Cock or Bollocks

Goodbye Vietnam. We loved the land of Ho Chi Minh, but it was high time to escape communism and enter the “Kingdom of Cambodia.” Seriously, the place is called a “Kingdom.” It’s even listed that way on their money and the visa we received at the border. We expected a royal entrance. What we got was a dusty road, a 2 dollar bribe for “medical clearance,” and a bumpy trip along the coast. “All hail the Kingdom!”

Cambodia is well known as a poor country with a recent torrid past, a rich cultural history, and a spiritual mystique; but we put all that aside for the time being and headed for their version of a beach town: Sihanoukville. 

Sihanoukville is the twisted offspring of spring break Daytona Beach and Bob Marley’s Jamaica. It was named after a famous king who loved the cinema and completely confused the country by changing sides during every war. The place is swarming with backpackers guzzling cheap beer, lounging on beach chairs, and munching on “happy” pizza. All this while a constant mix of reggae and rock keep the masses swaying. Sounds completely gaudy, but done correctly, it can be quite fun.

The beach scenery outside of the main strip is beautiful. Rocky outcrops mix with blue calm waters and jungle foliage. Although most don’t venture that far. The main attraction is the buzzing main drag. Set right on the sand, the Cambodian locals serve ice cold 50 cent beer and fresh BBQ seafood. Just kick back in a cushioned pappazan and watch the waves roll in. Cortney and I reserved a day to be as lazy as possible, hunkering down in a spot and ordering off the happy pizza menu, a collection of hand tossed pies with an additional herb included. With the right ingredients of sand, surf, and buzz we almost forgot we were in the land of buddhas and ancient temples.

The next morning, very late in the morning, we determined that one day of beach boozing was enough and the call of secluded islands was once again irresistable. We booked a charter boat for the furthest palm fringed land from the coast, Koh Rong. Two and a half hours of the slowest boat ride of our lives brought us to our tropical paradise for the next few days.

Two things were immediately apparent, the island is completely gorgeous and it is absolutely remote. There were about 15 guests occupying 10 bungalows. Ice was brought in a few large chunks at a time on the single boat run. Electricity was turned on from 6pm to 9pm each evening. Monkeys were tied to a tree awaiting our arrival.

Before you scream “PETA” at the top of your lungs, the little monkeys were humanely rescued from traps in the forest and rehabilitated as pets. Pets that were far from tame and obedient. The primate teens could not help but get into all sorts of mischief. They raided our bungalows, stole our banana pancakes, and bit our ankles as we walked past, but they were just too damn adorable to be mad at for long.

The rest of the days were spent lounging around, swimming in the crystal clear water, or taking hikes through the jungle. It’s a fantastic place to get lost in a book or the backs of your eyelids. We found a few marine species in the ocean, including some beautiful eight armed starfish. Also, I conveniently found poison ivy in the jungle. It’s the load stone to my compass.

The only issue that arose was what to do at 9pm when the lights turn off and you’ve napped all day. Our Brit friends had a great solution; drink copious amounts of local whiskey and play Cock or Bollocks. The rules are quite simple:

1. Acquire alcohol (hard to play the game without it)
2. Drink said alcohol
3. The person in the group with the best game show host voice leads the collective in unison by energetically announcing, “It’s time to play Cock orrrrr Bollocks!!”
4. One at a time and in a clockwise fashion, each male turns around and arranges his package to display a small part of his “twig or berries”  in England, his “Cock or Bollocks.”
5. The rest of the table votes by means of shouting whether he is displaying “Cock!” or “Bollocks!”
6. Everyone laughs and toasts the advancement of the human race.

This game and others continued into the wee hours of the night and culminated in a group of very sea sick passengers making their way back to the mainland the next day.

Beauty, solitude, and inebriation. What a wonderful start to our time in Cambodia. We knew we had to do some really “GOOD” deeds to make up for this debauchery.

Quick medical side note:
I’ve run into poison ivy three times previously in Texas and every time it was almost the same thing; itchy eye, then eye swollen shut, and then an annoying two week rash. Not a terrible experience but always frustrating, especially since it takes so long, and several visits, to get to a doctor to administer a shot of cortisone, which is the only thing that really works for me.

In Cambodia: Quick trip to the clinic down the road at 8pm. The doctor was called in from his house. I received one cortisone shot, one antihistamine shot, and several rounds of allergy meds. Grand total without insurance: $47.00 U.S.