Cows + Reliability


I promised you a post about cows, and a post about cows you shall have.  Or at least pictures.  I’m thinking I’ll use the cows as a kind of metaphor for the more abstract stuff I’m talking about.

In my pre-trip research (yes, I did research), I often found people saying the visa clerks tried to scam them for $5.  This is for visas at the border, or in the airport.  $20 for a tourist visa, $25 for a business visa, both posted clearly, and, I was told, both quoted at $5 more than their true price — the clerk pocketing the difference.

And, I was told, the way to combat that was to hand them the appropriate amount of money and require a receipt.

Pictured above is the road from the just-outside-downtown area, with a few shops and so on, to my pad.  I walk that every day in my daily quest for a job, waving away the persistent and not-always-good-natured calls for me to rent a tuk-tuk.

In the rare times when I do rent a tuk-tuk, I go out of my way to hire it not from the locale where I’m always walking.  That’s because I want these guys to get discouraged from hassling me.  (It’s starting to work.)


But for my part, there was absolutely no funny business when I got my visa.  They charged as advertised; they passed it along a chain of officials, each one peering and stamping and doing their thing to the paperwork; and I got my visa quite quickly. 

Quicker than others who had been around longer, in fact.  Maybe because nobody in their right mind would smuggle anything from America to Cambodia — the ones who had been waiting were Koreans, from the connecting flight, which they might look at more closely, it being closer and more convenient for bad guys.  I’m guessing.

One day, while walking to town, I was confronted by three cows, hanging out in the road and noshing on the long grass.  These are generally preferred to lawnmowers or weed-whackers, which I’ve never seen.  Although I have seen workers whacking at grass with mini-machetis, and another time a guy using a sickle.


When I got out of the airport, three tuk-tuk drivers were suddenly in my face, and wanted to hire me their taxis.  I scanned them.  All three looked pretty dirty. 

The guy on the left was there with a seven-year-old boy.  The guy in the middle had used the word “taxi” and had a vest bearing the number 5574, which made him look official.  The guy on the right looked like he wanted to kill someone.  He was out.

The leftmost guy was trying to be calm, but was a little too tense; and the kid was clearly an appeal to guilt.  Charity was one thing, business another.  I pointed to 5574, who looked official and confident in what he was doing, and said, “You.  Let’s go.”

He tried to take my bags; I wouldn’t let him, figuring he could make a speedy getaway with them.  The guy on the right, who looked dangerously angry, tried to push his way into the situation, taking my bags for me.  The security guards on the side got ready to make a move.  I held up a hand, and said, “Thank you.  Thank you.”  Until he stopped.

While I was taking pictures of the first two cows, the third cow, across the street, saw me and came trotting over.  I know animals, and that was the trot of a cow that thought free food was maybe being handed out, and who didn’t want to miss his.  (This cow, as you see, was in fact a bull.)


The trip with 5574, who I later learned was named Thea, was uneventful.  But I made the mistake of letting him become my friend, which has worked out as you have heard.

…I don’t know, requiring me to put him out to pasture?  Where I hope he’ll find two lovely cows to his liking?

I’ll also say, I was warned that “the power goes out in Siem Reap all the time.”  But it was a week before we had an outage, and then it was very brief — shorter than 45 minutes — and there was another one, for less than 10.

Published in: on August 23, 2009 at 6:23 pm  Leave a Comment  

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