We arrive in Sihanoukville at last, and find ourselves not in a secluded beach town as I was somehow imagining, but in a hippy backpacker paradise with bars and music and tanning tourists. Passing sign after sign advertising "happy" this and "happy" that (code for pot food), we make our way to the beach. Cold, clear water, here we come!
Tyler holds the bikes while hawkers quickly descend. There are cute children selling bracelets and sunglasses, adults selling boat trips, and shifty moto-drivers whispering offers of marijuana and more. I leave him to talk to the kids, while I run into the water. It's lukewarm, and there's a bit of litter here and there, but it's the ocean, and boy does it feel good!
While Tyler takes his turn, I stand waiting, holding our bikes, clothes dripping salt water into the sand. As I survey the beach, relishing the fact that we've finally made it, I am approached by a pretty young woman carrying a plastic case of string and nail polish.
"Hello lady! You wan mannacue? I gib you mannacue, vedy chip prie!"
"No, no thank you, I'm okay", I respond with a smile. Then, she bends over and spots my week-and-a-half long leg hair. Crap. While it might be obvious I don't need my nails done, I am an easy, easy mark for her other business: Threading
Ooooh, you heb hair. I tred yo hair. It don't hurt, here, I gib you sample.
She sprinkles my calf with a white powder, and then goes to town removing hair left and right with a flash of her twirling fingers and twisting thread. She creates a small, smooth patch and grabs my finger so I can feel it and be impressed.
"You see? Smood? I tred your hair, veddy chip prie for you, my friend!"
She's genuine and a sweetheart, but I don't need my leg hair threaded this instant, on a crowded beach, while I'm holding onto our bikes and Tyler is in the water. Even so, the offer is tempting. My current razor is the last of its kind that I've seen around these parts, and it's about as sharp as a butter knife.
I don't really care about leg hair, but I do prefer smooth legs, especially when there's sweaty cycling involved. Threading actually sounds sort of appealing, but I'm not going to commit to anything right now. "Maybe" I tell her. "I have to find a hotel first, but maybe I'll be back later."
And then, then she does something I'm not expecting, and catches me completely off guard. She bores her brown eyes into mine, and asks sweetly, "you promih?" Next, she then holds out her pinkie to me as if she's at a tea party.
Before I know what's happening, my own little finger is locked around hers. $#!%! I have just pinkie sworn this Cambodian woman. GAAAHHH, how do they do it? They're so good, these Cambodian sales people.
I can't believe she busted out THE PINKIE SWEAR!
Tyler returns to the bikes, happy and dripping, and then we extricate ourselves from the mob of beach vendors. Wheeling through town, we ask around at various hotels until we find a nice, quiet, clean one for fifteen dollars a night.
There's much cheaper, grimier accommodation available (even free places where presumably you pay for your stay by drinking copious amounts of booze), but these days, we like things to be nice and comfy and clean.
As we get settled, I tell Tyler about the threading, and we get talking about what we want to do tonight. Eat burgers! French fries! Watch a movie at the movie theater across the street! But then, the realization sets in.
"But… I can't. I have to go. I have to go get my legs threaded.", I say. "What? You don't have to", Tyler responds. Then I tell him, "No, no, no, you don't understand. I PINKIE SWEARED HER BY ACCIDENT!"
Tyler's eyes widen and he gasps a little. "No…", he says in disbelief. "Yes", I nod, acknowledging this surprising truth. We reason together that tomorrow could also be considered "later." So, tonight, we'll have fun. Tomorrow, I'll get my legs threaded. Hopefully that still honors the pinkie swear, and she won't curse me forever.
So, we have a thoroughly enjoyable night. We eat delicious hamburgers, a very welcome change from noodle-mystery-meat-soup. We eat salty fried potato wedges. We cuddle up in the coziest movie theater I've ever been to—a glorified living room with a huge screen and comfy cushions, pillows, and couches. We watch "Eat Pray Love", and then we go for a walk on the beach.
We made it!