Subjects of Wonder: Chapter 2

Buses run frequently, from Phnom Penh to Siam Reap every half hour or so. The pamphlet promised us a “European style coach”! Whatever that meant! As we packed to start the 4 hour bus ride, I realised that the phone was forgotten at the lovely dinner place the previous night! Good Lord know? Frantically I tried calling the restaurant, just as I was about to lose hope the H suggested calling the phone. Why Ofcourse! On the first ring a man answered. In broken English he began to say how he found the phone. He was the waiter who served us the night before. When we communicated to him our pressing time schedule and the bus we had to catch he promptly cam over to our hotel within 10 min and returnded the instrument. He never even waited for a reward/incentive. The incident just drove home the point of Cambodian hospitality. I was floored.

On such a happy mode we began our bus ride. Within an hour, almost one-quarter there the bus broke down and we were on the road wondering what lay ahead. It wasnt the best experience at all. The two hours on the road were spent making small talk with our fellow travellers, sipping on coconut water and inhaling all the highway smoke! Finally when good sense prevailed we flagged down the first bus that seemed to have space and boarded on quickly. Four more of our fellow passengers managed to hop on with us, and the ride continued and Siam Reap came.

Once in Siam Reap the sun began setting quickly. I found that there was hardly a twilight before it turned pitch dark. At night there are quite a few places to go to in Siam Reap, the night-bazaar and the pub street. Both are interesting places with a definite amount of European influence. Trendy eating places and watering holes fill the pubstreet while hip assortments of clothings and accessories dot the night-bazaar. Damage done after 3 hours of shopping (and haggling) was offsetted by a traditional massage and a crepe eat. The pebble-floored night market starts at about 7 in the evening and runs on till late. For those who love to wear the harem pants, the bandanas and chunky beads, its a wardrobe calling. And the bath salts, the massage oils et al. Bodia, a south-east asian venture of skin products has an interesting collection of products of lotions, scrubs, soaps and all. It is definitely more expensive than the unbranded stuff. Looked and felt better to me though.

Nights in Siam Reap usually end on the pub-street, with Man-U taking on Man-C the street was literally crowded as giant screens showed the match live. Cheering and singing? Aplenty! Gorging on traditional Khmer fanfare again. The pubstreet is possibly the only great eating place in Siam Reap! Barring ofcourse the restaurants of the 5 stars and one-off places. It has every kind of a restaurant, from mexican to italian, from khmer to Indian, so there’s a lot to choose from.

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