Saturday, 16 October 2004
I met a couple in Angkor Wat, Ross and Lynsey from the UK. After a short chat, we decided to meet up later on in Siem Reap for a drink. They chose a bar they knew called Banana Leaf. So I decided to walk into town that evening, rather than hop onto the back of a moto, which meant I had to turn down about thirty moto offers along the way. I finally arrived near Banana Leaf, but could not find the bar anywhere. I asked around but no one seemed to know where it was - that is, no one knew without a small fee. I refuse to pay any money for directions, so I walked around looking for the place. After a few minutes, I found a bar which looked a lot like a banana bar: all the walls were painted yellow, banana plants were growing in pots everywhere and the whole place had a good 'banana' feel to it. As I walked in, I asked the waitress if this was the Banana Leaf bar, she smiled at me and said yes, it was. So I sat down on the terrace, ordered a glass of wine and waited for Ross and Lynsey to turn up. After twenty minutes of waiting and half way through my glass of wine, I looked up at the sky to admire the stars, and much to my surprise, there right above me was a sign sticking out of the wall saying 'Angkor Bar': I was in the wrong place.
I could have strangled the waitress, but I didn't. Instead, I kept my calm, downed the wine, paid the bill and ran out in search of the real Banana Leaf. I walked down the road, and tried my luck again with a moto driver. "Excuse me, do you know where Banana Leaf is? -Yes, hop onto the back of my moto, and I'll take you there". I laughed, told him I knew the bar was on this road and there was no need to take a moto there. He smiled back at me and pointed at the bar. It was less than 5 meters away from the bike!
Those Cambodians! 'Gonflés' would be the most appropriate word to describe them. But they are very kind at heart. They know they are ripping you off, and if they sense that you know this, then they give up immediately and treat you as one of their own.
Ross and Lynsey were waiting there for me and had already ordered drinks. We had a brilliant evening after this little incident.