My very first impression of
Okay, I've been in
After that, I tried to buy some toiletries. The little stall next to my Guesthouse has a fair supply of usual products in strangely sized containers. I got a Thai version of Pantene shampoo in a miniature size, and a large bottle of Japanese soap that promises to whiten skin. Selecting my items was easy enough, but figuring out how much they cost was anything but. Keep in mind that Cambodians use two currencies, the Riel for small amounts and the US dollar for larger purchases. At first, I thought she said 3000 riel, which is not even one dollar. Then she clarified 8500 Riel (two dollars), so I shuffled the dirty bills out. No, she said, that's for the soap, 3500 more for shampoo. It sounds pretty easy when I write it out, but I gave up and handed her a $10, hoping for honest change. I think I spent less than $5. In many countries, however, the art of bargaining is the only way to protect yourself from being overcharged (by the way, I have no problem paying the price they ask for—but most foreigners insist that we must bargain—that's another blog entirely). At this point, I'm having enough trouble figuring out what language anyone is speaking, and if it isn't English (or even if it is) I'm pretty much useless.
Getting a cell phone was a very efficient fiasco. The moto ride to the Russian market was incredible—colors, smells, traffic everywhere. My moto driver didn't want to speak any English, but he got me to the right place and helped me wheel-n-deal at the cell phone stand. Okay, wheel-n-deal is not exactly what happened. I pointed to a phone that looked functional, but not attractive enough to be coveted. Eighty bucks. Since I really knew neither how much I should expect to pay (though I heard rumors between $70-$125), nor if it was appropriate to bargain in this situation, I figured it was a solid investment. They copied my passport, talked amongst themselves, and soon I was the proud owner of a used Nokia.
I'm non-confrontational anyway, let alone when I don't speak the language or understand the culture. Another day, I'll blog about how haggling irks me. For now, I'll listen contently to the wonderful water feature in my room and try to learn my Khmer numbers.
So, this water feature...my very foreign bathroom has a toilet that runs non-stop. With great dismay, last night, after 36 hours of travel, I tried to finagle the darn thing to stop wasting water and to stop making noises that would certainly cause incontinence. I managed to do three things: 1. spray toilet tank water all over the bathroom, 2. get that water on my face, and 3. not fix the problem. The staff seemed to disregard my request for repair, so I guess my room is equipped with a water feature—one of those sound-therapy deals. Actually, if a running toilet is the worst thing in my room, I think I'm doing pretty well.