Day 71: One Dollah, You Buy?

Trip Start May 20, 2008
1
57
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Trip End Aug 19, 2008


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Thursday, July 31, 2008

The second day of our Angkor Wat biking. Having done the whirlwind "grand tour" circuit the day before, checking each one off on our imaginary list, today was the day to take things slow and truly soak the sight in. After another $1 breakfast buffet we rehired the bikes and returned to the temple fields, this time starting off with and spending a full hour at Angkor Wat itself. We just slowly wandered around its courtyards, slowly wandered through the crumbling halls inside, sat on the ruins watching the clouds rush by (they move fast here), again all just soaking this marvel of human engineering in. A monkey passed by at one point but did not stop to say hi. After we were both satisfied, which may our may not have had to do with the arrival of a loud tour group & guide w/megaphone who ignored the numerous "no loud voices" signs posted throughout, we moved on to the Bayon. After seeing Ankgor Wat, this previous favorite was a slight bit less impressive than it was the first time around, but was nonetheless quite cool. This was followed by a visit to the monkey forest (in between Angkor Wat & the Bayon), where within the span of fifteen minutes we saw one monkey snatch a banana bunch from a "feed the monkeys!" vendor, and then toss a half eaten one down from the tree in spite when the vendor began prodding it, a separate less noteworthy monkey theft, and two other monkeys randomly hop on each other and have monkey-sex for a minute or so, then hop off. My love of monkeys has only been reaffirmed since the trip began, even if one of them threw my camera against a tree trunk.

After hill climb to see one final epic view of the temple, but again too much overcast for sunset, the day's bike ride around Angkor ended. There is much detail I have left out however, all involving the merchant children blanketing the park selling their various knick-knacks.
Sample exchanges:
- "You hungry for lunch?"
- "Yes."
(a horde of kids from competing restaurants attack)
- "Come eat here!" "No, here!" "Here!" "You hungry?" ... and the classic: "but I asked you first!"

- "Hello, where you from?"
- "California."
- "Capital of California is Sacramento. Capital of US is New York. Population of US is 300mil. US speaks English. Capital of Michigan is Chicago. Okay you pay me money?"

- "You buy book?"
- "No, sorry."
- "You buy hat?"
- "No."
- "You buy sunglasses?"
- "No."
- "You by scarf?"
- "NO."
- "You buy something to drink?"
- "(ignore)"
- "You buy some food?"
- "(ignore, patience buckling)"
- "You buy postcard?"
- "We're students, we don't have much money. But look! Those tourists are rich, you'd be better off asking them! It was nice meeting you."
- "Ok bye."
(child merchant leaves and begins pestering the adjacent tourists while we escape)

- "You buy postcard?"
- "No."
- "But I can count, one two three four five six etc..."
- "Ooh very good, no postcard though sorry."
(interaction ends, as we pass another pair of annoyed tourists being followed by an army of child merchants, ALL of whom are counting)
- "Yes I'll buy the two guidebooks, all I have is 1,000 Thai Baht bill though."
- "Okay you give me 1,000 baht I change for you and give you $1." (the exchange rate is $1 = 33B)- "Ehh hah don't think so."
- "Haha you smart tourist."

And the best of them:

10yr old Kid: "Okay you park bike for free here if you buyone water from me, $1."
Jeff: "Alright, see you on our way back."
Kid: "Okay thank!"
(we spend an hour in the temple & return)
Jeff: "Okay here's your $1 for the water."
Kid: "No you promised $2!"
Jeff: "No, I promised $1..."
(kid becomes VERY angry)
Kid: "Why you change your mind so fast? You liar. F#CK
YOU! F#CK YOU! I not let you park bike here again!"
Jeff: "You be nicer to older people..."
Kid: "YOU A F#CKING MAN! YOU KNOW! F#CK YOU!"
Oh, those merchant kids...

Following Angkor & slightly getting lost on the bike ride back, we wandered around town for a bit poking through markets and spying for a cheap place to eat. In the market we both decided to get shirts. Bargaining was no different than in Nepal or the other SE Asian countries, except that this one uses the US dollar as its unofficial main currency... so instead of trying to bargain them down 30 baht (for example), which is equal to $1, you're actually using the words "Two dollars is too expensive, I can only pay one dollar." Now, in this part of the world, that's a lot of money (enough for a budget restaurant meal), but it was the first time I really felt how arbitrary the bargaining was. It's necessary though because A: wallet is broken & B: if $1 is the normal price, paying $2 contributes to worse local inflation. You're expected to be courteous and not haggle them down to the last cent, but even if it's only a $1 rip-off, it's irresponsible tourism to allow yourself to be ripped off by one meals worth of local currency. Or so Lonely Planet, the word of the Lord blessed be it sayth. Makes sense to me, though it's going to be hard accepting a $30 bill for one grocery run when I get back to the US. Also, sidenote-ish: According to the merchant, Cambodians hate Thais & Chinese and don't get along well with Vietnamese. Laos, Cambodia's equally impoverished, sparsely populated northern friend has similar feelings and has bonded with Cambodia over their mutual trouble with more powerful bullying neighbors.

Swimming pool time ended the night, and it was off to Battambang on a Mekong ferry tomorrow.

---Vital Signs---
Food Poisonings = Zero
Malaria Vaccine = 50% complete
Green Tea Milkshakes = 3
Bug Bites = Less than expected
Bug Repellent = Almost gone in Siem Reap, totally gone at the time of writing
Bugs = Less mosquitoes than I thought there would be, Nepal probably boosted my mosquito tolerance
Burritos Craved = Many
Homesickness Meter = Reduced since Jeff's arrival but yeah... a burrito would be nice.early bedtime was necessary.
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Comments

cdnski12 on

I've always found it best to tour thru the local museum first; then go to the local attractions. This provides a good background to understand what you are looking at. I sprung for a local English speaking guide for the day. Mr Sam provided a car and excellent commentary for $50. He is a local History Teacher. We covered everything in a day. I went back the next day for early morning & late afternoon photos.

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