Sunday, February 7, 2010

Superbowl - Please Pass the Squid

Superbowl XXXVIII - while it was played on February 1, 2004, in our part of the world it was already the morning of February 2.  We were in Sihoukville, Cambodia for some rest and relaxation after days of  traveling through Cambodia.  So I didn't think there was much chance of seeing Superbowl but first thing in the morning there we sat in a little beachside hotel watching the game on a tiny television screen that I'm pretty sure was built prior to the advent of big screen TV.  And for once the size of the screen didn't matter, the game was on!  It's the only Superbowl game that I watched only the main half-time event, the remainder of half-time  was spent in an open-air restaurant where breakfast consisted of  pancakes accompanied by rice and pineapple.  I passed on the eggs - that was also the year of the Avian Flu scare.

But it was after the game where the day really got interesting.  A day on a quiet beach soon found us adopted by a group of enterprising vendors.  First there was the woman who patrolled the beach and seemed to keep order among a multitude of teen vendors.  We soon learned her story.  She left her husband and came south with her kids because he drank and "boxed her".  Her English was learned on the beach and she was making sure her children learned English even though that meant two sessions of school for them everyday.  A girl selling sarongs was our next visitor and she persisted in her quest to have us buy one.  Soon a game of x's and o's was in progress - again at her insistence.  And if she won, well you guessed it - we bought a sarong.  That transaction complete, a woman with a barbecue balancing from a pole across her shoulders, complete with all utensils, stopped by to sell us barbecued squid.  And right behind her was a Vietamese girl with a red floppy hat, fashionable dress and bare feet with a basket full of nail polish and accessories, another character with a story.  She was selling manicures and pedicures and no one was leaving the beach without one.  We went home that night nicely manicured.  But not before we had feasted on fruit, more squid and prawns.  If we wanted a drink there was someone ready and willing to run for it for a small price, cheap by our standards - good pay to them.  We were all happy! 

The vendors, all girls, would disappear from time to time, heading down the beach to sell more goods but would always return, plunking down in the sand beside us with their goods and their stories. And so went the afternoon as the vendors adopted us.  We ate our fill of barbecued seafood, washed down with ice-cold beer and we laughed and listened to their stories.

It was unplanned, unexpected and the most memorable day of our trip.

What's one of your favourite travel memories?


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