Money matters out of the way, I was happy to return to Phi-lay’s home. Since I mentioned chicken was my favorite the previous night, his wife planned to cook it two different ways. While Phi-lay was driving a few other tourists around, I hung out with Rich and an assortment of his siblings and neighborhood kids. There always seemed to be lots of people around. We sat on a rustic bench in the shade of a large tree near the road, and watched life (and traffic) go by. Phi-lay’s brother was in town, however he didn’t speak English.
I’m a recovering picky eater, so when the night’s offerings were placed upon the table and I saw the chicken still on the bone, I moved slowly so as not to take more of the food than I knew I could eat. In restaurants, if I forget to ask, and chicken arrives on the bone, I usually leave it completely aside. My strategy failed miserably when Phi-lay continued to heap on chicken long after I had stopped. While I enjoyed nibbling on a few of the frog’s legs, he made sure to give me an entire curry-stuffed little beast. To my surprise, I enjoyed it more than the chicken. The guts had been removed in favor of a spicy curry paste. It was a little gritty, but otherwise tasty.
Since they don’t have a refrigerator, ice is required to keep drinks (or food) cool, so I was honored that they had bought ice to keep two Anchor beers cold for me. Phi-lay and his brother drank cheap ginger wine without abandon. He said a bottle normally lasts him 10 days, thereby accounting for one after-work drink a night.
After the adults ate, followed by the kids (oldest to youngest), I was once again invited to watch Bollywood movies upstairs. Knowing what to expect this time, I simply sat back and soaked up the atmosphere. We shared some small treats I had bought earlier when Rich took me on a short moto ride. We stopped at a small, finely manicured park where he said people go for wedding photos. A young woman pulled up in a Lexus SUV (popular vehicle of the wealthy in the country), and Rich commented on her status. His master plan was to marry a European woman so he could leave Cambodia and make more money (I have no doubt some of which would be sent back to his family).
When the lights went off at 9pm, the flashlights turned on, and I hopped on Phi-lay’s moto for the ride back to my hotel. Before getting into town, I gingerly leaned backwards and cranked my neck up to see a night’s sky filled with twinkling white stars.