We woke up to a beautiful morning. It was absolutely gorgeous outside which, under normal circumstances would have been the day I would use to initiate my 7 day adventure through Angkor Archaeological Park. This was the weather I was waiting for. Previous week was rather rainy and since entrance fee to the temples of Angkor is rather steep, I wanted to wait until the weather improves so I get the most out of my money. And here it was, the perfect day to go get my weekly pass to Angkor Wat and start exploring, but I couldn’t do that. I had a very special guest in my room and couldn’t just kick her out of there right away so I can dress up, mount the bike and ride off to Angkor. That didn’t bother me one bit, though. I knew there will be many gorgeous days like this one and Angkor will not run away. Yet even though making friends with a prostitute was not anything I would have actively pursued, spending time together with Ha during the day, far away from flashing lights and loud music of the Temple Club gave me a chance to really know her and uncover her rather fascinating, albeit shocking life story. This was my own personal interview with a prostitute.
It started as a lazy morning but we were wide awake once I got the curtains open. Hot rays of intense Cambodian sun entered the room and tickled our senses with welcoming invite to leave the comfort of an air conditioned room and go enjoy the unbearable heat of the Siem Reap outdoors. We got dressed, brushed our teeth and were about to leave to get breakfast when Ha asked me if I would give her at least some money for food for her daughter. This was a bit disappointing to hear. All I could think of was: “So this was all about money in the end anyway!” Even though disappointed to have been asked that, I sensed that she felt as horrible about asking me as I felt about being asked. There was something undeniably sincere about Ha so I did not make a big deal out of it and handed her a $5 bill from my wallet. Afterall, she’s never attempted to steal from me and take off while I was sleeping. She’s never pulled anything funny against me and remained a loyal and respectful guest to my room. But most of all, her eyes did not lie. I had no doubt that she’s not looking for cash to buy drugs. She was not a prostitute to begin with and she was definitely not a junkie. I felt certain that the money will go to the right cause so I showed support without second guessing.
All ready to go, we left the room and headed straight for the scorching outdoors. Though we were still in the morning hours, the temperature was already near 40 Degrees Celsius making it scary to imagine what it was going to be like in the afternoon. I was covered in sweat within seconds but I tried not to get bothered by that slight inconvenience. We were walking slowly down the south end of Sivatha Road looking for a nice local restaurant where we could park it and order some munchies. The chat was on going. It truly was an interview with a prostitute only as my questions were being answered, horrific details of Ha’s life story kept giving me the creeps.
We sat in a small local restaurant, asked the owner to point their fan straight at us to wash away the sweat from our faces, ordered spicy chicken with rice and digged right in. The food was delicious and now that we had our stomachs smiling and rehydrated with several bottles of mineral water, unwilling to go back in the sun, we talked and talked. I could not believe what I was hearing. I could not believe there are people in the world who have to go through ordeals comparable to that of Ha and her daughter. I was horrified over the life of fear she has to live and how corrupt system of her home country would not provide her with any protection so she must run and hide. The story gave me sads and I can imagine it was but a tip of the iceberg. Details about Ha and her sad life are in the next post.