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Published: September 12th 2018
The loud noises arising from the central market below reminded me that yes, I was in Asia. It was barely 8am, and since I had been out late the night before I had planned to have an easygoing lazy day. But still there was no way I was going to be able to sleep through all that racket. Feeling rough the way I was, I decided that the simple hotel breakfast was not going to be nearly enough for me, so I headed to Madison’s Pub for something more substantial.
When I arrived the only people there were the French owner counting last night’s receipts and a friendly Khmer waitress. When the waitress laid my breakfast out before me, I knew I had come to the right place. The highlight was this huge fresh baguette. I knew it was good because it crackled just right when I squeezed it. Into it I stuffed all the ingredients on my plate. The eggs, bacon, beans, ham, everything and topped it off with copious amounts of chili sauce. I washed it all down with an iced coffee and a banana shake. I was back and ready for action.
On the wall was
a cool movie poster for Don’t Think I Have Forgotten
, an excellent movie about the pre-Khmer Rouge music scene that I cannot recommend enough. Its soundtrack flowed through my earbuds constantly during my journey.
I had brought a book along to read, but as I glanced about at the tropical flora and listened to the jaunty music I began to slide right back into the expat vibe I had been missing since I left Japan. If I lived in Battambang this is what I would be doing almost daily. As I was paying my bill I fell into a long conversation with the French owner about Battambang life and even about the Cambodian bands, Dengue Fever and Cambodian Space Project, that I had become so enamored with
I have never traveled around abroad with an internet receiving device. I want to my mind to be free to experience the country I am in and not get sucked down the social media vortex. So, I always rely on finding internet cafes. This, of course, with the advent of smart phones is becoming increasingly difficult. While I was still in New York pre-trip I had researched where some might be
and marked them off in my paper edition of the Lonely Planet. Miraculously, this method actually worked. In Battambang I found one near a bridge on the northern edge of town.
I could not believe internet cafes actually still existed. Once, I walked in I discovered the reason for their existence. Almost every seat was filled up with a 12-14-year-old Cambodian boy with a headset on playing video games, talking back and forth, and completely locked in on the action. I squeezed myself in between them and fired off an “I’m alive email” to my family back home.
One thing I love about Cambodia is their giant elaborate roundabouts. After sending off emails and catching up on the latest basketball happenings I set off in search of the Vishnu Roundabout. It was hot walking with many noisy motos whizzing by, but eventually it materialized out in the distance. There stood Vishnu towering elegantly above the fray. Blue skinned, eight armed, and holding a huge snake.
I had gotten sweaty, surprise surprise, in all my walking so I decided to retreat to my hotel for a plunge into the cold rooftop pool. Afterwards feeling refreshed and in my
zone of relaxation I decided to try a massage one more time. I had a devised strategy. This time I would make it absolutely explicit that the masseuse was not to touch the area of my injury. Unfortunately, the girl could not speak much English. So, what followed was a massage focusing almost exclusively on my legs and one confused masseuse. Also, the massage bed was hard as a rock unlike the one in Siem Reap and even laying on it was tough going. That was it. Massages were officially out for the rest of my trip.
As I wandered back to my hotel, covered in oil and wincing at my tender rib, who should appear, but Sok. He ran up to me with the biggest of smiles. He asked how my night had gone and we bantered back and forth about nothing in particular. As we parted I said “See you tomorrow morning. We’ll go see Battambang’s north.” Another big smile and thumbs up from Sok.
I ended the day with a meal of Khmer meatballs and chicken papaya soup before heading over to Madison’s Pub. The French bartender was very interested in the venue I had discovered the night before. I was beginning to feel more and more like a local. However, the effects of multiple long nights out were catching up with me. So, after having one lone beer along with mango ice cream it was time to retire. It was a fitting way to end a perfectly decadent day out in Battambang.
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