Saturday, January 28, 2012

Tuk Tuks in Cambodia

The tuk-tuks in Cambodia are different from those in India— there two seats, one facing the other, handles made of metal shower tubes (those things… that make the handheld shower holdable).

And they look much nicer than the tuk-tuks in India.

Everyone here wears a helmet when they're on a motorcycle— at the very least, the driver does. Many of the passengers do as well. As we drove to the Tanei Guesthouse, I saw a child not more than… four years old, sitting on the motorcycle. He was looking up at his father, who had a very small yellow motorcycle helmet in his hand. Tenderly he placed it on the child's head, but we zoomed away before the scene ended.

Women don't wear skirts here. It's strange in a way— all of the hot countries we've been in so far are very clear on female 'modesty'. But the pants aren't short— always ankle-length. There are some things that don't change.

The road is good. There's no rocks or pebbles or strange bits of gravel, and in places Siem Reap looks like a somewhat run-down city. In other places it looks like a side street in India.

Stores are everywhere— signs for foot massage, body massage, or fish massages are everywhere. 

People came up to us when we were coming out of the grocery store, making the motorcycle revving motion with their hands, "Tuk-tuk?"

"No thank you." We said politely.

The currency here is in dollars. The Cambodian riel is also used, but there are 4000 of them to one dollar. We ate for $12.25 today— rice, noodles, shakes, beer… all sorts of things. I think the food costs about the same in India (though it's probably a bit more expensive there), but there's a huge difference between looking at a price in rupees, which are something like 125, 250, 320, and dollars— where food is $1.25.

Our hotel is large— Tanei Guesthouse has a restaurant, where we ate lunch (for the first time in a long time, we had three meals in a day!). People take off their shoes before they step up the steps into the restaurant or the reception. There's an unspoken agreement that you will carry your shoes to and from your room.

The atmosphere is oppressive— when we got off the plane there was a fresh breeze, but by the end of the day our clothes were sticking to our backs.

Sometimes I wonder how I ever managed to miss this atmosphere. Then I remember how badly we froze in China. After all… this culture is the warm sort. When you smile at people, they smile back wider. It's one of the best parts of these places.

We slept in the hotel room. The next few days will be 7am to 8pm days. The sort where you can't do anything except walk and look and take pcitures and try to aborb.

They are some of the most exhausting and memorable days.

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