Tag Archives: Sihanoukville

Indian Curry Pot Restaurant located in Sihanoukville, Cambodia

Curry-Infused Dreams of Freedom (or) A Backyard for my Dog to Piss
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Indian Curry Pot Restaurant & Guest House,
I wouldn’t want to stay at a place called the Curry Pot,
even for the price of $3 a night.

I imagine a hammock strung above a steaming pot,
with curry smells rising up in dreamlike wisps of spiciness,
curling through the air, drifting below my nostrils as I try to sleep,
infusing my dreams with temples, rats and brightly-colored saris.

Anyway, I’m not looking for cheap accommodation.
I’m looking for a good omelet.

Usually I order curry at Indian restaurants,
This time I try an omelet
with a baguette and fresh fruit on the side.

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I sit at one of the few tables,
notice an adorable little girl with big brown eyes
milling about between the tables
but my attention is drawn to the sea turtles on TV.

Mid-omelet,
not expecting a baby to be sleeping in a restaurant,
I am surprised to hear
a whimper from the corner.
A woman immediately appears from the kitchen
to breastfeed the baby
who had been nestled quietly in a bed behind the counter
the whole time.

As I’m swallowing the last bite of banana,
I meet the owner, a happy man
who enjoys chatting with his customers.

He pulls a chair up to my table,
talks about his native land of Pakistan,
the restrictions,
strict Muslim codes
compared to here in Cambodia.

He takes customer service to an unfamiliar and appealing level
of intimacy and entertainment.
It’s as though he’s chatting with a friend in his living room.
Then I realize that’s exactly what’s happening.
I’m the friend who has entered his home to enjoy a meal.

Here in Cambodia,
he’s allowed a family,
a business on his own terms,
freedom to be a homeowner and entrepreneur.
Selling curry, omelets and cheap accommodation from his living room.

I’m from Boise, Idaho
where people place a different value on property.

Yes, a person can own a piece of land.
On that land
they build or buy a box
to store possessions.
The backyard
simply a place for the dog to piss.
Beautify the front yard,
motivated by a Better Homes and Garden look.
A fancy exterior will increase property value.

Indian Curry Pots
do not exist
in Boise, Idaho.
The only type of acceptable business
in suburbia:
a Garage Sale.
Make way for new possessions!

As I get up to leave, I realize
the 5-year-old girl is his daughter.
She comes over to sit in his lap,
wants to know if I can
recite the ABC’s.

America, Better Change.

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Indian Curry Pot Restaurant & Guest House
Victory Hill
Sihanoukville, Cambodia

Same Same but Different Restaurant located in Sihanoukville, Cambodia

Ketchup has Failed Me

The restaurants at Serendipity Beach consistently serve the same horrible omelet saturated in grease with small pieces of onion intermixed with nibbles of carrot. Trying to finish one of these salty omelets is more depressing than watching tourists ignoring landmine victims as they scoot across the sand asking for money. I couldn’t even finish one of the omelets. This is the first time ketchup has failed me.

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I gave up and started eating a breakfast of baguettes with Nutella. After several days, I felt weak. I looked in the mirror and saw myself growing as thin as a cancer patient. I had to return to the nasty omelets for nourishment, and more importantly, for inspiration. Without omelets, I might waste away and creatively die.

One morning, I was sitting on the beach banging on a ketchup bottle when I noticed the man next to me staring. He said, “All that ketchup you’re going to pour on that repulsive omelet is full of corn. Read the bottle. The second ingredient is high fructose corn syrup. You’re going to get fat and die from eating too much corn.”

I broke down almost into tears, “The omelets are disgusting. I can’t go on like this.”

He said, “With my good looks, young Khmer bride, and imitation brand clothes, you would guess that I’m a healthy 50 year old. I’m actually 55 and a recovering chemo patient. You know how I ended up NOT being a hairless, dead Karen Carpenter? Marijuana! It gave me the appetite I needed to beat cancer!”

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The omelets at Same Same But Different are the same as everywhere else around Serendipity Beach, but the difference is the happy shakes on the menu. That nice man bought me my first happy shake. After three hours, I got these weird cravings that cancer patients call the munchies. Not only did the omelets taste good, I giggled at the smiley face that I made on the sand with ketchup.

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Same Same but Different Restaurant & Bar
Serendipity Beach
Sihanoukville, Cambodia

The Khmer Gourmet located in Sihanoukville, CambodiaThe

More American than Apple Pie

The Khmer Gourmet
Weather Station Hill
Sihanoukville, Cambodia

The omelets at The Khmer Gourmet are fluffy and spiced with black pepper. The coffee has nothing to do with Nestle; the dark brew comes from beans grown by local farmers.

Khmer Gourmet omelet

I watch the American owner who’s in his late 20’s go about his morning. He flips pancakes, smiles at his Khmer sweetheart, says goodbye to his French customers, and glows when talking about honeymoon plans.

I experience a sense of optimism. I realize he is living the usually unattainable American dream, the elusive dream that I read about in grade school history books, that pro athletes talked about in high school, and that I prepared for during my uneducated first year of college. This is the American dream that has nothing to do with suburbia, health insurance, and a 401K plan. The last time I experienced this sort of adulation for America was when I heard Arturo’s story. My old boss crossed the border twice. Once along the coast and another time through the desert. He met the beautiful daughter of a Thai woman and Vietnam vet. After she graduated from college, they married and created a family. They then put their money together and opened a restaurant. Luckily, cupid instead of an Arizona militiaman shot Arturo.

These thoughts of the American dream die along with Saddam’s last breath. There he is on the front page of the paper. The fastest way to ruin a decent omelet is to read about U.S. foreign policy. I wish my country wasn’t the largest arms exporter with a large population of citizens who pledge allegiance to admitted liars. I wish it had a government that can be held accountable for crimes against humanity.

With the Cambodians and Europeans that I meet at The Khmer Gourmet, I would rather discuss huckleberries, the Sawtooth Mountains, and Senator Frank Church. I would rather tell them about Arturo from Moscow, Idaho than try to explain my government’s actions in the headlines of the Bangkok Post.

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I’d like to write a poem
while I’m on holiday in Cambodia.
There’s a rule to repetition.
I learned it a while ago.

While I’m on holiday in Cambodia,
with monkeys, goats and elephants.
I learned it a while ago,
and Brandon—he says he knows it.

With monkeys, goats, elephants,
prostitution, peace, and tourism.
Brandon—he says he knows it.
He’s eatin’ omelets and talkin’ politics,

prostitution, peace, and tourism—in Cambodia.
New year’s bombs in Bangkok.
eatin’ omelets and talkin’ politics—
democracy, by the way, is failing in Iraq

New year’s bombs in Bangkok,
read it in the Bangkok Post, saw it on CNN.
democracy is failing in Iraq and the USA,
and the talk is all about—Saddam Hussein.

read it in the Bangkok Post, saw it on CNN.
Bush is holding out for victory, but—How does he define it?
the talk is all about Saddam Hussein,
with the Khmer Rouge long forgotten

I define victory as peace
while sipping Anchor beer and sitting on the beach.
The Khmer Rouge, long forgotten by many, but
Cambodia remembers—leaders yet to be tried for their crimes.

While sipping Anchor beer and sitting on the beach,
I wonder if my children will be tourists in Iraq.
We ride a moto through the countryside,
Celebrate the new year with sparklers and fireworks.

I wonder if my children will be tourists in Iraq.
We ride a moto through the countryside
the kids all wave and yell—Hello!
there’s a rule to repetition that I broke a while ago.

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Besides fluffy omelets, Khmer Gourmet serves the best desserts on the Hill.

Something all Americans should know about: “America…From Freedom to Fascism,” a documentary by Aaron Russo. Determined to find the law that requires Americans to pay income tax, Aaron Russo sets out on a journey. Neither left- nor right-wing, this startling examination exposes the systematic erosion of civil liberties in America. Through interviews with US Congressmen, a former IRS Commissioner, former IRS and FBI agents, tax attorneys and authors, Russo connects the dots between money creation, federal income tax, voter fraud, the national identity card (becoming law in May 2008) and the implementation of radio frequency identification (RFID) technology to track citizens. A striking case about the evolving police state in America.

Honda Dream

For Westerners who are unsure if they recklessly want to invest time and money in motorcycle safety classes and the purchase of a motorcycle, Cambodia is the perfect place to test your motorcycle wandering spirit.

Our tour began in Sihanoukville and took us on a 281 kilometer round trip journey over scenic mountain passes, through coastal villages, and along winding jungle roads to the corner of southeast Cambodia near the Vietnam border. This fun, overnight experience only cost $23.

The Rental
To rent a motorcycle, all you need is a passport, four dollars and some previous bicycle-riding experience. I handed over my national identity and signed a form accepting responsibility for any potential theft, injury, or damage, and I was given the keys to the Honda Dream. The Dream has four speeds, a 125 cc engine, a front basket for luggage, and comfortably sits two.

The Law
No need to be worried, paranoid, or fearful of cops who nap in hammocks.

Driving Guidelines & Advice
My best advice for people familiar to Western driving standards is to start your trip by erasing all preconceived notions and habits. Cambodian roads are not for people who fiddle with their cell phones, adjust the air conditioning vents, shuffle through CDs, and need to apply make-up at stoplights.

In Cambodia, common sense, defensive driving, and a healthy sense of adventure will safely guide you to your destination.

Speed limits do not have any relevance. What might be a dot in your mirror can instantly turn into a car just four feet off your back tire.

No stoplights or stop signs. Choose a path carefully, and stick to it. Everyone else will hopefully go around you.

Motorists generally drive on the right, the same as in the United States. When there is a dotted or solid line separating the lanes, disregard it just as everyone else does.

It is advisable to drive hugging the shoulder of the road. Large buses and semi trucks do not slow down, but they do warn with manic honking to get out of the way. When there is oncoming traffic, they will pass vehicles in their own lanes. At first, the honking might scare you like gunshots from hunters firing rounds at deer across a valley. Recognize the sound as a friendly hello, and as soon as you hear the first honk, move quickly to the edge of the road.

Even though I recommend driving on the shoulder, there are exceptions. Drivers will not stop or even look to see what vehicles are already on the road. Always be aware of side roads and driveways that intersect the road on which you are traveling. Traffic will pull out right in front of you, so be ready to slam on your brakes.

Animals
In most industrialized countries, motorists only need to be concerned with scared cats, lost dogs, or suicidal squirrels. A worst-case scenario is you squash someone’s pet and leave a note of apology. In Cambodia, the roads are a long, winding, petting zoo. A motorist must be prepared to swerve, slow to a crawl, or completely stop for goats, pigs, cows, water buffalo, and elephants.

Road Conditions
The roads are as unpredictable as the animals. Be prepared for leisurely paved roads, a scattering of large potholes on hard-packed dirt roads, and the front tire wandering along loose sand and gravel roads.

Motorcycle Maintenance
Cambodia has plenty of gas stations, and the most you’ll pay for a liter of gas is $1. Some gas stations offer the standard pumps and flushing toilets. Other gas stations offer a soda bottle full of gas and a tree for a bathroom.

The motorcycle rental did not include the protective AAA guardian angel, but we found the Cambodian people in the countryside very helpful in providing mechanical services. At one point in our journey, the Honda Dream started to wobble violently. Amy and I pulled over to find the back tire completely flat. I pushed the motorcycle over to a group of people standing by the roadside. None of them understood English, and I do not speak Khmer. With some pointing at the back tire, soon enough heads started to nod in understanding, and they motioned for me to walk down the road. I once again started to push the bike, but this time a little boy came to help. He and I pushed the bike for about five minutes until he motioned toward the front yard of a house. The front yard doubled as a tire shop, and the flat was repaired within 30 minutes. A new tube and labor cost $3.

Tourist Attractions

Seaside Guesthouse
Shortly after dusk, we arrived at the coastal community of Kep. We found clean, spacious rooms with a bathroom for $4 a night at the Seaside Guesthouse. When looking for a guesthouse, one thing to keep in mind is that motorcycle theft is common in Cambodia. The motorcycle came with a lock and chain, but we appreciated the additional security of enclosed parking for motorcycles provided at the Seaside Guesthouse.

The next day, we chose two tourist attractions that would give us plenty of time to visit and also get back to Sihanoukville before dark.

The Pepper Farm

The Cave

Upon returning the motorcycle, we paid the $4 rental fee and I retrieved my passport from an envelope containing an assortment of passports. It feels good to know that there are plenty of fellow travelers who will gladly give up their national identities for an adventure.

Having survived our motorcycle journey, my imagination feels caged with the thought of taking photos and watching kids’ smiles through a bus window. My mind already feels numbed by the dull excitement provided by the movies shown on long bus trips. Cambodia seen through a bus window is like fast forwarding through a movie to the love scenes or the climatic ending. The journey definitely is as important as the destination.
Motorcycle rental $4.00
Gas $3.00
Guesthouse $4.00
Food $8.00
Repair flat tire $3.00
Souvenir pepper $1.00

Our overnight scooter adventure for two people cost $23.00

Special thanks to our scooter models Mike and Serena
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Sihanoukville to Kampot 105 km
Kampot to Kep 24 km
Kep to Cave 33.5 km
Cave to Kampot 13.5 km
Kampot to Sihanoukville 105 km

total distance 281 km

 

Brandon and Amy

Check out the reprinting of Honda Dream at Go Nomad

Also an interesting critique of Honda Dream at Crossing Cambodia