It's been a few weeks since I returned from South-East Asia, so I should probably start writing about something else. I'm not ready to do that yet.
Bryan, Britney and I adopted (or were adopted by) Alison, a British girl visiting Cambodia after competing in a muay thai tournament in Thailand. We gorged ourselves on Siem Reap's finest street food, and then set off for the local night market. All night markets in the entire world look exactly the same, and they all sell the same worthless shit. With that in mind, I decided to stimulate the local economy by finding the perfect opium pipe. I don't smoke opium, so there is no reason for me to buy s pipe. This is a reality that somehow was escaping me at the time. Alison was helping me in my search while Bryan and Britney went on a mission for an equally worthless knick-knack.
Fortunately for me, opium pipes are about as common as hookers in Siem Reap. That is to say, they are EVERYWHERE. Small stalls selling the exact same pipe right next to each other would give me vastly different price quotes. After hearing the initial $12 price bettered by a man offering it for $6, I became convinced that a $2 pipe must be available somewhere around there.
We made our way towards the back of the market, passing a woman pushing a wheel-barrow filled to the brim with fried, palm-sized tarantalas.
"Haha, look at that!" I exclaimed to Alison. "Man, people will eat anything." I shook my head in sympathy at what must bring someone to resort to eating something so nasty as spider guts. With my characteristic short attention span, I immediately was distracted from the spiders by a fresh opium pipe stall that I hadn't bargained with yet.
"We're eating them." Alison's voice was low and full of purpose. Looking back at her, her eyes hel a steely determination.
I laughed nervously. "Haha, good one. Come check out this stall. They have those antique-looking pipes that are so cool-looking, and the vendor looks desperate."
She cut me off. "You're eating one." She then grabbed my arm and propelled me towards the wheel-barrow.
"Wait," I stammered, "lets talk about this..."
We looked into the large mass of giant black spiders. They were disgusting. It was obvious to everyone. The bodies and heads were fat and juicy. The legs were crispy-looking, but the hair hadn't burnt off for some reason. I relaxed. There was no way Alison could have taken this second closer look at the creatures and still think this was a good idea. No way. It was impossible. Lunacy even...
"We'll have two," Alison told the woman selling them.
"Ready?" Alison asked, holding "my" spider out to me by one hairy leg.
"Wait," I said, thinking quickly. "We need a drink first."
She rolled her eyes, but nodded. At the bar I tried to decide what concoction would kill my taste buds most effectively. Jack Daniels it is then.
We saluted and began the serious business of drinking whiskey. My spider sat on his napkin and stared at me. Then it called me a coward. I glared back at it.
The whiskey and spiders were a good conversation started, and we were quickly joined by Galang, Alex and the rest of their crew. Strangely, they wanted to eat the spiders. About this time, Bryan wandered over towards us. He looked at the whiskey. He looked at the spiders. He looked at our faces, which reflected both excitement and utter horror.
"It's going to be one of those kinds of nights, is it?"
I nodded, despair obvious. He nodded back and went off to find the spider lady.
When he returned, the now-hefty group of us cheersed our spiders against each other, and went to work. Alison went right to it, while I nibbled delicately at one of the legs. They were crispy and reeked slightly of death, disease and Eastern European BO. Noticing my own slow progress as Alison polished hers off, I rolled my eyes, sighed, and bit into the fat abdomen. It tasted about like you would expect it to, but since Alison was looking at me, I smiled and said "yum."
Bryan returned and disapeared with two bottles of cobra whiskey. He poured shots all around, and we pulled the cobras out of the jars to play with and throw at each other. Speaking to the high quality control standards of Cambodia, the liquid in each shot was of a slightly different color. They all tasted the same however; like rancid formaldehyde.
Half-blind from whiskey and spider, we followed our new friends to a night club. They poured shot after shot of scotch, while we posed for pictures with the snakes.
To the best of my knowledge, we kept drinking. At some point in the night, we must have somehow found our way back to the guest house.