Well, New Year’s Eve was interesting.
Here we were in Siem Reap, Cambodia. Ready to celebrate New Year’s Eve. My partner and I had moved to this famous town a couple of months earlier. We were looking forward to the festive season, knowing full well that Siem Reap is indeed a party town.
Siem Reap is only small – about 280,000 people. But during the Christmas season, the population swells markedly as tourists from Europe, Oceania, Asia and North America descend on this town. It’s very popular this time of year no doubt due to the cooler weather as holidaymakers make the short trek to nearby Angkor Wat and it’s fabulous antiquities.
And New Year’s Eve brought it home in dramatic fashion. The streets of this vibrant town were clogged with revelers.
After being stuck in a huge crowd for half an hour, my trusty companion and I decided to exit stage left and head for a quiet bar. Besides, I was hungry.
The bar turned out to be a hookers bar, called Mickey’s. Not that I mind. In Asia, this kind of thing is par for the course.
But when inside I was amazed how dead it was. On the biggest night of the year, it exuded as much energy as a sloth on a slow day.
The lack of zest in this bar was in stark contrast to what was happening ten paces away in the street. This was no ordinary bar. This was like a zombie bar complete with zombie hookers – the walking dead.
For the gals that worked there, this was just another night. Another chance to strut their stuff. The only problem was that no one was buying. The few guys there were intent on watching sport on the big screen tv. To hell with the girls.
But I was struck by the lack of a festive spirit in that bar. I kinda felt sorry for the sad sack gals, many of whom were mature. One looked around 50. What a way to make a buck when the last thing you want is to sell your sagging body for a few shekels to desperate and pathetic guys.
But tonight there were no desperate guys. Just sad sack girls waiting – anyone – for someone to buy them a drink.
So at 11.55pm – after a bite to eat – we exited that sad place. Back into the cauldron again.
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