Cambodia

Please give I Brew-U Brew some social lovin'
I don’t have “fuck you money” but I’ve got “fuck you vacation” and if you’ve got fuck you vacation south east Asia feels like what I imagine having fuck you money feels like.

Those of us with fuck you vacation teeter with the idea of going home for a bit in the winter. It’s not that we don’t want to but after the second bout of homesickness fades, it gets easier, much easier, to divert the requests from home. Typically “home” constitutes some overpriced location in the northern hemisphere masquerading as a snow globe destination. What they don’t tell you on the expat wiki is, it’s still brutally cold and grey and your friends are too busy chasing non fuck you money to listen to your “stories”. Life has changed since university hasn’t it but, then again, so have you. Your once mocking tone reserved for kimchi has turned into a full blown case of Stockholm syndrome defending it as the second coming of Confusicious. I mean, it was never in your constitution to advocate for a vegetable let alone an ethnic one at that.  Experience outside the clink has given you a whole new perspective towards your former captor that goes by the moniker, The United States of America. Some “lifers” in Korea have drunk the Kor-Aid too and why not? While you don’t have a Purple Heart to show for it, you’ve done substantial stints without quality beer, cheese and non-truncated English conversation. Even if you were to go back home now, any conversation concerning anything of local or cultural relevance would most certainly leave you so vulnerable intellectually, emotionally (and all the other “lly”s that I can’t think of) that your rock solid go to social mannerisms of pursed lips and focused eyes to feign interest would manifest itself in full blown slack jaw at parties.  If that weren’t enough, at that most perfect moment when the conversational seas part for your insightful response to the situation in Syria, the best you can muster up is “Have any more of that bean dip?”. Embarrassing. It’s the part of the vacation that Lonely Planet fails to prepare you for.  Just how long were you in the bunker for anyways? Doesn’t matter, there will always be a place for you in SE Asia, and as long as you have a visa and a departure ticket, SE Asia will be happy to have you. You did remember to get a visa right?

Replace “you” with “Garrett” and you’d have chapter six of an autobiography but that’s for a different therapy platform altogether.

We visit three different places: Siem Reap, Phnom Penh and Sihanoukville. Each feels like a different country with the people becoming friendlier the further south we traverse. The busses and boats we took were adequate and about the biggest concern I encountered wasn’t a result of my fellow man but out of the suspect street foods I ate alone the journey.  I used to consider myself adventurous food wise, now it borders on recklessness.

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It’s hot here, like broiler function on the oven hot which makes the combination of fuck you vacation and perceived fuck you money a dangerous cocktail. Stuff is incomprehensibly cheap here in Cambodia: two meals and two coffees for four bucks, a sixty minute massage for two fifty, an all day tuk-tuk driver for fifteen bills. Oh yeah, the draft beer? 50 cents. All day, everyday (thus the danger).

Finally a beer that lines up with my political leanings.

Finally a beer that defines me politically.

So this is about the time on my blog I half-heartedly delve into a Asian made canned Pilsner review. The formula makes sense for a beer blog: author goes to a place, gives background information about place/cute story, (insert photo here), does review, finish. Well here it is. Though it feels trite and insensitive to complain about the beer situation here given the genocide that happened in the 70s but this is a beer blog and I have an obligation to report the facts: Cambodian beer isn’t very good. The actual brand called “Cambodia beer” tastes likes seltzer water. Angkor beer (not to be confused with Anchor Beer) rings of a sweetness early that only intensified as the can warms. Anchor beer (not to be confused with Angkor beer) starts with a doughy nose that leads to a light dough flavor profile but fails to set the bitterness hook at the end. And there you have it. This paragraph would typically mark the end of a typically disappointing and lackluster blog post.

Photo credit to allaponomaerva.com

Photo credit to allaponomaerva.com

But …

Unlike fuck you money, I know plenty of people with Fuck you vacation. Also unlike people with fuck you money, people with fuck you vacation don’t stay at home counting how much they’ve accrued. So more often than not, my ex-pat brethren will fly their mangy asses to exotic destinations typically reserved for honey moons with second wives to enjoy the spoils of the third world. For us located in Asia, the world feels increasingly smaller and smaller with every trip we take over the Pacific. For example, I have a friend from Alaska that I met in Korea. I see him a few times a month for ice hockey. I have not once, but twice, accidentally run into him on two different continents. The first time was in the Seattle airport. The other time was at a night market in Thailand. So when I saw a picture of a friend pop up saying he was drinking craft beer in Cambodia, I knew there was a good chance we could cross paths.

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Photo credit to allaponomareva.com

Turns out he was in the same city I was staying in drinking at a buddy’s newly opened bar in Sianhouksvile The bar was slinging craft beer produced in Phnom Penh. The standout beer, of the two beers offered was a 4.6% session pale ale: crisp, and slightly enough Cascade hop flavor and bitterness to be interesting but not to scare off the uninitiated, Cervascia knocked this one out of the park. To make matters even better, 350ml servings were only 3 USD — Perfect for those of us lacking fuck you money.

The faces of fuck you vacation.

The faces of fuck you vacation.

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