actually, i' m having a blast writing all this down. when one first arrives in a 'new life' everything is well, new. then after a few years things seem, hmm normal- 'yet, define normal' as chicago joe always says...
for example, we are all sitting at the beer hoi. ( a beer hoi, from the vietnamees, means a beer tap, or a beer drinking 'emporium', where one can also eat. its a meesy convival pace,to go to the bathroom one has to walk through the kitchen,
emptied glasses and dishes are left or better say stacked on the table during the drinking session, at the end they are counted and paid for.
so we are having a good old fashioed rainy season boozer, it is good drinking weather as we call it. max says 'look that truck there has no breaks' pointing out a containertruck lurching bye. Yep, we all aggree, that truck has no breaks.. and take another beer. somebody remarks, just immagine how they would go crazy over that in the west...' yeah, wouldn 't they...
across the street fom the beer hoi is the psah loi, or the market, loi means money in khmer, and yes, the money changers are in front , glass cases with stacks of money in them, dollars, riel and thai baht. everybody changes their money in the market, it is legal bussiness and they have the best rates. Inside the market is one big unhygienic slippery mudhole, and we love it dearly.
it gets very crowded in the far from broad isles, that get even more clogged by the peolpe from the countryside who bring some fruit, or roots to sell, beggars , the odd shamanic amulet seller, and sometimes poachers with turtles, small monkeys, ginati lizzards and the odd eagle or snake for sale. (now this is illegal, but yet..),
just about everything is for sale, clothes that you donated to oxfam, shoes, new clothes, household equipment( though non elctric), fruit vegetables, meat (don't ask), and then there is the fish market...
now here smelly, crowded and slippery get a totally new meaning. . i once slipped on some sqid ink, that was pretty bad. fish is not cheap, and one has to watch verry carefully when buying, the occasional fight breaks out, and it can get pretty violent, even shootings have not been unknown..
(my god, the fish is as old as sihanouk!, is a common expat complaint). when you need fish and the chef of a chinese restaurant is in front of you, you' re in trouble, he will buy everything, litterally, before you even get a shot at it. the best thing is then to make a detour through the dried fish section (pheeuw!) and meet him head on.
there are no fixed prices, and occasionally one finds one self, bargaining upwards !
Yes, we love our market, but we are quite happy when we finally get to the flower stand and buy lotusfowers for buddha, they get wrapped in a big leaf, knotted with twine, and the shopping is complete.a motodop will materialize,grab the shopping and get you to his bike, rather colonial, but by now nobody cares anymore: sweaty, exhausted and dirty, one only wants to get the loot home, sort it and refrigerate or put into iceboxes, -the all purpose 'esky'- whatever will by now be sorely in need of refrigeration.
the esky is a standard feature, twice a day the ice truck will come, with huge blocks. Theoretically this is drinking water, well at least it was at some point, once it comes out of the ice factory it gets packed in rice chaff (messy), dropped into the dust, receives the attention of many a dog etc. the real 'drinking ice' get treated slightly better: small round pieces that get packed in old rice bags and are bought by the kilo.
so, it might come as no surprise that the chefs amongst us giggle whenever we remember the food regulations in our respective countries of orrigin ( as in:can you immaine they don't allow you to have a stockpotin the netherlands...)
don't judge book by the movie