Living in the ceiling, no more room downstairs...(with apologies to Blancmange)
Clearly I have a memory like a sieve, or else I would have rememberd Soraya telling me to stay at the Siem Reap Hostel when I arrived here. But things being what they are - the usual thickness of my head combined with the cold thickness I was now encumbered by, and add a 7 plus hour cramped boat ride that seriously played jip with my right hip (oh, I am getting old....) and the consequences were as follows.
The boat journey was quite splendid, despite the occassional aches and pains from not being able to move position for hours on end. This was from Battambang to Siem Reap and included myself, an older French lady who was taking a little vacation whilst visiting her daughter in PP, a young French couple doing the usual round the world for a year schtick, and then all the locals getting on and getting off along route with all their goods and chattels. We chugged through numerous floating villages and heaps of villages along the riverside with the usual waving kids romping merrily in the water, the horizon punctuated by the occassional modern temple. All was going quite grandly, for there were warnings that during the dry season, things could get a little hairy, what with water levels being low. One was prearmed with the information that breakdowns could be quite common. And sure enough the noise of boat bits scraping the riverbed did occassionally make one hold ones breath for just slightly longer than usual. But all went swimmingly, and suddenly we were soaring through an area filled with bird sanctuaries and making our way across Tonle Sap Lake towards our final destination. Of course once we were in the middle and couldnt see land, that is when it happened! Of course! I looked at my co travellers as the engine conked out and peaceful silence surrounded us and asked them: "Did u read the part in the Lonely Planet about the breakdowns......?"And we laughed! And after some serious consultation and a bit of concerted action, we were on our way again.
Once at port, I was whisked away by a young moto driver very keen to ply his trade and become my tour guide to Angkor Wat and the surrounding temples over the next three days. And I would have taken him, because I think 35 bucks for three days was quite a reasonable price, compared with some of the other quotes out and about (Dont u just love it when some loudmouthed tourist starts chatting to someone in a very public - and before them, quite serene - place about how they only paid 30 bucks for a tuk tuk driver for the day in PP and then says: That's good dont u think? Well buddy if u were talking to me, I'd tell you, no you were taken for a ride. However if u were happy to pay that, then what the hell is this discussion - which we are all having to share - about??Sheesh!) But what was to ensue, ensured that this didnt happen...
Not remembering, as I said, about SR Hostel (you wouldnt think that hard to remember would you???? Apologies again Soraya...) I thought I would take the well travelled option of just going to which ever place this guy wanted to drop me at (whichever bunch of cronies he was in league with...) and if not to my liking, then I would search around myself. The first place was not close enough to the town centre for my liking. The second place seemed pretty nice, altho not as nice as the first it was closer to the town centre, being just on the other side of the river. Well, "seemed"pretty nice.
I checked in, had a shower and was about to head out so I could have something to eat when I noticed that there was no TV in my room. Not that I have to have a TV everywhere I go, in fact where I am staying now I do not have one. However, I did wonder at the price quoted, so went out the parlez with the little punk who I discovered had one hell of an attitude. And this is where I find myself at variance with Lonely Planet's take on the whole "saving face"issue. That is, not to get angry, agitated, hostile etc at the locals and not to allow things to escalate because it is important for the locals to be able to save face. In essence I get what they are saying, but when it comes to young punks who are quintessentially more Western than Khmer - in their adoption ofall accoutrements of Western lifestyle - then I say to hell with saving face!
This little p****wouldnt even give me a discount on the room because the TV was broken and had been taken for repair. I couldnt make him understand that it was not fair to charge the same price for a room with and a room without a TV. Then he turned it on me and said that I hadnt said anything about there not being a TV in the room. Yes, you moron, because I had just travelled eight hours, was a little unwell and didnt notice. You also didnt point it out you f***er! Ah, he says, but some people dont care about or want a TV. That fine I said, but you cant charge the same price. Oh, yes he could and yes he was going to.
So I voted with my feet. Opened up the Lonely Planet and checked out the options in the centre of the action and wandered over the bridge into town to check out Shadow of Angkor, where I now more than happily reside. This guesthouse has a great feeling to it (and an awesome restaurant attached) and just oozes charm. Which is certainly not what you would say about my room! However that is not neccessarily a bad thing. When I arrived they said all they had was a ten dollar room, with air con/fan, own bathroom - but not TV. I said that was fine and would change rooms the next day (and yet , here I am after 4 nights here and I am still in the same room....) Well....
Do you ever see that lone traveller when you are at a guesthouse/hotel who you happen to see coming out of the depths of the building and you think: "Where the hell is that guy staying?"Well, happy to say, that guy is me. The room I was escorted to view is actually in the ceiling, just past where they keep the laundry to dry and is accessed not with a room key but with a key for a padlock which keeps everything held nicely together. The view from my bed is of an angled roof and everything is dark wood. And I have never been happier than I am in my little room with no TV. Features include: most comfortable bed and pillows ever! And thats about it. Dont think I have slept so peacefully in years. The bathroom is all a bit of a tight fit, but everything is in working order. And the aircon keeps things at a perfect temperature overnight. And I think it is nice not to have the distraction of TV for a little while. Maybe, not being over stimulated before sleep is helping me to be so restive. i dont know, cant quite explain it, but I am very happy to be living in the ceiling and I dont want a room downstairs, thank you very much!