it’s so damn hot i’m seeing polka dots!

well i am sure that you have all been anxiously wringing your hands in anticipation of the next morsel of entertainment from your cursed heroes abroad, and i can speak for the whole of the prime directive when i say, sorry for any pee in your panties but i do hope you  enjoyed the mounting suspense. i believe we last left off on some island in thailand and from there we jumped to…another island in thailand. ko chang, to be exact, by way of another fine recommendation from a certain j. winston, which neatly moved us easternly towards the forever fated land of cambodge. we found ourselves in a well suited ewok bungalow village, where each leaning tower came with a complimentary outdoor shower and shitter sideorder. after weeks of being minorly adrift looking for the perfect beach/ocean combination, our mission appeared completed, and much more so than the last public use of that phrase. of course every paradise has its price, and as such we ended up having to share our shady sand spot with a few lazy loafing regulars, 2 of which succeeded in being the ugliest couple ever to known to co-star in consensual relations (presumably, that is). i wish i had a photo to back up this statement, but there was no way to casually capture such a visual atrocity, plus our camera had been acting up and there was no reason to risk its integrity. they became one of many pieces of our puzzled daily routine; others included watching wimbledon while stealing wifi and eating bananna pancakes smothered in chocolate sauce and honey, wading in the undertow/cross current riddled sea while watching asian couples being heroically dragged from death, and watching up to 2 recently released blockbuster dramas on a big screen, while being served anything from curry to pizza (or a lovely indecisive mixture of both) in large, burning-man-vision inspired hot pink and purple fuzzy beds. the height of our luxury really culminated our last night (after a whole week), when resident dj knips threw us our own personal (by default) deep house dance party.

with the untz still fresh in our over-hanged heads and our bags ill assembled, we climbed aboard the early morning ride to the neighborly border. our fellow passengers must have feared our stench (specifically wafting from alex’s 10 toes these days), for about 3 hours into our journey the air conditioned van contained only alex, myself, the stoned navigator, the redbull crazed driver and the maryland state flag. we sadly parted ways at the border, but not before making a pitstop at the really crappy thai food place that also happened to sell cambodian visas in an unknown, unnamed border town. unlike other countries, where prearrangement for your visa links you to, at the very least, a government sponsored queue, to cross the thai/cambodian border all you have to do is order lunch, tell your waiter that you want a visa, suspiciously surrender your passport for an undetermined about of time, and then pray silently and curse loudly once abandoned at the cross-country line. thankfully, we were not forced to use the procedural preemptive picture we took of said establishment as ‘if we are stranded without documents this is where they went’ proof, for our passports miraculously found us, fresh with visas. as it turns out, the confusion did not cease; i don’t think cambodia possesses even one photocopy machine, as we filled out the same document page 3 times: once on the thai side, once at the actual point of entry, and once in cambodia. there were photos at each of these points, as well as health documents and other random bits of information that they must file not electronically but in the largest manilla envelope closet in the world. a sight worth seeing, i’m sure. once through, we then had to figure out the bus system and were told that since we were ‘ko chang’ people we were not to communicate or follow the ‘bangkok’ people. i have no idea what this meant, but i do know that those people were talking about their useful ‘recommendation’ to bribe a border policeman and that they had to ride on a fully packed bus to the bus station while we got a private coach. from there things started to look up, once we repeatedly and forcefully refused the offers of private taxis and debunked the claims that the bus would take 6 hours instead of 3 (thanks for the tip, LP).

life changed immediately upon that crossing of arbitrary limits, as dust and pushcarts began to fill the view of every window. the countryside leading into siem reap is superbly flat, making your eyes believe they can undoubtedly detect the true curvature of the earth, and opens a nicely building prelude into the country as well as the ‘bustle’ of the city. it’s funny how you can love one city for the same reasons you dislike another, and i was curiously struck by that fact during our tuk tuk ride across town. i have not found a patter of wonderment in our days in bangkok, but rather have found myself reverting into a devilish sarcasm that can stunt even the best pad thai taste. even so, the kho san inspired beat of siem reap managed to replace the smirk with a smile. perhaps it was the mixture of the ever present past with the promising hope of a future, but that city was full of tiny tingles. of course, this stance might well have been enhanced by our local expat connection, kyla, who carried with her and to us wit, motivation, laughter, and fabulous friends; we had found a crew and with them a banging way to celebrate our long left motherland and her continual rebirth. that’s right, we had a holiday in cambodia on the 4th of july that boasted hot dogs, budweiser, guacamole, sparklers, a 2 hour michael jackson tribute remix, and a KEG! you would be surprised how many europeans burst their tap pumping cherries that night as a quick survey showed only us northern americans (yes, canadians too) independently purchase kegs. after breaking the dirty feet taboo and dancing barefoot in the mud until 5am, we were crowned party VIPs and given the outdoor daybed to crash out on. america, fuck yeah!

so that’s all we did in siem reap: drink too much, eat too much, and lay in the pseudo comfort that comes when you remain completely still under a fan in a cheap hostel room. j/k, stupid, we totally manned up after those days to tackle the almighty 8th wonder of the world, ankgor wat. after all, it had been since egypt since we’d seen some really old shit. we decided to do it right and hire a tuk tuk for the day which eventually turned into 3 days as ankgor wat houses every kind of temple and temple-like structure that humans could ever be interested in building, let alone seeing. not only is it seriously diverse, it’s frickin’ huge – one day we went out about 50km past the city, hiked several km, and saw little bits of ruin triumphing under an almost impressive waterfall. wow, you are now thinking, those hot humid consecutive days must have really taken its toll. ok sure, but you know what really was the wearing piece of those days? the kids and women who could unflatteringly be compared to vultures on roadkill when it comes to selling…anything. the temples during minutely magnificent times could embrace that complete surreal and quiet energy that lingers in such structures, but each time i started to feel it, it was shattered by the calls of “ladieeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee, would you like some waterrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr?’ even if i was holding a freshly opened, ice cold one. the children were the worst, because they have been taught the right strings on which to pull. one little boy came up to us, used the internationally competent motion for food, while shoving his face full of corn. another one, who wore nothing but a malnuritioned belly and a confucious inspired smile, put a bracelet between my bag and my body and told me if i didn’t keep it i didn’t love cambodia. if that didn’t sucker me in, when i returned it to him, via the ground, the look from the surrounding strangers as he yelled ‘ohhhh myyyyyyyy gawwwwwd’ certainly pushed me in the direction of his desired affect. for the most part our patience remained fortified and was rewarded by interactions with other cambodians. our tuk tuk driver, whose smile was so wide it seemed to trickle out from the sparkle in his eyes, saw 2 exasperated expressions one afternoon, and beckoned us to rejoin him by comically mimicking that all too frequent street shout ‘ladieeeeeeee, you want tuk tuk?’ – a joke that had literally bonded us all. we were also pleasantly interrupted by a man who wanted to practice english, specifically the parts of the language that pertain to WWE. it turned out that he had just purchased a television so as to become a RAW connoisseur, but first wanted to know whether or not the fights were real. after explaining the truth verbally, alex and I decided a demonstration was in order. it must have been a good smackdown because another man came chivalrously running to my aid, but ended up quickly taking sides with the still unconvinced man from before once dually informed of the situation.

and then, after many sweats and subsequent showers, we found ourselves in the very dusty river city (shouldn’t that be an oxymoron?) of battambang, the most fun enunciated city since addis ababa we’ve come across. it turns out there is not much to do in the city aside from mopping a brow and drinking fruit shakes. so after being properly inaugurated, we met with one of the moto drivers to arrange a day trip out into the country. tin was one of those ambiguously aged asians whose face could be a geometric specimen for the definition of round. his eagerness was slightly unsettling upon first meeting, but the following day it quickly transformed into one of the highlights of our trip, especially present during a lecture on polka dots (also known as gecko eggs). he had arranged for another familiarly featured moto driver, bon, to take one of us (me), making the weirdest quadruplet of people i’ve ever seen. alex and i towered over our new buddies from the back of their bikes, and they seemed to revel in the excitement and youth of it all. we each learned their stories while choking on the dust of the countryside and enjoying a good case of what is accurately addressed as ‘numb bum.’ i do not know the special cadences that alex enjoyed from tin, but bon proudly started each sentence with ‘in my country’ and eventually expressed his desire to become a teacher, because his teachers were very corrupt and bribable. while they were probably happy learning and practicing their comedic english slang all day, we were fated to a more holistic outing. our first stop was a long uphill trek to the killing caves, where the khmer rouge took thousands of their victims. because the communist regime had a continual shortage of modern weapons, bullets were a scarce commodity not to be used unless absolutely necessary. that meant that killings were often executed with an ordinary blunt hammer; the skull was repeatedly smashed until the person was dead, or near enough to dead to be permenantly buried. the caves were beautiful, but there were times when the shakes crept into my skin while contextualizing what had previously been only real on a printed page. there was a display of the skulls, none of them whole, which made me admire the strength the country must posses in order to predominantly display it’s own gruesomeness. in the same area, there were large pieces of artillery that had been left to the jungle, which eerily did not look quite so decayed. luckily, the rest of our day was more uplifting, looking at the modern style of the buddhist temples integrated with the beautiful architecture of the past. even though we opted not to take the bamboo train into town, the supposedly only unique thing in battambang, we did enjoy a, uh, exhilarating cruise back to our too hot hotel and the best cold shower known to red dust, well at least on this side of mars.

the only way to dine.

the only way to dine.

a true bathing beauty.

a true bathing beauty.

camodia - straight pimpin'.

cambodia - straight pimpin'.

ass shakin' untz.

ass shakin' untz.

these colors ran, right into my mouth.

these colors ran, right into my mouth.

new american friends.

new american friends.

kyla and i - it's ok, she's british.

kyla and i - it's ok, she's british.

the obligatory ankor wat masterpiece.

the obligatory ankor wat masterpiece.

easy up, not so easy down.

easy up, not so easy down.

a typical ankgorian view.

a typical ankgorian view.

i certify this is not pornography.

i certify this is not pornography.

it's ALIVE!

it's ALIVE!

a well planned portrait.

a well planned portrait.

ride 'em right, cowboy.

ride 'em right, cowboy.

cambodian bandits.

cambodian bandits.

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6 Responses to “it’s so damn hot i’m seeing polka dots!”

  1. Emperor Ming Says:

    Great stuff here, neat post. Shame you never made it to Kanchanaburi

  2. banana pancake! you want!

    i made banana pancakes this morning for lauren and jarreau and i told them about the vendors who cook for the drunk westerners. the ball of dough stretched flat and fried with a big slab of butter. the chocolate syrup. the condensed milk. yeeaaaaaaahhyuuuuuuuuuuuuuummmm!

    they are thinking about moving HERE! instead of oakland for the third trimester! you guys will be here for the exciting part, looks like. love, sean

  3. PoppaSteve Says:

    More Ankgor Wat, please.

    We are leaving for the Galapagos on Thursday. We’ll send you some blue footed boobies!

    Love, Dad

  4. SJ Mazer Says:

    Alex, wash your feet so you don’t give your homies (Americans) a bad reputation. Hedonism reigns supreme in Cambodia!!!
    Love,
    Mom

  5. Chelsea T Says:

    Ankgor Wat looks amazing! And your trip sounds fantastic.

    Can’t wait to see you guys when you get back to the states. You should come visit me in Colorado Springs. 🙂
    ~Chelsea

  6. Mommy Dearest Says:

    well where are you 2 now…… A- the beard is growing with each country you visit and M I am glad you are not growing a beard with each country you visit….. it is hot and summer here in Ky…. it makes me a tad bit irritable so I keep my emails short…love to you both MD

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