Nov 21:  Chau Doc to Phnom Penh

The bathroom in my hotel room had Pikachu cups.  Was this an omen?  Good or bad?

We left Chau Doc on a speedboat up the Bassac River toward Phnom Penh.

View from boat.  The following four uncaptioned photos are of structures along the river:

Border crossing from Vietnam to Cambodia.  We had to get off twice in the border zone to go through passport control.

At 12pm we had to stop at some random point because Rachel had a phone interview scheduled.  She went up on the bank and some of the other girls joined her for a pee party.  Her cell phone worked and the interview took place, but she didn't get the job, on account of all the peeing.

I started to doze off at the end of the boat trip.  I opened my eyes and saw a big hotel and some fancy buildings, and figured we'd arrived at Phnom Penh.  We crossed another Intrepid group that was getting on our boat to go in the opposite direction.  I think they also had only 2 guys.  The Riverside Hotel was walking distance from the dock.  In my room I turned on the TV and the first thing I saw was Vader vs. Tajiri, location probably Japan, date unknown.  At least I think it was Tajiri; the picture was fuzzy and that channel had no sound.  There was a Stan Hansen match after that.

Phnom Penh immediately struck me as being nicer than expected (at least the waterfront) and nicer than HCMC.  For a city that was completely vacant from 1975 to 1979, it's in decent shape.  Whereas all of Vietnam had a burning smell (presumably from substances that weren't meant to be burned), Phnom Penh smelled clean.  It was probably because of the breeze from the river because the smell returned after we left PP.

I had curry chicken at a riverfront restaurant.  Kids came up to me while I ate trying to sell books or something.  These kids are like e-mail spammers--their products are garbage, they piss people off and they're usually ignored, but if 1 in 1000 people buys something, it pays off.

Cambodia-Laos-Vietnam Monument.

Front of the Royal Palace.

Whoa!  An elephant!

He was getting hosed off.

Now clean, the elephant goes for a riverfront stroll.  Conspicuously absent was Mr. Snuffleupagus' "sauntering" music.  It's still one of the greatest entrance themes of all time, up there with "Real American" and "Also Sprach Zarathustra" which it preceded by a decade (I mean Flair's use of the latter).  I'd like to see the WWE play Snuffy's music for The Big Show's entrance as a joke.  He'd have that "aw come on guys, that's not funny" look.

Elephant hungry!  Elephant want popped corn NOW!

I think a monk has to be present when an elephant is fed by a street vendor.

On the way home I stopped at an Internet cafe.  There were several monks in there.  The Internet is sort of an Eightfold Path.

My hotel room was on the third floor.  My window looked out into...a hallway?  And the photo above is the nearest staircase, which has been sealed off and cleverly camouflaged by with chairs.  What gruesome atrocities must be concealed down there!

For dinner we went to the Veiyo Tonle Restaurant, affiliated with the New Cambodian Children's Life Association, which takes in orphans (a big problem in Cambodia) and steers them on the right track. 

Unfortunately that track means dancing 18 hours a day for table scraps.  Well, not really.  Sorry for the quality of this photo; it was the best I came up with given the lighting and motion.  Following this some other kids did a coconut dance.  Yes, I was hoping a Piper-Snuka incident would transpire and send some kid staggering back into the wall of alcohol.  The coconut dance could not compare to Chris Elliott's Marlon Brando Banana Dance.  (And there you go.  Bill Simmons refers to the Banana Dance as well in his book.  I don't think I had his reference subconsciously in my head when I made this note.  It's more like when US and Soviet scientists would simultaneously discover the same element.  Geniuses always end up at the same point.)  Oh yeah, for dinner I had fried clams.  There were about 40 of them.  They were "fried" in the shell.  Sorry I don't have more photos and descriptions of the dancing but I was busy picking 40 fucking clams out of their fucking shells.

After dinner we hit the Foreign Correspondents Club for drinks.  I had an Angkor Sunset.  I would have more later in the trip.