On the road or on the tiles, there’s no shortage of good times to be had out and about with friends in this part of the world. What memories actually survive a hangover or chronic embarrassment are usually worth cherishing. Photographs: Alexander Crook/7Days
Daniel, 21 on an extended holiday in Phnom Penh
A few weeks ago I had my best friend Paul visiting from Paris. He is an absolute paranoid hypochondriac. I brought him out here under the condition that I was his guide and would take care of him and avoid dodgy places. Obviously, when travelling in Cambodia you cannot avoid everything. To him everything felt like jungle anyway. He always wore long sleeves, long trousers and even his neck was covered for protection. I always wore shorts and t-shirts. We took a trip to Siem Reap. On the way back our bus broke down in the middle of nowhere and it couldn’t be repaired. It started getting dark and my friend started freaking out. I told my friend that we might have to stay with a farmer’s family overnight. He didn’t like the idea at all. After four hours another bus came and we got back to Phnom Penh. My friend began to change after this experience. He trusted me the entire time even when I lost control over the situation as the bus broke down. I had promised to take care of him. Now Paul is laughing about the whole story and he is no longer a hypochondriac. Coming to Cambodia and doing this trip with me cured him of that.
Christoph, 28 marketing manager
A friend and I took a trip from Phnom Penh to Ho Chi Minh City. There, my friend and I had the brilliant idea to buy super soakers [water pistols]. Initially, I wanted them to chase away the street dogs that come to my house in Phnom Penh. We sat down with the loaded water guns in a café and already had all the attention men could want. It was a really busy tourist street. We were playing around with the waiters, splashing them with water. I thought they were used to stupid tourists, but they hadn’t seen anyone doing something silly like this before. When my friend needed cash I guarded him and the ATM with a serious face. He did the same when I went shopping in a groceries store. This all happened during the daytime without a single drop of beer. What I like about being a man is that you can do this silly kind of stuff with a friend without being embarrassed about it. The whole water gun thing didn’t end well though. Someone who shouldn’t have got wet got really wet, so we put down the guns and started drinking beer.
Sean, 30 NGO worker
I went to Koh Rong over Pchum Ben. With a few guys I went to a remote part of the beach where the sand ends and it becomes rockier. We lit a bonfire there and sat around it. It was in the middle of the night and apart from the fire it was completely dark. We were drinking and decided to go for a swim and I think I broke a toe on the rocks. Behind the rocks the water gets dark immediately and we had to swim in the pitch-black water. Suddenly we realised that the more we swam out the water around us started to fluoresce in green light when we moved. One guy had brought goggles and we could see the movement of green lights under the water through them. That experience had really chilled us out somehow and when we got out of the water, we went back to the fire. One guy from South Africa pulled out a guitar. Usually that’s so lame at a bonfire but he played really well. That was a cool experience.
André, 27 teacher
It was a normal Friday night and I went out with a friend. We had been to all the regular Street 51 places like Zeppelin Bar, Pontoon… nothing special had happened that night so me and my buddy decided to get really drunk. We went to that little side street between Street 51 and Pontoon to look for a place with cheap beer. Suddenly a girl came out of a hair salon approaching us and we thought that it was a prostitute and declined. She seemed to take offence and started insisting that she was a girl. That’s when we saw that this girl actually was a ladyboy. There was no arguing about that. Anyway we declined again but she rolled down her top and flashed. We still said ‘no’ and then she rolled up her skirt and also flashed. I can’t tell what it was that me and my friend saw. Half in shock, we started laughing at each other and walked away. I thought that was just another night in Phnom Penh.