  He and I had a very basic conversation in French – fun for both of us as we were obviously trying out a language we were not only bad at but had not spoken for a long time.  The beauty of it was we communicated!

Now onto Jim’s lament, ‘…if only I could find a really good cup of coffee (sigh)’.  How disappointing for him to go day after day, month after month in the hopes of finding a decent cup of coffee only to have those hopes repeatedly dashed.  Cambodia is not coffee country.

Our last day of travel in Cambodia was spent taking the dustiest, dirtiest 25-km tuk-tuk ride to the tiny seaside town of Kep, famous for its crab shacks and rental picnic/hammock-hanging platforms which locals use for family get-togethers.  We enjoyed the day breathing in the ocean breezes so missed when we are inland for any length of time.

Here is my ode to Cambodia – a poet I am not:

Cambodia, Cambodia, Cambodia
Dusty, dirty and oh so flamboydia
Home to Angkor Wat
Delicious food like amok
Hard to find good coffee
Easy to see men pee
And tuk-tuk drivers are not free.

Well, that’s it for Cambodia…good morning Vietnam!
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Sue Walker on

Another adventure you have had, Glad to hear that you are both feeling better. Enjoy Vietnam, we can't wait to hear all about it. You are always in our thought.
Love Sue xo

Bonnie on

WOW what an advernture - I am acutally visualizing myself there with all those boys when you tell your stories :). Glad you are feeling better - and here is to finding a GREAT cup of JAVA - soon

Joanne M and Avard B on

Hi Donna, Jim and Mames,
I love reading the blog, and the photos are exceptional. If you want to see men peeing with abandon, come visit us! I think French men have serious bladder control issues.
Miss you Mames.

Pamela on have convinced me that Cambodia does not need to be high on my list of countries to visit. Here's hoping better travels ahead.

donnajimtravels on

It is still worth seeing, Pamela. It is raw Asia if that's what you like. Also, if you spent more money, you might be less exposed to some of the 'raw-ness'. I wouldn't cross it off the list!

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