This article does not have the same intense flavour as the one about Mike’s Burgers encounter, but the end result of the meeting turned out to be just that – the run.
The event took place four days after Kenneth and I had got mutually paralised by the unexpected at Mike’s Burgers, and this meeting was brief and silent. By the way, Mike’s burgers are huge and tasty, if somewhat loaded in an American, over the top sort of way. I met Mike the day after, for reasons I would not disclose here.
I spent the remaining days in the bungalow by the beach, with the temperature from the cold despite the perpetual Cambodian heat and lots of hot tea. By Saturday I felt a little better. I had already made friends with one of The Square vendors who helped me to push my broken bike all the way ‘home’, except they got the place wrong, and the bike ended up spending the night in a completely different location. I thought I would never see it again, but found it the next morning on Otres 2 beach. Things like that are common occurance in Cambodia.
This time I wanted to check out the Golden Lions Plaza, another girlie bar complex on Poulowai Street a few hundred metres away from the Golden Lions roundabout. I arrived to the complex around nine and parked the bike by the entrance. I don’t have my own photo of the place, this one below was taken from sihanoukville-cambodia.com.
The Golden Lions Plaza is a place of about ten bars, all with pool tables, TV sets, girls and plenty of cheap booze. Recently it has been renamed into Pub Street, but people still prefer to call it the old name, seems more fitting to where it is located.
I have to say I don’t drink much alcohol. One pint can last me an entire evening, and even that is bought because one has to buy something in these places. Not a good customer for bar owners.
Neither does Kenneth (Jed). He once told me he very seldom gets drunk, and I know this is, in fact, true. Alcohol and drugs are not Ken’s choice of addiction.
As I parked my bike and was walking through the entrance into the little lane lined with bars on each side, I saw Kenneth. He and Chris were playing pool in the very first bar on the right, called ‘The Ship Wreck’. He looked lively and alert, very much into the game. As I was walking past, he immediately spotted me. We looked at each other, I slowly moved my head as if saying ‘no’, put my arms up in the manner of ‘I give up’ and went further past the bar entrance towards other bars inside the lane.
It was my first time there. I walked about for a few minutes, looking at the setup, then returned to the main entrance and walked into the bar opposite from the one where Jed was.
There are no proper walls dividing the bars, more of a low fence type installation. I sat down by one of the tables with two bargirls. One of the girls was using a hair straightener, running it through the hair of another girl, getting ready for the evening; things are pretty informal here. As I mentioned it was only around nine, the bars were empty as the action starts later in the evening. I began chatting with the girls, one of whom had a decent level of English (most bargirls have very little). I wasn’t looking across the fence to see what Chris or Jed were doing, keenly aware that they know I am here. A few minutes passed. Then I lifted my head, looked towards the entrance and saw Ken’s back with the pool cues case hanging off it. He was driving off fast (again!).
I shrugged my shoulders and stayed in the bar for the next hour or so. The thoughts were running, one of them ‘Here comes the run again (I could even sing it to the tune of Eurythmics ‘Here comes the rain again’)……… ‘One of us is crazy, and it ain’t me’. I also thought that out of all encounters two happened to be in girlie bars, and perhaps this is how guys spend their time here, and Kenneth has plenty of free time. Then I got up ready to go, the girls promised to teach me how to play pool next time, I said ‘good bye’ to them and left. I met one of them again on my last visit to Snooky, but I had company with me and we didn’t play.
At that point I still had no idea about Jed’s real legal name. However, by the time I met him in Phnom Penh a month later– it had materialised, and soon after I got a solid confirmation.