The Tacky Tour Guide

Day 13: Kampot

Five am. Who am I? It’s all coffee and eggs while I wait for my tour bus to arrive. It’s late; I’m impatient. At 9am we’re headed to Bokor Mountain.
I stare out the window of the shuttle as we loop up around the mountain, curving back and forth through thick jungle, interrupted only by our winding path.
Even the beautiful setting cannot help my mood today. Nose plastered to the glass, I miss my sister. A lot. I even miss familiarity a bit. Loneliness is creeping around my shoulders and the thought of being herded around in this silly group is making me claustrophobic. I just want a friend today.
At the top of the mountain sits an old mansion, abandoned now. We stop to walk through, and everyone aahs over the incredible view of the green mass stretching out far below and turning to blue ocean. All that is heard is the hum of the animal orchestra below the jungles’ canopy.

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The tour guide cracks stupid jokes while we eat lunch, and I attempt to look mildly amused for politeness’ sake.
After, he explains that this mountain has been purchased by a private Vietnamese company. They have already built a monstrous casino at the top, which appears amidst nothing but jungle and is so out of place you have to wonder if Las Vegas has a reward out for a missing building.
There is a model of the city this company has planned to build around it, endless rows of identical houses, each complete with its’ own swimming pool. Before entering the building to check this out, I’m the last one out of the shuttle. The guide stops me.
“Dayna, there are some pictures of our local flora in there. There’s one that’s especially neat. Be sure to take a look.”
I nod, and walk through the door. On the wall above the bathroom are pictures alright, and I immediately know which one he’s referring to.
It’s quite the phallic mushroom,  and even a porn star at the height of his Viagra dose would be impressed.

imageAnger colours my already edgy mood, and an image of my water bottle landing between the tour guides’ eyes flits through my mind.
Instead, I take the passive aggressive route and throw him the odd glare throughout the day.
Then our group heads to a waterfall where we sit and watch people play in the rapids below. I want to join, but our shuttle leaves in ten minutes. The constraints of following the herd. Ugh!
Our driver careens down the mountain on the way back, awarding him complaints in raised voices from some of the older people in the group. We’re dropped off by the river and told to meet back in an hour to catch our sunset cruise.
I take the time to catch up with my sister, and my mood improves by the time I’m on the boat. It’s a beautiful ride, and when the boat stops an hour later, I jump into the river.

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Then I get a beer from the boat bar and chat with the bartender, who invites me to join him and his friend for food after.
When the boat docks, I join the two Cambodian guys at a big, packed restaurant where I am the only non-local.
They order, and soon the table is steaming with plates of cow brains, cow tongue and rice with fried insects.
After, we top it off with duck fetus and I head home on a full tummy.


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