This morning started off with quite the drama. I woke up and went out into the common area. I saw the hostel monkey (the owner rescued her and takes care of her) running around, but I wasn’t sure if this was a normal thing since I had only spent one night here. The cleaning lady seemed to not mind, so I thought maybe they let the monkey out of her cage every once in a while.
I was standing by a table when the monkey came up from behind me, climbed up on my shoulders, bit my arm, and then started aggressively pulling my hair.
I had no idea what to do— it seemed the more I resisted, the more she pulled. One of the staff members came to try to help me, and started pulling the monkey off of me. The monkey continued to pull at my hair until she finally let go and was put back in her cage.
I was freaking out— partly because this was the first time I’ve ever had a monkey climb on me and pull my hair, partly because it was quite painful, and thirdly because I wasn’t sure if she had any diseases that she could pass onto me.
The most annoying part of this whole thing was that the cleaning lady, who witnessed the whole thing start to finish, just stood there laughing the entire time. Like, HELP ME WOMAN! I honestly don’t know what I would have done if that other staff member hadn’t come to help me.
I was relieved to learn that the monkey is clean; I wouldn’t have to go to the hospital for rabies or anything.
After that debacle, it was breakfast time. I ordered avocado toast with beans. It was ok— my toast barely had any avocado and it was back to that gross Asian sweet bread that I haven’t had to eat since Myanmar.
My two dorm mates, Mike and Atke, rented motorbikes downtown. I rode on the back of Mike’s motorbike and we all rode to the Temple Caves together. The ride there was bumpy as hell, and I was so impressed that Atke was able to ride the whole way with no mishaps– this was her first time ever driving a motorbike!
There were two little Cambodian girls who showed us around (it was a weekday, though, and I couldn’t help but wonder why they weren’t in school…). I thought it was just going to be a straightforward cave tour where you just walk through it, but they took us through the little crevices and holes of the cave. Some parts were really hard to crawl through, and it turned out to be way more challenging than I had anticipated. I love caving though, so I had a lot of fun.
We got back on our bikes and rode to the “Secret Lake” to go swimming. Yuval, one of the hostel volunteers who joined us, led us to a random swimming spot in the backyard of a local family’s home. They were really kind to let us just use their backyard.
Getting into the lake was… interesting. It was really mossy so I didn’t want to touch the ground. Then it got really deep, so we swam out further to a more shallow part. That part was also very mossy, so I ended up just treading water the whole time. There were so many water lice and I got bitten so many times— every time I think I’m better with nature, I am quickly reminded that I am still not really a nature person.
We dried off and then rode to La Plantation, a big black pepper plantation in Kampot. I was starving so I quickly ordered a fruit salad before the start of the tour.
The first part of the tour was a presentation about the peppers: the history of the plantation, how they grow the peppers, the other produce they grow there. I almost fell asleep multiple times— it reminded me of being back in school, getting through those really boring lectures, almost dozing off, and having to force myself to stay awake.
After that we tried about a gazillion different types of pepper. All of them were really spicy. My stomach felt a little weird and my tongue was numb by the end. I was peppered out and definitely awake.
The guide then walked us around the plantation: there were banana trees, pineapple bushes (who knew they grow like that!), passion fruit trees, and more. We tried more pepper. We tried turmeric that made all our teeth yellow. We tried more pepper.
We rode back toward the hostel after the tour and stopped at a random restaurant on the way. It turned out to be a local BBQ place where you get your own grill, choose your plate, and grill it yourself. I just sautéed a bunch of veggies and ate them with rice. It was pretty good, and only cost me a dollar. Holla!
Once we were back at the hostel we all passed out for a quick nap, and then played Settlers of Catan. It’s basically a boardgame where you try to build as big of a city as you can. It was my first time playing, and it was really fun!
I ordered some green curry for dinner. The hostel partners up with a local restaurant that delivers food to us for free. My curry was good, but it came piping hot in a plastic bag, which can’t be good for my health (or for the environment for that matter).