Just a quick post today; I’m on the road in Cambodia, visiting friends in Siem Reap and Phnom Penh. The plan was also to go to Battambang for a day or two, but the Try brothers changed their minds and decided to stay longer in Siem Reap (where they used to live, and where I first met them 10 years ago) to visit friends of their own. No problem for me; it saves having to book more transportation and hotel rooms. Plus, it’s nice to actually relax and do not much of anything for a day or two.
It’s been a very pleasurable trip so far. I met my friend Sochiet for dinner in Phnom Penh the first night and we talked about how much that city has changed in the past decade. Indeed, there are now skyscrapers being built and modern shopping centers popping up around the city; things you never could have imagined in the late 1990s. Sochiet is in between jobs right now and working nights as a motorcycle taxi driver. He’s an extremely bright young man, and speaks nearly fluent English, and I hope he can secure a better job soon.
Dave Perkes from Peace of Angkor Tours was also in Phnom Penh earlier this week and was headed back to Siem Reap on Tuesday, so he offered to give me — and the four Try brothers — a lift to Siem Reap. More traffic on that road than ever before, which slows down a trip that had been faster after the highway was resurfaced a few years ago. Oh well, it’s still a scenic drive.
Here in Siem Reap, as usual we’ve had most of our meals at the Hawaii Restaurant on Wat Bo Road, where the food is good, the service always friendly, and the kids can play pool. As usual, they beat me every game. My friend So Pengthai, a tour guide, has been busy with clients most of the week, but we met for dinner one night. He brought along his 2-year-old daughter. His wife has to stay home and take care of their newest arrival: a son that was born two weeks ago! Speaking of new events, my friend Rong, who works at the Siem Reap Airport, also met us for dinner one night and brought something new of his own: the young woman he married three weeks ago! And to top off the list of things going on, So Pengthai is headed to Phnom Penh next week to apply for a visa at the US Embassy. His tour company wants to send him to a training course in Cleveland (Cleveland?! Yes, that’s the plan!) in late April. Needless to say, he’s quite excited, but also a bit reluctant to leave his wife and newborn son for the six weeks that the course will take.