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Posts Tagged ‘Cambodia’

Catching water taxi, Cambodia; May 9, 2015

Catching water taxi, Cambodia; May 9, 2015. Photo love: Ania Kolarska

Introducing my first-ever post on Refinery29. Can you believe a red hot fashion-y site let me contribute? Neither can I, but I’m super stoked on this piece, “10 Reasons Why Women Should Travel Solo.” Read it for inspiration and motivation to take that dream trip, stat.

P.S. Dudes, I’m not sexist. You go get your solo on, too. Go on, git.

This can be you. Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia.

This can be you. Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia.

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Signage at Angkor Wat

Signage at Angkor Wat

I didn’t plan to come to Cambodia. Not that I hadn’t dreamed about it. It’s simply that Laos won the mental coin toss when I was planning my post-Nepal travel. But then I woke up one morning, two weeks ago, and hopped a flight to Siem Reap. Five days spent lazing about indulging in the charms of Luang Prabang (in my case, street food, banana shakes, and $5 massages- sans happy endings- rather than hookers and opium) had left me feeling too much the douchey Western tourist.

I craved action, adventure, perhaps a touch of almost-danger. Cambodia beckoned. Upon landing, I bought a bootleg copy of Lonely Planet Cambodia (yes, I realize many of my fellow travelers see that as a douchey Western tourist thing to do; to them I say, “I like to know where the fuck I am.”).

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I gave the Siem Reap section a quick look before hitting the streets. I noted with interest that the city’s most notorious con is the “milk scam,” in which a child or woman with an infant begs a tourist to buy them formula. Unsuspecting mark goes to store with grifter, and is talked into purchasing the most expensive brand. The proceeds are then split between the con and the shopkeeper. Seemed pretty harmless, as far as these things go.

Yes, Pub St. is douchey and touristy. Photo love: Massageprices

Yes, Pub St. is douchey, Western, touristy. But still kind of fun. Photo love: Massageprices

Not five minutes later, I was accosted by a filthy street urchin in the midst of bustling Pub Street. He couldn’t have been more than eight. He tugged my arm as I passed.

Kid: “Please, I hungry. Milk. I need milk. Buy me milk.”
Dazed from sweating out a week’s worth of electrolytes after just one hour in Siem Reap heat, I agreed. Then, logic kicked in and I realized I was being scammed. The following is a verbatim and completely unembellished account of what happened next:

Me: Um, no, no milk. Fruit. Fruit healthy, I buy you fruit.
Kid (raising voice in angry manner): No! Milk. I need milk! Milk!
Me: No. Fruit. I buy you fruit, yes? What kind you want?
Kid (pretending to weep loudly, yet obviously incredibly pissed off): You said you buy milk. I so hungry. I need MILK! MILK! YOU BUY ME! YOU PROMISE!
Me (uncertain what to do, casting nervous glance around and notice entire patio of adjacent tourist restaurant is watching this little melodrama with interest): I know what I said, but I change mind. No milk. Fruit. Yes or no?
Kid (morphing into miniature version of Pol Pot): NO NO NO! MILK. I.WANT.MILK! MILK! YOU BUY ME MILK NOW! NOW!
Me (totally over this and trying to edge away): Nope. No milk. Only fruit.
Kid (screaming at top of lungs to attract maximum attention to evil round-eye lady who hates Cambodian children of the street): YOU LIE! YOU LIE! YOU PROMISE ME MILK!
He then lowers his voice so only I can hear, and says, “You fucking bitch.” Then he punches me. Hard. On my ass.
I reacted without thinking, grabbing his shoulder and shaking it. “NO! YOU CANNOT DO THAT. IT IS NOT OKAY! YOU GET NOTHING!” [good thing I decided not to have kids, no?]
Kid (attempting to vaporize me with his demonic eyes): Fuck you, fucking bitch.

Scene.

As I stood in the street in a state of shock, the male half of a sympathetic British couple sitting on the patio told me, “We ran into him yesterday. He’s very aggressive.”
Me: He’s a monster.
Woman: “I refused to buy him milk. He stuck his hand down his pants, grabbed his penis, and wiped his hand on my face.”
Me: (rare moment of being rendered speechless)

I highly recommend visiting Cambodia, as it’s an incredible country, with warm, gracious people. Just watch out for the little bastard working the corner of Pub and Street 8.

Just add milk. Photo love: Crave Online

Just add milk. Photo love: Crave Online

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In travel industry parlance, a “staycation” is a holiday at home.  As in, you’re broke, but you need to use up those paid vacation days, so you opt to sleep in, putter around the house, and visit that fascinating local museum dedicated to the history of widgets.

Until yesterday, I was thisclose to cashing in the 180,000 frequent flyer miles I’ve been hoarding for years, and book a trip to India or Southeast Asia for Christmas. I get antsy when I don’t get my hardcore travel fix on a regular basis, and in this economy, that means once a year.

The thing is, money is tight right now, so I’ve been waffling on committing to a major trip, no matter how down-n-dirty the destination. But, as sometimes happens, a miracle arrived in the nick of time, alleviating my financial woes and stress, and making my holiday dreams come true.

This was shot from my doorway. Suddenly, my bathroom seems very far away.

The photo at right is the five-by-three-foot pit now located just outside my front door (note that I have no back door in my glorfiied studio). My 100-year-old building’s sewer line burst the other night, and turns out the problem was a tree root in my yard. I came home last night to a back hoe, crew, and assorted onlookers watching my walkway get ripped apart.

Things got really exciting when I was asked to go inside, and turn on all of the faucets to make sure the blockage was clear. The crew had removed the bad section of pipe, so I effectively have an open sewer outside my door. We watched as wads of toilet paper, and one of my neighbors’ recent meals floated past.  Yep, seemed like things were all in working order.

The catch is that until the city certifies that the line is fixed, the missing section of pipe can’t be installed. And you know how cities are with expediting permits. Perhaps the groundwater contamination that’s occurring as I write will motivate them?

The crew bade me good night, adding a cryptic, “See you sometime next week!” I now have an open sewer instead of a patio, and that’s when I realized: Why the hell blow my miles and money to visit a developing nation? I have my own little slice of Bangladesh right here in Boulder. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to unpack my sarong.

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