Scenes from a beachside restaurant

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There is a certain indulgence in losing an afternoon to a book and a lively atmosphere. It is something that I have not had enough of on this trip, and something that Sihanoukville has offered up to us in spades. Our regular restaurant is a lazy beachside establishment with little focus on service or on making money for that matter. It is here that we’ve abandoned a measurable number of hours, ordering coconuts from the 4 year old daughter of the owner. She is a smiley little girl who has spent just as many hours staring at us and mindlessly smearing the leftover pieces of her afternoon durian snack on our table. On the occasions that I do look up from my book to acknowledge her, she timidly runs away into the arms of a nearby family member- clearly yet to have mastered the art of table service, but noticeably the only one in the room who comes to check on us.

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I like this place. I like the anonymity of it, and the food isn’t bad either. The staff generally spends more time socializing with the squid vendors that pass by then the people patronizing the place. Moreover, they don’t seem to mind how long you stay, or how little you order in that time. We’ve seen people sit down on the round wicker beachfront chairs and order food only from passing street vendors. It’s endlessly entertaining. It’s something you’d never see in the states.

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Restaurant ownership here is not the high stress, high failure rate equation that exists elsewhere. There is a beauty to it that makes me long for things to be less complicated at home. I do not know how long it will be before someone who works here comes to check on us, but I do know that we’ll be back tomorrow- to take in the same beach scene and the same comical moments we’ve already witnessed. And to appreciate the rarity of a popular beach community still so focused on living life above making another penny.

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