A day at the beach


So you and your girlfriend decide you would like to go for a swim. You go to your hotel room and get everything you need –towels and water and such—and change into your swimming clothes. You had a waterproof pouch that you bought before to keep your passports and money in while you swim so you know they’ll be safe while you’re in the water.

You arrive at the beach and it is paradise. There are headlands in the distance either side of you covered in palm trees, and the sand is so soft you want to bury your face in it. The sky is clear and blue but the water is even bluer. You dip in a toe to find that the water is the same temperature as the air, beautiful and warm, with a hint of sun-derived toastiness.

You lay your things down on a nearby sunbed , with no other sunbeds occupied nearby so you have lots of privacy. You get undressed,  and run straight into the water. It’s filled with beautiful little jellyfish-like creatures that you’ve never seen before. You swim around and it is perfect for just a moment.

Just then, you realize that the pouch around your shoulder with the passports and money has burst and everything is getting soaked.

You run back to shore trying to get the water out of the pouch and sit down on your sunbed. As you sit there a barman comes over and tells you that the sunbeds are for customers only and you need to order something, but as you are preoccupied you decline and continue to try drying out all of your money and passports. The barman stands and watches as a beggar comes over and spots your wet cash lying in the open.

The beggar holds out his hat and despite your disregards he just stands and stares. A woman comes walking down the beach selling boiled lobsters and offers them to you, but, seeing as you have some rather pressing matters, you decline, so she stands and watches you dry your $315 and passports. You are really hoping the ink on the stamp doesn’t run or fade. If it does, you could be stranded in this country for a long time with lots of problems.

Another woman with a gold tooth strolls up the beach and asks you if you want to buy some brown bracelets. You are trying to guard your belongings (because you’re new here and don’t know if you can trust anyone or if there is much crime) while trying to dry out your passports with a towel. You tell the woman with the gold tooth that you don’t need a bracelet right now and ask her to go away as you are obviously busy.

She takes a small step back and laughs with the beggar and the lobster lady at your misfortune. Another man comes along and sits on the sun bed next to yours. He says he is a shoe salesman and wants to “try out” your girlfriend’s shoes. She declines to which the man replies “Why?” Upon deciding to not justify why a man shouldn’t need to try out a pair of women’s sandals size 8, you try your best to work quickly as water is still running from your passport.

The barman has returned and told you that if you don’t order some food or a drink right now he is calling the police, which in this country means being “fined” up to a few hundred dollars mostly to subsidize the policeman’s bad wages. We tell the barman we will be leaving soon to which his reply is “fine, I’ll call the police.”

You grab your belongings, shove them all together, wet and dry, into your bag and storm through the half a dozen beggars and hawkers away from there as quickly as possible before the police arrive.

We are not impressed with Cambodia so far.

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Riding the Transsiberian Railway

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