I’ve heard that when Anthony Bourdain first saw Angkor Wat, he stopped taking vacation photos. He realized that he couldn’t capture this place on film, and reasoned that there was no point. So he put his camera away and just enjoyed it.

That’s lovely and rather poetic, but let’s be fair: Bourdain has a film crew following him around, so it’s very easy for him not to take photos. If I had a film crew following me everywhere, I wouldn’t take many pictures, either. I’d probably stop picking my nose, too.

Just like fancy-pants Bourdain over there.

Here I am, attempting to look reverent and also NOT PICKING MY NOSE. #winning

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I think the pack on the left cost me about $1.50 in Siem Reap, which is on par with U.S. prices, not accounting for the size difference in the packs. As for the mango flavor, it was exactly that, and kind of enjoyable (though still oddly minty at the end).

I didn’t end up finishing the pack. Some children were begging us for money, and you aren’t supposed to give them any, so Nicci handed them a roll of Oreos she had in her bag. And then they came back, so I gave them the mango TicTacs.

And then they came back again, and I was just about to put my foot down about how we weren’t giving them money and I’d already opened my mouth and said, “OH NO,” when Nicci pointed out that they just needed helping getting the pack open.

“Oh. Right.”

So I opened the pack. And the three of them – the oldest no more than five or six, the youngest a naked infant in her arms, the middle one perfectly in between them in size and appearance, like Russian nesting dolls – ran off with their spoils.

If Nicci hadn’t seen them, I might have missed them altogether. Or just looked over them, and tried to ignore them, the way I do when people ask me for money in the states. Because I’m not sure what else to do.

I couldn’t take them home. And I wasn’t supposed to give them money. So I gave them my TicTacs. An exercise in futility if ever there was one.

 

There are no florescent lights. Or aisles and aisles of junk food. There is no plastic container full of beef jerky, no row of humming soda dispensers, waiting to pour out sugary elixirs.

There are no walls, or ceilings. There aren’t even gas pumps.

Gas stations are different in Cambodia. They usually aren’t much more than a solitary person, standing on the side of a road with repurposed bottles full of yellow fuel. The tuk tuk driver stops next to them, hands over a dollar or two. The contents of the bottle are then poured into the gas tank. (more…)

 

At the entrance to the temple.

We rounded a corner in our tuk tuk, the road here better kept than most of the others we’d been on. It was paved, not, dirt, to accommodate for the heavier flow of traffic – cars and tour buses and tuk tuks and scooters. The air smelled of diesel, the sky overcast, the air humid, sticky, and still. There was no breeze. There was never a breeze.

The road curved, following the edge of a massive lake the color of olives. And there, across the water, it came into view.

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