Wednesday, March 26, 2008


I just wanted to share quickly another reason my mother is amazing. My first day traveling -- way back on February 2nd -- I found a little purple post-it note in my backpack. Written on it were some inspirational words from my mother. It was cute and not only made me smile, but it made me miss her and I had only just left her side earlier that day. Well, a few days later I found another post it note with more kind words about me and my trip. Then another few days passed and BAM there was another note inside my backpack pocket.
I took the notes and placed them in my journal so I could see them every time I wrote. I also emailed mom and asked her how many notes she had placed in my luggage. She told me that she thought I had found them all already. Well, she lied to me, because I found another one the other day which I've since been keeping in my wallet with me at all times. As I always say, my mother is one of the kindest, sweetest, most thoughtful people on the planet. Love you, Mom!

More signs and overall oddness...

(PICTURE: A few days ago in Siem Reap this sign was on the back of my door. It's funny, albeit really really sad at the same time.)

Last night was one of my more bizarre experiences in Asia. For a week I have heard people talk about the bar girls at a local establishment called Howie's who are all Connect Four prodigies. As many of you know, I too have dabbled in Connect Four from time to time although it has been about thirteen or fourteen years since I dominated Mike Levy's basement. The only time I've played since getting my driver's license is when I smoked Alex 3-1 in college after he claimed to be unbeatable.
Trea, a former Howie's employee, told me that there was no way I could win a game at Howie's. She told me that what the girls there do is play guys for beers. You win, they buy you a beer. You lose, you buy them a beer. They make the majority of their money by earning a $1 for every beer a guy buys them. These girls were hyped as so good that they play 10:1. If you can win one game before they win ten, then you win.
So, last night Ryan and I headed over to Howie's. Virath, a Languagecorps alumni and now friend of the bar, told the bar girls I wanted my shot at them. Lana, a cute 22 year old who has been working the bar/Connect Four scene for three years, obliged and whipped out a Connect Four set. We began to play and after about two minutes Lana screamed out, "You cheat!" Apparently I had won. This girl was so good she was seeing about ten moves ahead. Well, she was right, I did win. However, my instincts told me this was a trap. She was clearly trying to hustle me for beers. That said, I walked right into it.
I told Lana I wanted to play 10:1 and she agreed. We started to play and I swear, Bobby Fischer took over her body. Within ten minutes she was up six games to none. Six to none! I buckled down and focused and with a little luck I somehow won the seventh game. If I said Lana was pissed it would be the understatement of the year. She was furious. She knocked over the board, bought me a Beer Lao and demanded a rematch at 7:1. I agreed but first sipped my beer as I taunted her...and watched her get madder and madder.
The first game of the next series couldn't have gone better...I WON AGAIN! Lana got even madder as she slammed another beer, which literally comes out of her wages, onto the bar. By this time a crowd gathered around us since Lana is considered the best player in the bar and never loses. So we played again...and I won again! Three beers. Lana called me a cheater again and backed away. Other bar girls were amazed and began to challenge me. I took on Annie, Trea's younger sister and one of the other top players, and beat her too! I was on fire. Before I knew it all the girls were on their cell phones texting away. I didn't find out till the next morning that they were writing Trea things like, "I hate you! Why did you send the foreigner to play us?!"and "You're crazy and cost me my night's wages!" I know this seems a little pompous of me to brag about but it was truly amazing on my behalf. Dare I say the greatest sporting night of my life. The thing is, these girls are SOOOO MUCH BETTER THAN ME at the game. I really was getting very lucky. In the end Lana calmed down and stepped back up to challenge me again. This time she completely kicked my ass seven games to none (although there was one draw in the middle and I had some drunk Norwegian girl yelling in my ear the whole time as to what to do until I turned to her and said, "Would you tell Bobby Fischer where to move his castle?"I thought the reference would work since he was living in Iceland, Norway's kind of close neighbor, when he died but I don't think she got it). I bought Lana her beer and gave her a few dollars tip since I really had cost her her night's wages.
If last night wasn't strange enough, today a bunch of people came up to me and said things to me about my performance at the bar. As I was leaving the house this evening to go to dinner the security guard said to me in broken English, "I hear you are quite clever." I'm a legend.