Siem Reap to Phnom Penh

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February 13th 2009
Published: February 13th 2009
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SR to PP

Points show approximate bus route, but the only stop was in Kampong Thom

I took the bus from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh this morning. The pick up was 40 minutes late, but since the bus was 30 minutes late, it worked out, and was a good illustration of why Buddhism and cognitive therapy are useful: My fretting didn't make the van come any faster, nor would it have prevented the bus from leaving on time. At oy te in Khmer--it doesn't matter.

This was supposed to be a tourist bus (i.e., water, restroom, snack, better seats). When I booked it from the hotel, I specifically asked for a bus with a bathroom. However, of these amenities, it had water. The seats were small and the thing was dirty. Oh, well. At oy te. Our highest speed was perhaps 40 km/hour, with frequent braking to pass (sometimes three vehicles abreast on roads that have only one lane in each direction), or to wait for many cows to get out of the road. I was glad to see more of the countryside. However, even with Bonine, the miracle anti-nausea drug, I couldn't read. Initially I missed my iPod, but the driver blasted videos and music in this order: American soft-rock hits karaoke with sustained high notes that really grated on the ear ("Hellooooo-----Is it meeeee you're looking fooor??"), a Rambo film dubbed in Khmer without English subtitles (possibly to only thing worse than all the yelling, shooting, and exploding was yelling in Khmer, shooting, and exploding in Cambodia), Khmer vocal stylings karaoke (which left me with the impression that all Khmer men are from the city and all Khmer women are from the country, with perfect skin and sultry ways under their modest kramas--it made me long for a Bollywood spectacular), a Japanese-style Khmer game show? Variety show? It's hard to say. It was a little like Sabado Gigante but with nothing but the host and the lady sidekick. Mercifully, the driver then put on Khmer radio.

My hotel isn't too far from the bus station, and is close to Wat Phnom, where I walked when it cooled down a little. Wat Phnom is the hill (hill-let, clearly artificial) from which the city derives its name. I'll try to post some photos tomorrow. There's one scene that the camera can't do justice to--a dog treeing a monkey on a lamp standard while other monkeys defend and two Buddhist monks look on. One of these monks either hit on me or wanted me to e-mail him a photo of me or himself. I thought they weren't supposed to speak with women, but I could be wrong, or he could be more desultory in his monkhood. Either way, I declined politely.

This neighborhood doesn't have the wealth of restaurants at a tourist standards that Siem Reap does. I ate dinner at my hotel restaurant, which is Japanese. Most of the menu is sashimi, which seems like a bad idea, but I ordered kake udon (wide noodles in broth with a little seaweed and scallions) and it arrived with two little plates of kim chee, a little plate of pickled vegetables and apple in sweetened yogurt, a carafe of purified water, and a tiny dish with two pieces each of watermelon and dragon fruit, which for $5.50 including gratuity was not a bad deal at all. I made the Khmer waitresses giggle by thanking them in Japanese.

I've heard from the Royal University. Here's the formal schedule:

Feb 15 meet with their Master's Counseling Psychology students
Feb 16 present on the Ecological model
Feb 17 present on approaches to Type II diabetes
Feb 18 present on approaches to HIV/AIDS
Feb 19 present on solution focused therapy

This means I'll be writing talks tomorrow!


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