Bopping with Niall JP O'Leary

Niall O'Leary insists on sharing his hare-brained notions and hysterical emotions. Personal obsessions with cinema, literature, food and alcohol feature regularly.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Watch out! Rolex about!

We were up early again the next day for more temples. Yes, more, there are that many, and each one worth a visit. I should say in Angkor Wat itself we scaled a very steep stairway to get to the highest temple. Hand over hand I kept looking at the steps as I crawled up, but once I got to the top and stared at what I'd climbed, I shook a little. Getting down was helped by a handrail, but it was still scary, and in case you think I jest, one tour guide had died running down those steps (he was showing off his karate skills). That had been a while before our visit, of course.
We left our delightful guide at lunchtime. She was 23 and bubbly, but there was a suspicion by some members of our group that she wasn't giving us the full story. For instance, our guide in Phnom Pehn had told us about the education system and how students would have to pay their teacher in order to attend school (an obligatory bribe required because public service jobs pay so lowly). Alannt didn't know what we were talking about when we raised this, though she did admit there was a payment for chalk.
The battery in my watch had died, and, as it is a good piece of work, I decided to leave it until I got home before having the battery replaced. Instead I went into the market and sought out a cheap fake Rolex. I soon found one and bargained badly until I got it for 15 dollars or so. I walked away, took it from the wrapper and try it on. Suddenly the pin in the clasp flew off. I stared around the ground of the market searching for it. Suddenly a little old man tapped me on the shoulder and pointed behind me. There it was. I took it up and tried to replace it. It zipped off again. This time, I looked behind me and found it quickly. I contemplated. This is what you get for getting a fake watch. I deserved this. Still I payed for a working watch. Summoning up my righteous anger I went back to the stall.
They were not overly surprised to see me. Taking it from me they confidently strove to show me my mistake. The pin flew off. Getting it back, they tried again. Zip! This time they couldn't get it back and resigned to fixing it up they got out the screwdrivers and a new pin and worked at it until it stuck. And it did. It is on my wrist as I write.
Next I went to have some photographs burnt. I found a Kodak place and handed in my card. Instead of sending me away to come back later, they sat me down. Unfortunate as my camera takes hours to download. The guy doing it soon discovered this for himself and started working on another, Photoshop-based job, while the files were copied. I recognised what he was trying to do, and before I knew where I was we were swapping ideas on how to achieve something. It was fun, but just a little bit like work.
I had arranged to meet Anabel so that we could share a tuktuk home. While I waited at the ordained place, I was accosted by the usual little urchin. "Where are you from?" "Ireland," I replied. "Conas a ta tu?" he countered. "What?" He was speaking Irish to me and before I knew where I was he was quoting the most up-to-date statistics on Ireland to me. Quite apart from this 8 year-old having perfect English, he had some Irish and geographical knowledge as his disposal too. Impressive. Of course, this is not unusual, and I had heard of kids speaking Irish well before this; it was just strange to encounter it.
In the evening we went to such traditional dancing while we ate. Having never learnt my lesson, I again chose some crab for my meal. Naturally, there was no cracker, but they had smashed it enough to make it edible, though messy. Am I not always messy? Anyhow the dancing went on while we ate. Dainty little women in traditional costume played coquettes to the strapping lads. It was only later we realised how dainty they were, when, stripped of their makeup and in workaday clothes, they trooped past us. They were kids! Certainly not out of their teens. Great dancers.
More drink, a brief goodbye to Tamsin and Phoebe and home. Our trip was nearing its end. The next day we were to drive to Bangkok.


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