And then there were four

After several weeks of traveling exclusively with me, Michael was probably pretty excited to welcome his friends Dan and Christy to our adventures. And adventures we’ve had . . . what an unforgettable few days. We met in Kuala Lumpur, which is the capital of Malaysia. We’ve been pretty impressed with the tourism efforts in this country. We’ve sampled nasi lemak, a Malaysian staple starring little dried fish, gotten a bird’s eye view of KL from the Petronas towers, and re-discovered the beach as we’ve made it now to Malaysian Borneo. In between times, though, we took a side trip over to Cambodia.

View from the 40-somethingth floor of Petronas building, KL

 How could we describe Cambodia? This country has an amazingly rich and heartbreaking history which includes exchanges of power, genocide, landmines – and more tragedy than I could ever begin to fathom. So it’s even more heartbreaking, then, when the little children of this only recently stabilized country are begging in the streets and on the water. When the first landmine victim approached us, selling books without the luxury of having hands, I couldn’t imagine saying no. And the tiny children hawking scarves, jewelry, water, and beer absolutely broke our hearts. On the other hand, Cambodia’s wonder – the temples – were absolutely unfathomable. My initial impression of Cambodia is one part heartbreak and two parts hope.

Brooke and Christy survey the ruins

We spent our first day in Siem Reap discovering what aimless tourism gets you. Our findings? Hot, tired, and temple-weary. Buying a three-day tour pass (I know, what is this – Disney World?) and starting at noon, we made a major rookie mistake. All of us were pooped by 3:00 pm. Temples sans explanations were tough! We bought a book that ended up being not terribly helpful and also a rip-off, as we saw it much cheaper later. Bamboozled again. The next day we wised up and hired a guide, started at sunrise, and had a much more positive learning experience. And did I mention I experienced my first close encounter with wild Cambodian monkeys?

Angkor Wat at dawn

That’s right, amid our beautiful day of appreciating architecture from bygone eras, I rather didn’t appreciate being charged by a primate. This monkey had a serious entitlement issue, and it decided it was entitled to remove my water bottle from my possession. So it did. As we approached our last temple of the afternoon, Michael, Dan, Christy, Ly (our guide) and I strolled, hot and tired to say the least, past a family of monkeys. Our guide said we could feed them if we had any bananas. We did actually have bananas, but I have mixed feelings about feeding wild animals, for two reasons. For one, it’s not always responsible to introduce this habit of relying on humans for food; for two, they’re wild. As in have really sharp teeth and scary claws. (And for three, hey! That’s my food!) Instead we enjoyed them from afar, taking pictures on zoom and keeping a safe distance.

Cute, right?

And it was a safe distance, until one little monkey started running. Michael jumped out of its way, but no worries, love, that monkey isn’t a threat to you. That’s because it’s running straight for me! At first, I thought he would run right past, but this wasn’t to be the case. He was staring intently at me. I thought about those How to Survive Anything books and wondered if this was in there. I’d always made fun of those obscure situationals they provided. Not so obscure now, right Brooke?

I knew that this monkey was unlikely to attack me unprovoked, and it certainly wasn’t smelling the bananas because they were tucked safely in Michael’s bag. Then I noticed its eyes weren’t fixed on me, they were squarely on my water bottle! This monkey just wants something to drink! I thought about a robbery situation, which this essentially was, and remembered you’re supposed to throw your wallet and run the other way. So I parted ways with the bottle and ran toward my somewhat startled friends.

Not actually the robber, but this monkey enjoyed some water too

 Dan almost got all this on video, which would’ve been hysterical. The monkey grabbed the water bottle and untwisted the cap. Who knew those little hands had so much dexterity? I’ve not been giving them enough credit. Then it sat down, held the bottle with its hands, and tipped it up with its feet. Glug, glug, goodbye, sweet hydration! It wasn’t able to drink more than just a little, as it struggled to hold the big bottle. I’d say more water ended up on the ground than in the monkey mouths, but it was quite hilarious to see the little guy drag the bottle off when the attack monkey finished. 

And thankfully, we all survived unscathed

This would be just the beginning of a wild and weird Cambodian adventure. Next up: more on the temples, a floating village, and kiss a Birkenstock goodbye.  Dan and Christy, welcome to Southeast Asia!

A well-deserved Angkor beer!

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One Response to And then there were four

  1. Chris Baker says:

    Hi dotter and future sil! Looks like you guys are having a great time. I love all your postings and I especially liked the one of the oncoming storm and the peril you felt. It is good to be able to enjoy such experiences with little if any long term ill effects and you will have wonderful memories of your trip. I so much enjoying your trip/vacation to S.E. Asia. Cambodia at the time I was your age was indeed killing field and not at all what you are esperiencing,. Glad it is a much better place to be today.
    I will keep reading your posts and looking forward to more adventures and your safe return.

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