Sunday, March 18, 2007


It is, perhaps, absurd that I find myself writing from the lobby of the Hotel Raffles Le Royal, within site of the famed Elephant Bar. It is a far sight nicer than the Elephant Bar on 161 where I worked during college.

For someone who prefers greatly the company the abject to that of the affluent, the extent to which I’ve enjoyed my few moments of luxury in the foyer of this $1,000 per night hotel is a bit shocking. At any rate, I keep telling myself that I’m only here for the free internet, which justifies the scandalous (by Cambodian standards) $2.00 cost of this delicious chocolate croissant.

I’m working hard on cafĂ© stuff today. I think I’ve put together a reasonably reliable budget, and I’m working on filling in many of the gaps in my draft proposal. Later this afternoon, I will join our staff at the Ministry of Social Affairs for some sort of a signing ceremony. The suit I had made here last year will get another opportunity to earn its keep.

Yesterday we went to church with the orphans and did some shopping for souvenirs and gifts. I bought a little something for each of the staff members and their spouses, and I grabbed a few more things for the orphanage. The kids were in desperate need (well, I guess ‘desperate need’ is a bit of an overstatement given the previous situation faced by these children) of some better badminton birdies and some other sports equipment.

Last evening, we hosted a movie night for the university students. About 10 of them showed up at our guest house to drink Coke and watch Nacho Libre on my laptop. We tried to buy popcorn, but we couldn’t find any that didn’t require a microwave oven. The movie was stupid, but Jack Black conveyed the type of slapstick, self-defecating humor that translates well into Khmer. A good time was had by all.

After the students left, I watched ‘V for Vendetta’ up in my bed. Decent flick. Thought provoking and a little disturbing.

Okay. I just have to say, I hope that this hotel pays its male employees well. The women are all gorgeous, dressed in elegant silk dresses, and the men all look like complete dorks. I don’t think that this is the kind of place that smiles upon photography of the staff, so you’ll just have to trust me on this. The waiters (or stewards or butlers or manservants, or whatever they are) are attired in insultingly colonial plaid bloomers that look like something out of an Indian governor’s mansion. The doorman is wearing – I kid you not – what looks like a golden wedding cake on his head.

Like I said, I hope they get paid well.

Well, I should really be off. Another croissant beckons, and I have at least two more pages to write on my prospectus before I can feel like I’ve paid my dues for this opulence.


Tim said...

Please, oh, please, tell me you meant to type 'deprecating' and not 'defecating'. Granted, I've not seen Nacho Libre, so perhaps the humor therein is self-defecating. I just hope not.

Safe travels. Let us know how the planning for the kids' family business proceeds.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your ministry to the kids, wish I was with you, love them some more for me. Looking forward to seeing you soon Dad

John McCollum said...


Nope. I meant 'defecating.'