Out and About

June 25th, 2005. Categories / Cambodia

Today, I woke up at 6:30 and played soccer at 7. No breakfast.

S. and I left early and headed into the city to develop photos of the kids for the kids. The photo lab was staffed with a variety of characters, including a very friendly lady that spoke a little English. They let me use the toilet, but I didn’t know exactly where to pee. Choices were on the floor of the shower stall or into a waist-high basin that looked more like a narrow bathtub than toilet. I chose to pee on the floor (and my shoe) and wash the yellow water away with less yellow water from the shower hose. While we waited for the photos to print, S. and I walked to the Phnom Wat. It’s a neat little wat in the middle of a large traffic circle, and the grounds are tranquil and dense with shade trees. There are also monkeys wandering all over the place eating and mating and sleeping in trees and looking like little people. One ran frantically across the road and climbed a light pole to get up onto someone’s balcony. There was an elephant too for some reason. It was like a zoo without cages. S. and I left there and had an early lunch at 8:30.

Once we picked up the photos, S. and I went our separate ways. The other had a headache and I wanted to find some pants in the Central Market. I only brought three pairs of pants, and the dirt and physical activity of the place is wearing them out faster than I anticipated. Plus, my non dressy jeans are looking a little crusty.

The Central Market is a huge building surrounded by a traffic circle. It looks like a post-apocalyptic train station from the future. Instead of it’s initial purpose, it has been filled from wall to wall with merchandise and people. And the clutter and bustle has spilled out into exterior booths shielded from the rain by all cover of tarps and fabric and cords. The passageways between booths is labyrinthine and claustrophobic. But it is roughly organized by what arm of the building or what corner of the street it’s in. Walls and walls of people selling clothing in one area, a meat market in another, house wares, fabric, electronics, and food in other areas, all converging on the jewelry and watches that are sold from high counters in the cavernous center of the building. I bought a pair of dress pants on the cheap and went to another area of the market to get them hemmed. I changed into a sarong in front of many female seamstresses and sat while my pants were put under the needle. It was lunch time, and everyone was sitting in there area eating all sorts of bizarre foods. I want to go back before I leave and try some of the food.

On the way out, there were some persistent beggars and an endless set of solicitations to get a ride. And I was wearing a nice thick dark shirt and sweating and wanting to take a nap right there in the middle of it all. I have gotten used to so much noise at all times that it can actually be relaxing now, or at least not as noticeable.

I came home and played more soccer and basketball and ping pong and a ping pong derivative and rollerbladed and sat on the ground and had kids tickle me. Not a bad day. Except that I just rubbed chili oil in my eye and it burns. But I deserved it because I’m a selfish and worthless little bastard.

S. and I bought a huge tub of fortified dried milk to “supplement” (harhar) the vitamins we bought earlier. The milk powder is called Dumex, and it has a very white little boy with his arms wide open as if when you lug the big can you are actually hugging him. And while this package is strange, it is not nearly as weird as our Soviet-era box of Lerry’s Corn Flakes. The box has a photo of a weird smiling man that seems to be pushing through his wife to escape with an equally weird looking child into the corn fields behind them. And there is this lamely photoshopped image of the cereal with fake milk and an out of focus spoon in the foreground. Finish with a big splatter of milk in the sky. Maybe I should be a cereal box designer in Russia. The flakes taste fine, but there are a few black specks in them. Rat poop, no doubt.

Dumex and Child Abduction Cereal: part of this complete breakfast.

Some more photos:

S. in front of Wat Phnom. That is a working clock in the background.

Some of the monkies at Wat Phnom.

Exterior of Central Market.

View of the interior dome.

One of the cluttered walkways.

View of the meat counters.

Detail of a meat counter. I wanted to take details shots in the produce area and near the seafood as there were some amazing colors and moments, but I would have felt like a complete dork.

This girl reminds me of Andre 3000 from Outkast.

Me wearing my Pandemonium shirt sitting with J. and concealed by M.

More later.

One Comment


Anonymous:

i am soooooooooooo glad you posted the photos of the cereal and dried milk packages. it was funny to read your description and now that i’ve seen the pics i’m laughing so hard i sound like a howler monkey!

Leave a Comment