After taking one of my chill-out days for most of the day (we all need them. This trip’s a marathon, not a sprint), I run into a fellow dorm-mate from a few days ago in Kampot in the lobby of my guesthouse on my way out to buy more hippie pants at the market this afternoon.
I’m starting to realize that I’ll be seeing the same people over and over again on this backpacker’s trail. With few exceptions, that’s a perfectly good thing in my book.
We meet up for dinner in the evening, he brings a new friend into the mix, and we all decided to go out for some street food.
I take them to the stand I visited the previous night – one that served some delicious ribs. I had just assumed they were pork. Tonight, one of the guys points out that the ribs are pretty small to be pork.
We decide that they taste good and that’s all that matters because we can’t speak Khmer and we’ll likely never know.
The next stall we come to has frog on offer. “Well,” the same guy says, “this is something we have to try.“
So we did, along with some ginger salad. It wasn’t bad either.
It’s one of those things that really does taste a little like chicken.
The next day I wake up and decide I have to get out of Kratie. It’s been fun but the wifi sucks and I don’t want to spend another day trying not to change in front of the school children that have direct view into my window (no curtains, of course).
I hop on the back of a moto that takes me to a minibus that leaves two hours late. I’m the first in. Then a few more pile in. Then, before I know it, a crowd develops outside of the van and I realize we’re all going. There ends up being around 25 of us in a 15-person van and I can’t help but laugh.
Welcome to Cambodia.
I can’t help but feel like I’m probably the only one who paid $10 for this ride (I’m the only foreigner). I had a feeling that was the case when I bought the ticket, but since the internet was shoddy and I couldn’t research this, it is what it is.
The ladies next to me wave hello and giggle. I know they’re talking about me but I don’t think it’s mean in spirit. Indifferent, I stick in my headphones and zone out for an hour, trying to drown out the KTV tunes on the TV in the front (really? this crappy van has a TV in it??). Later, one of them asks to use my chap stick. Unsure if this is some sort of test, I hand it right over and she applies it.
A few hours later, her friend offers me some chili-covered nuts and tells me to “eat up”. The entire van turns to watch as I give them a try, nod my approval and put my hands together at the center of my heart and give a small nod – the way we say thank you in Cambodia.
I start to doze off as we pull up to Banlung, a small town near the Loas border, and am awoken by the group in the van and the anxious moto drivers outside telling me it’s my stop. I arrive at my guest house and realize I’m the only one here.
This will be my first day of solitude since my trip began.
I settle in little happy and ready to have some time to myself. Besides, it’s a huge dorm and it’s a steal having it to myself for $2 nightly.
That’s my feeling, at least, until two rats run under my bed. Several hours later a frog hops by and I can’t help but laugh. I ate one of his comrades last night. And, really, how often does a frog hop across your floor?
As my night now comes to a close, I still have those delicious ribs on my mind and decided about 10 minutes ago to pose the question of what they might be to my friends on Facebook. The overwhelming response is dog.
I certainly hadn’t intended to eat dog, and I thought that was the sort of thing I’d feel a little guilty eating. But, if that’s what I had, it was pretty good and I have to say based purely on taste (and that amazing sweet marinade they use in Khmer-style BBQ), that I’d have it again.
Sorry I’m not sorry!
No offense to my favorite not-so-little fur ball at home.