Things You Learn After One Week in Cambodia

After a week on my own in Siem Reap, I’ve made a fool of myself, made mistakes, and learned a few things from it. Here what I’ve learned so far:

  1. You can only do so much in one day before you just need to sit in your air-conditioned room and do nothing. With daily temps of 95+, sometimes you just need to chill. 
  2. Don’t mix high-octane Cambodian coffee with sugarcane juice. Pace yourself. Or you will wind up jittery and freaking out in a fancy bank, unable to sit still while you wait for your number to get called. Trust me, locals do not want to sit next to you when you’re in that state. 
  3. Don’t park your bike on a hill when your hat flies off into the middle of the road and you stop to get it. You will look like even more of an idiot when your bike falls over in as you’re running into the road to save a $2 hat.
  4. Regardless of how stupid you look running after a hat in the middle of a busy roundabout when your bike falls over in front of a group of guys, there will always be  one nice guy to pick it up for you and wait for you to come back.
  5. The $1.50 dinners at roadside stalls are ALWAYS better than the $12 dinners at fancy restaurants. 
  6. When you’re missing the cat you left at home, a sweet kitty will show up in your open-air kitchen and want you to pet its belly. So pet it.
  7. When you’re spending $40 on fabric in the local market, the girl selling it to you will see how much you’re sweating and will motion for you to sit on a plastic stool and turn on a fan just for you. 
  8. When you tell the girl selling you $40 worth of fabric that you don’t have enough money and need to go to an ATM, she will think nothing of it and wait for you to return. Cambodians are trusting.
  9. Mosquito nets are amazing!!!
  10. When an American you met on a bus in Vietnam comes to Siem Reap and says his tuk-tuk driver invited you and him to a wedding: go. No matter how sketchy it is that the driver has to stop at his house to change his shirt. Or that he doesn’t know the bride’s name. The tuk-tuk driver really does want you to go to his friend’s wedding! Bring $10-20 as a gift to the newlyweds.
  11. Cambodians love to “cheers” at weddings. Take this opportunity to start the cheers as often and at as many tables as possible.
  12. When a very drunk 20-something asks you to dance at a Cambodian wedding, say yes! I will forever have this song stuck in my head because of it.
  13. There are no street signs in Siem Reap. Everyone uses landmarks instead. “Go down the street where the ANZ bank is and turn right” is a perfectly good set of directions. 
  14. Do not trust maps! And never assume that something is where you think it will be, because it won’t be.
  15. There’s never a tuk-tuk around when you really need one, and when you don’t need one all you can hear is “Tuk-tuk Lady?”
  16. Sometimes you just need to rent a hotel a half mile from where you’re staying so you can get away from roommates and sit by the pool all weekend:

Bonus picture: here I am at the wedding–


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