March 11, 2015

Food, Faces, and a Blind Woman's Hands

Today, I didn't have much touristing to do; I had decided to leave for Siem Reap pretty soon, and needed to refill my data account. If you simply buy a SIM and put $5 on it, it remains in a balance pool which I believe you can use for anything, but at far worse rates than if you set it up properly. So I went to the market this morning, found an actual Smart store (a bit like a T-mobile store, except much more convenient), bought five dollars' credit, and activated it on my account. The attendant ended up doing it for me, as I was in a bit of a hurry. In several minutes, my data reactivated and I was on my way.

One of the wats (temples, I believe) nearby had this clock on the lawn in front of it. I'd expected something much more out in the open and everything, but it ended up being a rather tree-filled, which restricted the angles I could take photos from a distance. I ended up getting up closer before taking many shots.

The design of this wat in particular illustrates the gradual transition from far-eastern aesthetics and design to more Indian and even Middle-Eastern. The market above reminds me somewhat of both the Grand Bazaar (which I've seen only in a video game) and the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem. It's a bit of a far relation, but I really appreciate the sort of connectedness of all the style and architecture of the world. The difference between Vietnam and Cambodia is somewhat subtle, but if you pay attention, it's both intriguing and obvious the differences between them.

A cat was licking either his wounds, or his butt. I don't know which. I think he was purring, but he might have been irritated how close I got my camera to him when I took this shot.

After visiting the wat above, I found my way to the Mekong Express station here in Phnom Penh, where I bought a ticket to Siem Reap for $13 on the 13th. There were tickets available elsewhere for $8, but probably not with Mekong, so I went to them and I'll doubtless be satisfied with my purchase.

After I bough the bus ticket, I walked around, trying to find the Seeing Hands Massage center. This organization trains blind people with little or no chance of another profession (at least in this country) in massage therapy. The proceeds of my session go to their business, which furthers the lives of the blind men and women working there.

I wasn't wildly impressed with the massage I received there; perhaps my expectations were high, or perhaps I don't know what a good massage is, but it was a very heavy massage (despite the fact that my masseuse was a woman).

I paid $7 for the hour, and if nothing else, my body feels sort of shaken up. I'd like to try a massage back home to see if I enjoy it more, or it feels better afterwards, or something. It wasn't something good enough to do over at the same place again...but what do I know about how my body's supposed to feel?

One very interesting subject for photography is the sparks created when welding. I really wanted to get closer (a few feet or less) but that wouldn't be particularly safe, and the fellow probably would have stopped me. It's not uncommon to see Vietnamese or Cambodians welding without hand or eye protection.

I don't know exactly what the purpose of this display is, but I guess it's probably advertising the skills of a mechanic. The fellow behind the display would probably be said mechanic.

This is how you buy gasoline in Vietnam. Most people ride motorcycles, and there aren't really that many gas stations around, but every other block (or less), there's someone with a stall, selling normal tourist things, food, or something else, with liter bottles of gasoline on the side. I think the price is better than at the gas station, but I wouldn't know if the quality is better or worse, or if that's a proper liter...but this is how people refill their motorcycles at least some of the time here in Cambodia.

Case in point; it's somewhat full-service, actually; the attendant of the stall will just grab a bottle and a funnel, you open up the seat, and he starts pouring it in. Money is exchanged, and you're on your way.

Tuk tuks are everywhere. I sort of attempted to make it seem like these guys were racing, but they actually weren't.

Before I went home tonight, I went to a rather expensive restaurant near the river, which you can also see in the above picture. I ended up getting some sushi, a bit of some sort of raw fish on the side, a salad, some other sea-creature or plant, and a steak, served raw, which I then was tasked to cooking on a stone delivered to my table very hot. I had no idea what I was doing, so I basically tried to sear all six sides of the cut; I don't know if the meat was intended to stick to the stone, but that's not really my problem. My problem is eating (I presume) a rare steak for the first time.

I was unfortunately too worried about the possibility of getting food poisoning to really think about the taste much. I think it was good, but then again, I'm no meat freak. I'll have to go out with a certain young fellow back home to be educated in the ways of the steak.

I intentionally brought only a prime lens with me to take shots like this. The subject-background separation is much better with a wide aperture like that of my Sigma lens. Exposing the shots properly with such a wide aperture, though, is a little difficult in such bright settings.

I got a little brave and asked this couple for their photo less than a minute later. It turned out well.

Continuing down the road, this fellow was helping someone exit their parking space, and my initial shot wasn't particularly interesting. This one was a bit better.

Friends nearby wanted their photo taken too, so I obliged. I enjoy this part of photography a ton, as people are eager to have their photos taken. A lot of the time back home people are very unwilling, which really grinds my gears. These experiences are somewhat heartening by comparison.

All in all, today has been good. I remain well, despite the sushi, raw fish, and rare steak. I'll be heading to Siem Reap on the 13th, and...tomorrow is my birthday.

I haven't planned anything very impressive, and to be honest, today I went into the red a bit with my budget. I'll have to figure out somewhere to get a cake for cheap. It's possible that someone's waiting to surprise me here given the scanned my passport, but I'm pretty accustomed to people giving my birthday no more attention than my unassuming admission allows. Today was a bit of a splurge day, though. Maybe I won't treat myself tomorrow. We'll see.


No comments: