My birthday

November 13, 2008 at 1:44 pm Leave a comment

Worried about spending the first day of my 23rd year alone i made a post in the Cambodian community on couchsurfing.com inviting people to join me at such and such a place at 8 o’clock… I picked the cafe haphazardly. According to the Lonely Planet, they had “scrumptious desserts” and that was enough. At 7:30pm i left my guesthouse and set off for the Boddhi Umma Tree cafe only to realize that it was on the other side of Phnom Penh and that even if i could walk the distance in 30 min, the festival mob would keep me from moving very fast.

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The Khmer attendent from the guesthouse told me to turn left and left i tried to go for about 15 minutes (walking a good 2 city blocks) until i realized that it was the wrong way. Going back wasn’t much of an option because of the immense crowds. I took a side street with fewer people until i got to an area where traffic was not limited by police restrictions. Taking a taxi wasn’t easy. No one spoke English or understood my map, and as i hadn’t much clue as to where i was i couldn’t direct the way either…

Khmer (like most southeast Asian) drivers (in my experience) will gladly take you anywhere,  confidently inviting you into their taxi, even if they have no idea where it is you want to go. I decided that the cafe was probably down and to the left and made motions with my hands. All that needed to be settled now was the price. Cambodians don’t generally talk about price until the trip is finished, but as a tourist i don’t want to risk problems. He wouldn’t go for $1, which was very reasonable. But his neighbor did. Amidst a nuerotic labyrinth of motos and pedestrians, he drove me… in the wrong direction! I’m going to be late to my own birthday party! i worried. What if they leave!? They don’t even know what i look like… I was starting to get that helpless feeling that leads to tears.

In the end, i did make it. Half an hour late but my new friends were still there :)

Later in the guesthouse i almost broke my camera. Taking self portraits of myself in my new scarf i started to think how fortunate i was not to have lost or broken my camera. I may have just parted with $60 for a doctor and i may have other frivolous expenses, but at least i am “saving” several hundred by not having to buy a new camera. Then i set the camera on the top bunk (oh yea, i didn’t change rooms or guesthouses… turned out that i actually enjoy the communal living and cold shower. who knew?!) and stroke a pose .. just as the camera went bungi jumping!

The consequences were a broken focus and a shutter that made noise. But after playing with the manual settings for a bit and coming to terms with the loss it started to work again! So thank you (camera) for working and being my campanion since i bought you off amazon in January.

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Entry filed under: travel. Tags: , .

photos Vietnam (Oct 19 – Nov 11) Legacy Khmer rouge

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