This was a free day. I had no need to see more Angkor temples so I slept in like most people. I got a full 8 hours so I'd be ready for more partying later.
For lunch there was a Thai restaurant in my guide book that was near the hotel, but I couldn't find it. (Wendy later said she ate there but didn't know exactly where it was.) So I found a place near Bar Street, which is actually close enough to the hotel to walk to, if you don't mind getting sweaty. After lunch I cruised by Bar Street and found a few from the group doing the same. I wanted to see if there were any bars open during the day where I could just sit on the patio, read and sip a fruity girl drink. That was my plan, so I walked back to the hotel, showered and headed back out. But Wendy saw me and said the group was leaving for dinner on Bar Street at 7pm, which was a better plan. So I went back in and read for a few hours my the air-conditioned room. It looked like a storm was arriving anyway, although I don't know if it rained at all.
While reading, I started reflecting on the free day with a bit of sadness. Not that I was bored or lonely without the group, but I knew it was a precursor to the end of the tour in a few days. Normally I'm in a foul mood when I return to work after a trip, but this would be worse because I'd been hanging out almost entirely with girls for a week, and three days from now I would no longer be. I wasn't looking forward the the culture shock.
(I included the above paragraph because it has an important significance: This is the point where I started recording feelings in my journal rather than anecdotes and descriptions. The all-girl thing evidently had some unforeseen side effects. Was I becoming a SNAG? I wish I'd brought the other book (some of you know which book) to set myself straight: "If you are this guy, get more guy friends and start eating meat. Go see some strippers." If Tom Leykis was in Cambodia with me he'd play the Meow Mix song tauntingly and tell me to "buck up".)
We took tuk-tuks back to Bar Street for dinner at the Red Piano. The hotel attached to the restaurant is where the Tomb Raider cast and crew stayed. I had the Tomb Raider Cocktail, "initiated by Angelina Jolie" according to the menu. A classy drink from a classy lady! Part of the group then moved to the Soup Dragon where I had a margarita. Then three of us (me, Carmel and Rachel) moved to Angkor What?. (I love using the question mark and period in succession.) We weren't there too long before Rachel stood up, shook my hand, announced "Chris, you have won the Iron Man competition" and took off. OK, actually she didn't shake my hand and just said "I'm gonna leave." (Explanation: In 1993-94 a bunch of us were in a jacuzzi with a girl, and one by one the guys got up and left until it was just me, my friend and the girl. It became obvious that she was more into him, so I finally gave up and made the Iron Man announcement and left them alone. He "macked" with her for 5 hours after that, or so he says. Nothing of the sort occurred at Angkor What?, which I ensured by expressing a desire to poke Carmel in the eyes. Chris Farley: [smacks himself] "GOD! That sounds stupid! God, I'm an idiot! I never know how to start these things!") I talked to an Austrian guy and proudly informed him that I voted for his countryman as my governor. He seemed to have mixed feelings about Arnold. Then an English girl named Rachel showed up, so it was like Original Rachel never left.
You may have seen in yesterday's photos that the walls of Angkor What? are covered with stuff written by visitors (like their names). For the record, in the first bathroom stall, I wrote BABA BOOEY TO Y'ALL. I have informed the Howard Stern Show of this.
After I had 4 Long Islands, we left the bar at 1:50am (as "Bohemian Like You", the day song from Russia, was playing) and took a tuk-tuk back home. A street urchin clung to the side and after a while he got in. Allegedly he lived near our hotel. He beat us repeatedly at thumb-wrestling. I concluded that Cambodian kids are very independent. (Kramer: "You're not doing too bad yourself!") By the time I got in and cleaned up my journal and whatnot it was 2:36am, meaning I'd have less than 4 hours of sleep. Seems like a rough night, but I had a surplus of sleep before that, so I wasn't too concerned. On Contiki tours I had nights like that for 3 weeks straight.