The best way to get poisoned in in Cambodia, here´s my manual therefor.
On the first day in Phnom Phen my beloved flip flops conked out. Just like that without forewarning. I was breaking them in over many years and than this! Yes okay... maybe not completely without forewarning, they where looking kinda pathetic meanwhile. Added to this it´s really not that easy to finde something in the capital of Cambodia wich is not made of plastic. After a long time of searching I luckily found a new pair of flip flops in a mall where the following story took its beginning:
I´m about to go down the escalator suddenly an older woman starts to ask me something about my tattoo. The conversations turns more and more into "my niece wants to study in Großhadern, do you have any tips how to do it the best way in Germany?". "No! No way! Don´t trust her"" comes to my mind at first, then my thoughts are turning into "come on Michael, don´t be that shy and connect with the locals you idiot."
10 minutes later I find myself on a scooter rushing through Phnom Phen. Behind me the woman from the beginning and in front of me her sister. The two women are really funny and chatty and both of them are speaking in remarkable good english - especially for Cambodian conditions.
Arrived at the destination I find myself standing in front of a really fancy and new house with a brand new Toyota Prius in front of the door. They may now how to make money in Cambodia. Respect. Inside the fancy hut the aircon has cooled down the temperature to 10 degrees, well it feels like 10 degrees compared to the temperatures outside. Leather sofa, flatscreens... not the typical cambodian home decoration I guess.
An old man is already waiting for my in the living room. He immediately starts to talk in - again - remarkable good english. He´s working on a big cruiser in Bangkok as a card dealer he says. He´s asking me several things about me and Germany. Random questions. But he always comes back to tell something about his job. After one hour it´s just about card games. I have to say: for me card gaming is so unbearable boring. So I get bored to death by this old guy and I´m so bloody thirsty. Because I´m German he offers me beer. I decline because alcohol is not what I want right now. The only alternative drink is a beer-coke mixture. However it´s not that bad just the can smells a bit like cleaning agent.
They also offer me ham and limp toast. I decline again. The old man doesn´t give up an starts again with that stupid card games, he wants to teach me Black-Jack. I give up on resisting and we are going into the sleeping room where already a small table with jetons awaits us. Ok, at this moment I´m aware that the old people want to have some money from me. But how the heck will they do it? I´m curious how they will manage this. The old annoying card gamer explains all the the rules of Black-Jack to me. I´m trying to stay awake. He keeps on asking me if I´m understanding everything. God dammit, it´s so boring! The door opens after one hour and the old lady from the mall asks how long it´ll take yet. "Not very long anymore" he says "tank God!" I think and the woman takes a seat right next to me. We are finished now with the rules and he has also showed me how to cheat together with the card dealer.
If I would ever have 20.000 dollars I have to call him - he says. So we can meat on this cruiser and get a buy in into a VIP Game. There are no cameras which could reveal our cheating strategy. Yeah! Of course! This is the first thing wich would come into my mind if I ever have that much money. Why not? He also mentioned that there are only Chinese people on the boat which are far too rich, far too dumb and very bad card game player as well. Fair enough. The door opens again.
This time with a approximately 40 years old Chinese guy coming in. He´s wearing a suit holding a suitcase in his hand like a real business man and - of course - he wants to play Black-Jack with me. Lucky me! What a crazy coincidence that I just have learned how to play AND to chat like a pro! The old card dealer winks at me. "Let´s rip him off!" he whispers at me. How lucky can someone be? Now I just have to take the money, could it be easier?
"Are you fucking kidding me?!?!" I lough out loud. Ok it´s enough now. That´s so dull stupid that I feel ashamed for everybody in the room. "No, no! Let´s take the money from him! Just one game!". The old crook doesn´t give up. I stand up and declare that I´m going home right now! Everybody in the room takes one step back "ok, you are allowed to go". Allowed? How do they mean this? Do I have to ask for permission to leave the house? What´s going on with that weird bunch of old people? And why do they act like I´m armed?
Let´s skip back some minutes: when they offered me beer they also asked me if I don´t drink alcohol in general. Right next they asked me if I´m smoking. I denied. The following question was if I´m doing some sports. "Yes, just a bit". "What kind of sports?". "Just gym and a bit martial arts"."Ahhh...martial arts...what exactly?"."Just a bit Thai boxing". Silence in the whole room. Everybody was looking at each other just for a part of a second and the conversation went ahead.
Back to the present in the sleeping room: I´m about to leave the room, everybody goes out of my way. In the living room suddenly a junger, small (even smaller than me) but strong looking Cambodian appears.
The old lady from the beginning says that this guy will drive me home now. I get on his scooter at the front of the house and the ride begins. There is a distinctive skyscraper at the skyline of Phnom Phen (you can see it at the fist picture) which is north from my current location. I have to go exactly into this direction to get back to my hostel. But my driver hits eastwards. After some minutes I check my navigation system on my mobile. He keeps driving into the wrong direction. What´s going on again? I ask myself. I´m getting tired of that annoying guy and jump of the scooter. "I´ll get something to eat, you don´t have to drive me home" I say. He asks me several times if I´m really sure about that. "Yes I am!". He disappears. On the way to my hostel I send my girlfriend a voice message what happened to me in the last hours. Arrived at my room I feel a bit strange. After 30 minutes my stomach starts to burn like hell, the chemical, metallic smell of the can the old card dealer gave me is everywhere suddenly. I manage to drag myself into the bathroom where I spend the next hours vomiting. (I can´t remember clearly that part of the story). I get myself some acid blocking pills and feel a bit better so I can manage to sleep. At the next morning I receive a message from my girl, she googled the story and she found several warnings about this kind of scam. Well, lucky me. :)
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