Monkey Business

Authored By Jennifer

Before heading up to Siem Reap, we went to the US embassy in Phnom Penh to have some pages added to our passports. I’ve never been to a US embassy but what I pictured in my mind was a building with a huge American flag in front, some American soldiers standing guard at the entry, and upon showing our American passports, we would be welcomed with open arms as fellow Americans. The actual embassy, at least in PP, was a little different. Firstly, the building was enormous. Actually it was more of a compound and it filled an entire city block. There was a huge brick wall surrounding the compound and one entry where Cambodian security guards checked your passport. When we arrived we were told to come back at 1 pm. Apparently US citizens are only allowed to visit the embassy between the hours of 1 and 4. Aren’t we paying for this place? Shouldn’t we be able to go whenever we want?

Inside we went through two security checks, of course, and sat in a small room that looked much like the DMV, only cleaner. And there was a big picture of Condi on the wall. What a smile. We took a number and waited for our passports to be updated. While waiting I enjoyed a very clean Western style bathroom with actual toilet-seat covers. Ahhh to sit on a toilet instead of squatting, a small luxury from home I desperately miss. At the end of the day it only took an hour to get our business completed, it didn’t cost us anything, and although the embassy was nothing as I expected, there was a huge American flag in front.

Across from the embassy was a park and Wat Phnom. We walked around and tried to go to the top of the hill to see the Wat. All of the security guards wanted to charge us $1 each to see it, and we were feeling pretty cheap that day. Instead we kept walking around and ran into a pack of monkeys. Now neither Brian nor I have ever seen monkeys in the wild. The only monkeys we’ve seen have been at the zoo, and our friend Lew who sometimes resembles a monkey. Of course we were fascinated and spent a good hour just watching them play. At one point the monkeys were really goofing off and the two of us and the group of locals that had gathered around all started laughing. The great thing about laughter is that it’s all the same language no matter where you’re from.

Next to us was a little boy and his mom who were feeding a monkey. The boy was probably three or four years old and he handed the seeds to the monkey one by one. We watched and took pictures thinking, “how cute is this?” when all of a sudden the monkey grabbed the little boy’s hand instead of the seed and started biting him. We stood in shock with our jaws dropped as the boy began screaming and people started yelling at the monkey. It turned out the little boy was fine, just scared. After that, we decided not to feed the monkeys.

One Response to “Monkey Business”

  1. Abraham Says:

    That Lew dude is super cool…don’t call him a monkey!!!