Siem Reap Hydrant

After we left Saigon, I didn’t see many hydrants. Partly this is because, while we were on the boat trip, we visited small villages that didn’t really have “running water” much less fire spigots. But even in Phnom Phen, the capital of Cambodia, I didn’t notice any. I figured I had just overlooked them because I had been distracted by all that we were seeing and doing the day we spent there.

On the other hand, I’m pretty damn good at noticing dem hydrants.

For a while, in Siem Reap, I thought I was going to have the same problem. Maybe I wouldn’t find one in all of Cambodia. And can you imagine that failure? What the hell was I going to tell all of you? I started to panic.

And then I found this one. It was right near an ATM machine where our tuk-tuk driver took us to get cash. (American cash, by the way. Cambodia mostly trades in American dollars and American dollars are what the ATM machines dole out. You typically only see the Cambodian riel if you’re getting back change for less than a US dollar. There are no coins.)

For the next day and a half, we traveled around Siem Reap quite a bit, mostly via tuk-tuk. We went to “Pub Street,” the popular place for tourists to go for shopping/food. We took a street-food tour of the city on the back of Vespa scooters.

I never saw another hydrant, except at the airport.

I was still kind of ashamed about all of this. I reckoned I’d been too busy taking photos of temples and markets and eating bugs and I’d lost my touch at spotting the ubiquitous fireplug. But then when I got home I Googled “Phnom Phen fire hydrant” and found this article from September which indicated that there were actually only a couple hundred fire hydrants in the entire city. And I found another article from 1994 which seemed to indicate that, at that time, there were no fire hydrants. And I suppose this doesn’t really surprise me, given what we learned about Cambodia on the trip and how badly the country was set back by the Khmer Rouge.

It also doesn’t surprise me because I’m goddamned good at spotting fire hydrants. It was ridiculous for me to doubt myself.



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