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Shake'n it Up

One Body and Eight Fuzzy Legs of Goodness. Web Not Included.

CAMBODIA | Thursday, 9 April 2009 | Views [522]

For $0.25, you can purchase your worst nightmare. Fortunately, I was offered it for free.

I had only been in Siem Reap for thirty minutes and I befriended some expats at the bar below our guest house. Along with my beer, I was immediately offered a delicate piece of deeply fried meat, or should I say, arachnid. This wasn't your everyday spider that creeps along your walls and casts a half an inch shadow. When crushed, this creature would cover an entire square foot of surface area. It was gnarly!

Nobody else in the bar would lay a hand on the spider, so I decided to give it a shot. Living by my philosophy of "trying everything once, and if doesn't kill me, doing it again." I wasn't brave enough to chomp down on the body, so I snapped off it's front leg and slowly inserted it into my mouth. Not bad, not bad...a little to crunchy for my liking, but it made it's way into my tummy without any complications. I couldn't believe it. I had just consumed a spiders leg. Next time, I'm going for the whole thing.

Siem Reap was full of life, beauty and history. The main attraction are the ruins of Angkor Wat, an incredible palace built of sandstone in the 12th century. There are hundreds of temples scattered around the site but the most known is the central structure that boasts three symmetrical towers resembling lotus buds or dried corn husks. The most spectacular view of the ruins took place at sunrise. The 4am wake up calls Hannah, Molly and I received from our cell phones was well worth the it. We arrived at Angkor Wat with the thousands of other tourists wanting to capture the beauty of the sunrise. There were signs posted EVERYWHERE that clearly displayed "no talking." How does is a symbol of a big red cross over a head with its mouth open, talking, not translate into a universal symbol of "please be quiet?" Once I plugged my ears with Sufjan Stevens and looked up, I was at peace. I couldn't deal with the chaotic chants, songs and chitter chatter from the tour groups. The moon and the stars danced above me until they slowly started to fade into the sunrise.

Yes, Angkor Wat at sunrise was stunning and I would highly recommend this $40 ticket to anybody, but it wasn't the highlight of Siem Reap. It didn't touch on any emotion. It was an empty feeling of beauty.

I was mostly intrigued with the locals and the children. They were running around everywhere. Many of them would approach me with baskets of knick knacks, bottles of water or just empty hands begging for money. Yes, the saw me as a dollar sign, but I wanted them to see more than that.

"Lady, lady, you thirsty. Cold water for you, one dollar."

"You want bracelets. Special price for you."

These children were persistent and refused to back off until they successfully made a sale...unless you catch them off guard. I found it quite entertaining to beat them at their own game. Instead of saying no, no, I don't need a watch, I would ask them their names, how old they were. If they were responsive, I would joke around with them. Their English is superb, even their accents are accurate. These children learn English from the tourists. Since many of them are forced to sell trinkets everyday, they have lots of exposure to the language.

I even taught a seven year old boy the game of basketball. He was wearing a Michael Jordan jersey and I kept asking him if he liked basketball. I could tell he was a bit confused with the word so I started acting out the sport. I even grabbed my Blazer Jersey to show him that we had similar tastes in fashion. I passed an invisible ball to myself, dribbled back and forth, positioned the ball over my head, snapped my wrist and....released. Score! 2 points! My act of sherades turned into a game of pictionary, and finally, a game of one on one. I crumbled up a piece of paper from my journal, had the boy hold up his arms for a hoop, and passed the wad of paper back and forth. He had potential to be the next Michael Jordan, or should I say...the next Brandon Roy?!

Just spread'n the love of the game...on the other side of the world. Go Blazers!

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