Post #29 from SE Asia
March 10th, 2010
Siem Reap, Cambodia
There is some fine dining in Siem Reap. Most of the time I eat in the open markets with the other peasants. I can find some great local foods there. But I am trying the national dishes of the countries I visit, and checking out a few recommended restaurants. So I have ordered the national dish of Cambodia, Amok. It is a fish baked in a mild curry and coconut sauce inside banana leaves, with various herbs and vegetables, many of which I have never had before. Along with that I have a seafood salad on lightly steamed veggies and greens, again with unknown herbs. I am amazed from the first bite.
I have discovered a new vegetable, CHO. It looks a bit like a chopped off artichoke. From it you pluck out these embedded seeds and peel them. Inside them is a savory nut like seed. I am munching on these as I travel.
And yes, I get yet another marriage proposal. I am SO popular! They love me for my youthful bod and good looks, of course. A young lady sells me a bottle of cold water and then begins interrogating me.
No, I am not married, I answer.
Ok. I marry you, but only if you cut hair off. I not marry woman. I marry man.
Ohhh? Okay. I will cut my hair off. Then we marry. Okay.
I go live with you after marriage. I be good wife. Work hard. Then we have baby. Just one. Tall baby, like you.
Me tall? But at 5′ 10″ here, I have often found myself to be the tallest person in a room of 50. She was about 4′ 10″ and 85 lbs. But wow, this woman gets to the point.
“How old are you?” I ask.
“24. How old you?”
“46, ” I lie thru my teeth. I didn’t want to end this conversation this instant.
But I remember my dear mother’s advice. She once said to me “Son, before you take a bride, there is one thing I really think you should do. We always did in our generation, and I think you should too. I really think that you should know her name first.”
So, taking my dear mother’s advice, I look Ms. water vendor woman directly in the eyes. Then I muster up the courage to ask the question.
“And what is your name?”
“Myai” she says, or something like that. I ask her to write it down and she does. But it is in Khmer Script. I look at her name. I cannot recognize a single letter. But it does look strangely familiar. For it looks exactly like a bunch of earthworms doing tantric yoga. And I’d recognize that anyplace.
We make plans for a lifetime. Then I give her my email address. She looks puzzled. She does not know what email is. Ohhh? And then I ride off into the sunset, wondering just what I have left behind.
But shortly ahead, I witness the one little piggie who did NOT go to the market.
Two guys pass me on small motorcycles carrying FOUR and FIVE 75 to 100 lb. LIVE pigs! I oink you not. The pigs are strapped upside down on the cycles with their hooves flailing the air, squealing and smelling to high heaven.
The driver of the first motorcycle is actually sitting on a live pig as he passes me. I didn’t learn that in driver’s ed. They get ahead of me. Then I see some turmoil. I watch a pink pig go running across a dry rice field. He has escaped! They stop the motorcycles, batten down the remaining pigs, and go chasing the pig into the field.
But this is no dumb piggie. He is feeling his wild boar genes today and he is gone. No amount of cajoling will bring him back. I find myself totally rooting for the pig.
And for the last photo, here come de mattress delivery man, on a 100cc motorcycle.