Cambodia’s Capital and Back to the Beach

2 Feb
Royal Palace and Temples, Cambodia

Royal Palace & Temples, Cambodia

Anyways, the following the day – we took it easy (mentally and physically). It was over 34C in the capital. We visited the Royal Temple, which has a 9,000 diamond encrusted Buddha statue and a Silver tile Pagoda, which was less than impressive. Each tile is made from pure silver and weighs 1kg each, but they covered the entire floor in cheap carpet and had display cases of knick knacks that all looked the same. Why not polish the floor and show it off! Kind of lame. The royal palace and temples in Bangkok were a lot more dramatic and better maintained. Still, the gardens were beautiful and the architecture was very inspiring.

Royal Palace and Temples, Cambodia

Royal Temples, Cambodia

Stefanie’s coworker’s brother lives in PP, so we arranged to have dinner with him and his boyfriend. He’s 65 years old and has been living in Cambodia for 3 years, working as a principal and a teacher. Before Cambodia, he lived in Japan for 28 years teaching at a university. He brought us to this restaurant called Friends, which trains underprivileged youth for careers in the restaurant industry. Stefanie and I arrived early and we were curious to meet his boyfriend. Was he Canadian, American, European, Cambodian, young, old? Well, weren’t we were surprised!

Michael is dating a 20 year old Cambodian. The two of them were very cute, but it was a little strange to see them together at first. You see that a lot in Asia – older, white men with young asian girls, but I hadn’t seen an older man with another guy before (or at least they didn’t look like a man *wink) Everyone has a story though and you can’t assume all of the girls (and boys) are prostitutes. Michael and his boyfriend have been dating for 2 years and live together. They met at a gay club where the boy friend was bartending. Or so they say.

The dinner was fantastic, tapas style and we were never short of conversation. Michael’s boyfriend was eager to know what colour skin we preferred – dark or light. Such a strange question, but white skin in Asia is revered. All the creams, soaps and sunscreens in Asia have ‘whitening’ agents, like bleach. It’s incredibly toxic.  At home, we have creams and machines to make you more tanned – which is worse? Michael’s boyfriend uses whitener, but we told him we loved dark skin and that he should be proud. He certainly wasn’t expecting that comment!

Michael was kind enough to pay for our whole meal and even drinks. He encouraged us to try the margaritas. I went with the classic, but Stefanie tried the pineapple chili concoction. It was spicy, but fairly delicious! We said our thank yous and good byes, and watched the two of them ride off in their motorcycle.

We woke up early the next morning and took the bus to Sihanoukville– Cambodia’s prime beach town. It is a white sand beach, but the water is a little green – not the turquoise clarity we’ve come to love. There are tons of beach chairs set up, which are free if you buy something from one of the restaurants. Stefanie and I usually buy water or french fries and stay out all day! There are TONS of people selling you things – which becomes annoying. There are the massage and manicure ladies, the bracelet kids and teens, the fresh fruit girls, the BBQ squid and seafood cooks, etc. There are also the beggers and young kids who collect the recyclables. The recycle kids are the poorest and have tattered clothing, but the kids and teens that sell bracelets have gold rings and fashionable clothing. Evidently, there’s a hierarchy on the beach.

Coconuts in Sihanoukville, Melissa To and Fro

Coconuts in Sihanoukville

Stefanie and I decided to have our hair threaded today. For $7.50, I had my arms and armpits threaded and Stef had her legs and armpits done. I’ve seen people do it before in Canada, but it’s pretty expensive. It’s like waxing, but they only use a piece of thread to pull out the hair. They do this technique with their fingers or teeth. Do not be fooled! It hurts so much, but it feels great after. They said it should last two months, but I think maybe 3 weeks.

Tomorrow night, we are taking the night bus to Vietnam. Next update, new country! I’ll miss the beach though – we’ve become so lazy, so we need to get moving 🙂

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