Day 12: Sihanoukville to Kampot
I wake at 3am in the dark to some girl looking at my phone. I sit up and she says I’m in her bed. With seven empty beds in the dorm, this seems trivial, but I move over anyways. A couple minutes later, I pass her a plastic bag when she starts dry heaving on the mattress.
By 6am I’m drinking a smoothie in the restaurant, wondering when I should fly to India. Three weeks left to explore Cambodia and Vietnam seems crushingly short. Can’t I just do this forever?
Today, I decide I will backtrack to the two small towns of Kampot and Kep, which boast trekking and cave exploring.
I chat with my server while waiting for my bus. She works twelve hours a day and gets two days off a month for a wage of $150. Her husband makes the same amount and they have a four year old daughter. They cannot afford to fix their house or have surgery for her nasal problems. She explains that a lot of Chinese come here to set up businesses, of which about eighty percent are unpleasant to work for. Money robs their kindness. 168 Chinese men living in Cambodia were just deported back to their country after the government caught them blackmailing people, using personal pictures from the internet with a threat to make them viral if the person did not send them money. This happened a week ago in Phnom Penh. Making a living in Cambodia will put hair on anyones chest. In Canada, my wage is higher, and so is the cost of living. But if you do the math, the quality of living we experience is not same same – its definitely different.
My bus arrives, and after four hours in a seat narrower than my shoulders, I’m elated to arrive in Kampot and give those babies some fresh air. I find a quaint little dorm room for three bucks a night at Peppers Guesthouse. Across the street is a little restaurant called Jack’s serving Khmer food. I eat red fish and chat with Jess, a British girl who owns two nearby hotels. Monstrosities, she calls them, nose in the air.
I take to the streets at nightfall, passing some sort of wedding or ceremony in the street. It’s all men at fancy tables under a red and white swathed tent, and ladies in little sparkly dresses dancing and singing on stage.
The long road I walk turns into a lonely highway. A gas vendor appears across the street – a safe haven. The family there invites me to sit and only the husband knows a few English words. He teaches me some Khmer words, I buy a bottle of water and wave goodbye.
On the way back home, the rain starts, harder than I’ve experienced yet. A food vendor waves me under his tarp to wait it out. We drink a beer and he gives me chicken skewers and a strange egg which is veiny and brown when I crack it open. I follow his lead as he puts it in a bowl and adds lime, salt and pepper, pickled garlic and Thai basil. It’s oddly delicious. Later, I find out it’s a duck fetus.
When the rain dries up, I leave and bump into Jess from Jack’s, joining her and her friend at an Irish bar around the corner before heading home to sleep.