Friday, July 20, 2018

Battling Butterflies and a Fox Hat

Yesterday we had a leisurely day in Siem Reap. It started off rather strangely, when we were rousted from bed by loud music and cheering. I thought maybe there was a wedding or some other party nearby, but it turned out to be a passing political parade on the road outside our hotel. Apparently elections are scheduled in a week or so, and this was one political party's efforts to drum up some votes:

Cambodians certainly seem happy about their politics, don't they? Unlike Americans at the moment.

I spent the morning reading by the pool, and then Dave and I went to lunch at a restaurant called the Butterflies Garden, featuring dozens and dozens of colorful butterflies in a screened-in garden enclosure. There's also a fish pond, somewhere between the size of a big bathtub and a small swimming pool. The food was excellent.

Here's something I never knew: Apparently butterflies fight each other. We saw a few that looked rather tattered, and then I saw one land on another in a way that seemed aggressive. Sure enough, it's all about defending territory. I suppose in the tiny environment of a screened enclosure a little aggression is understandable. It's "Lord of the Flies" -- for real!

Then Dave went back to the room and I took a walk through town. I passed this guy serving as a dual locksmith and shoe repairman, and I asked him if I could take his picture. Why is it that locksmithing and shoe repair go hand-in-hand? We often see the same combination in London.

My goal was to walk all the way back to the hotel, and I almost made it, despite having only a fuzzy map of Siem Reap in my head. I just walked and walked, figuring I could always get a tuk-tuk if I got hopelessly lost. As it turns out, I was pretty close to our hotel by the time I got tired and caught a ride.

I passed a lot of curious places along the way. This bar, for example. I wondered if "wearing a fox hat" had some kind of significance? And sure enough, there's a picture of a guy on the sign, wearing a tuxedo and, yes, a fox hat:

I was extremely bewildered.

Then I came home and Googled it, and apparently it's a pun, relating back to this 1999 Miller Beer commercial. File this under "moments in popular culture that I have missed."

(I had to travel to Cambodia to learn this?!)

Last night, we went to dinner at the Embassy Restaurant, an elegant place near the river. We had a six-course meal with wine pairings for me (herbal tea for Dave, who has sworn off alcohol because of his Crohn's) and it was very good. The chefs are two women with the same name who call themselves "twins," and Dave noticed that every employee we saw was a woman. Sisters are doin' it for themselves!

Most of today we're relaxing in Siem Reap, and then this evening we're on a plane to Hanoi. Coming to you tomorrow from Vietnam!


  1. Cambodians aligned with the CPP may be happy, others aligned elsewhere may not be happy. Cambodia has a dark & difficult political past; for decades, and they are not yet out of the woods.
    Isn't that guy wearing the foxtail hat a latter day Davy Crockett?
    Tropical countries are amazing places for butterfly species, fighting or not.
    What's on the Vietnam agenda? I guess I had netter stay tuned.

  2. Oh damn! Netter - definition: staying tuned on the Internet. Hmmm.

  3. I am a little surprised that you didn't spend another day exploring the Angkor temples. Siem Reap is a tawdry place that only exists because of its proximity to all that amazing history. Looking forward to your Vietnam posts.

  4. thats interesting about the butterflies I never thought of them being aggressive,, they just always seem such gentle creatures but little did we know lol,, Such unusual and curious things you came upon on your walk, the Embassy restaurant sounds very up and coming,, all woman,, excellent! That's great to know!Such amazing sights you bring us!Thank you!

  5. Nice of Woody from Toy Story to sit and model for the FoxHatGuy signage.

  6. There is just something in these pictures which reminds me of Mexico. The absolutely fearlessness about the use of color for one. And in Mexico there are often vans and trucks going by blaring out music and political promises. I suppose I am just trying to relate what I'm seeing here to something I know.
    It's all so beautiful. And I think you are very brave, walking such long distances in such an unfamiliar place!
    Could I make a little request? Maybe a few more pictures of food? How silly is that? Still. I would love to see some of what you're experiencing palate-wise too.
    I just want ALL the pictures!

  7. wear the fox hat...ha! it does seem very much like Mexico as Ms Moon says. and the 6 course meal sounds wonderful. I don't think I've ever had a 6 course meal. maybe once.

  8. I'm really enjoying your photos and comments from Cambodia. That political parade is certainly much happier that a rally for you know who. Speaking of you know who, be glad you are not in the US right now. The news is totally absurd these days.
    The fox hat story is most unusual. And, I didn't know that about butterflies. I'll have to watch for that next time they Desert Botanical Garden opens the butterfly pavilion.

  9. It's certainly a different way of life. Our eyes should be opened to differences.

  10. suffocating bears and the wires overhead ! The parade of voters, much more cheerful than one might find here in Putin's amerika. Your trip is lovely so far, may it continue , stay well!

  11. Lovely reporting. My husband did a three year biodiversity project in Vietnam. He says the place felt rather French. I'll be curious to hear your impressions.

  12. I love seeing the street world there. So different from our streets here, and yet familiar. Just seeing the words, "Coming to you tomorrow from Vietnam," makes me think of Robin Williams saying "Good morning, Vietnam." And soon you will be there. Safe travels.

  13. Alphie: I don't really have a sense of modern Cambodian politics, but of course I am aware of the tragic political history of the country, particularly in the '70s. It seems like things are quite stable now.

    YP: You know, I loved Angkor, but one (LONG!) day seemed like enough. When I travel, I really love seeing how people live now. I wanted to walk among the Cambodians (albeit in a tourist town) and see what was happening! I don't think SIem Reap is so tawdry, really. I've seen much worse!

    Laurie: Isn't that bizarre, about the butterflies?! It certainly surprised me!

    Utah: It IS Woody! I wonder if Pixar gets royalties? LOL

    Ms Moon: Yeah, I can definitely see the similarities! They're both very colorful, tropical countries, although where Mexico has the Catholic virgin, Cambodia has the Buddha. I suppose a lot of countries share a love for color and an ease of spirit that, sadly, we don't often see in "developed" America. (Or Britain.)

    Ellen: The courses are tiny, so by the end you don't feel stuffed. Critically important!

    Sharon: I'm reading some of the news, though I'd really rather not. LOL

    Red: Absolutely. I think the most valuable thing about travel is meeting different people from different cultures. We learn not to fear so much.

    Linda Sue: The wires are INSANE! I've never seen such crazy nests of power lines, even in India, which is renowned for its crazy wiring.

    37P: Interesting! Where in Vietnam was he? Some towns have more of a colonial flavor than others, from what I understand.

    Robin: I loved that movie! And I miss Robin Williams. :(

  14. It is such an education traveling to other countries. I am enjoying your trip so much through your photos and comments. It sounds like you have made very good choices with your restaurants.
    I very much look forward to your time in Vietnam and the places you visit there. Huge thanks for sharing .

  15. Wow, I never realized butterflies could be aggressive...Your dinner sounded fabulous...What has been your favorite thing about the trip so far?

  16. There is competition in every corner of the animal kingdom when you look closely enough. We tend to think of some species as peaceful but it's all about the struggle to get one's genes into the pool, I guess!

    That was an interesting parade, and well-filmed, I might add. If I try to film a video on my camera, if there is any motion it will make you dizzy to watch it - lol