Wednesday, February 27, 2008

LAST NIGHT IN CAMBODIA: A Vietnamese dinner with Toe

Part 1: Jumping from the virtual world

So it was our last night in Phnom Penh.

And what could be a better way of spending our final night than having our last dinner with a fellow blogger, Toe. Yes, I have mentioned her here quite a few times ever since we started this Indochina adventure. But way before I started visiting and commenting in her blog, I used to be a frequent lurker since I kinda see myself traveling in that part of the world one day. And knowing that she is a Filipino working there helped me a lot, particularly in getting a first glimpse of how it is living there. But little did I know that I will one day meet her in person.

I did tell her that we will travel via Phnom Penh going to Ho Chi Minh City. But I didn’t quite expect that she would actually invite us to meet her. Honestly, I was flattered. But I was hesitant too. I haven’t actually met someone from the virtual world and the idea of actually meeting someone from that world is still a strange idea to me. No, don’t get me wrong, I am ecstatic to meet Toe I just don’t know if she would be thrilled to meet me. I just hate disappointing people especially those who have prior notion of me (physically, mentally, spiritually). I might not be the person they thought I would be. And that’s a real spank on the ass, to tell you the truth.

The thing about blogging is that, people read your thoughts without judgment, just an honest-to-goodness curiosity that other people may really find interesting or useful for them. What I am trying to say is that, there are no expectations. This is because at the back our minds, we never really entertain the idea that one day, we will actually see these people in the flesh and that we have to make a solid, good impression on them. Okay, this is just me and my thoughts. I don’t know about you, but I have always looked at blogging not merely as an outlet but also as an extension of myself. And being at that, you somehow expose yourself to a certain "risk" that the people you know in real life will read your thoughts and haunt you back. A vulnerable stage.

As an apathetic blog reader, you merely rely on what kind of information is being fed to you, and that’s where the clout of the blogger comes in. You form an image on the bases of that. And it sticks to you, no matter how shallow they maybe.

So anyhow, I have gotten over this ‘groundless anxiety’ and decided to embark on my first blogger eyeball (EB). Toe actually wrote a very engaging entry on our first meeting in her blog.

Part 2: Meeting Toe

Like any first meeting, I had my own thoughts on what Toe would actually look like in person. This is crazy but I was in a real deep thought that night, sitting at the corner of the guesthouse's lobby while waiting for her to arrive. Oki was reading a magazine at the other end of the seat looking so cool about it. Between the two of us, she handles this kind of situation more unfussy. She’s good with people (conversing most especially).

I was in an awe thinking how the hell am I going to introduce myself and how to reassure her that I am not a bad person. I really have the weirdest thoughts when I am anxious. I feel really edgy meeting people on the first day because this is where “first impressions” are formed and usually, people get the wrong impression of me during the first meeting. This is precisely the reason why I am not fond of EBs and blind dates. Also, I am really shy and I am not a very sociable person. But I get over that once I know the person really well. Most of my close friends are those that I didn’t get along (so) well during our first meetings. They usually have the wrong impressions of me and vice versa.

Toe arrived in a cozy-looking Hyundai Tucson. She was wearing a skirt and a blouse and she had this little, cute clip on her hair. As I approached her, she belted from the window of her car something like: “Rayts!?” The greeting was so warm that it really put me to an ease.

She looked exactly like what I have imagined. Pretty much close. Chinita-looking, fair skin, and really pretty. Her fair skin made me look like a real nog-nog having a sunburnt skin due to our travels in Siem Reap the previous days. Amputi ni Toe nagmukha tuloy akong Kirara sa kaitiman! And may I just say she’s prettier than Bea Lucero! No wonder her honey is so patay na patay to her! Well, I am biased as I have special affinity for Chinese-looking people.

Part 3: A Vietnamese dinner

Toe drove us to a Vietnamese Hole-in-Wall resto, I believe it’s their favorite restaurant. The place was not crowded which was good and I for once, felt I was already in Vietnam having those skinny Vietnamese waitress clad in ao dai greeting us.

Digging from Toe’s previous blog entry, this Vietnamese resto is called An Nam which I don’t know the meaning of. Talking about “ideas and concepts that jumped out from the virtual world” I found it odd that we’re actually dramatizing a somewhat scene from Toe’s entry. We often read about this particular resto and the food there in her blog entries.

Toe ordered ca kho me, a fat fish in caramel and tamarind which we savored in all its goodness! It was really, really rich in flavor. We also had chicken pho complete with lemon, herbs, and bean sprouts; and of course spring rolls! To top it all, we had Vietnamese coffee with milk which was wickedly bitter and sweet. Oki loved the food and the coffee that we tried finding them again when we were in Vietnam. We had the ca phe sua da but we couldn’t find any ca kho me simply because we don’t know how to say it.

Here are some photos. Not really a top notch. I am not as good as Ferdz when it comes to food photography. I didn't use a flash and my hands were shaking. :-(

chicken pho

I am basically a chicken and noodle lover so much so that I enjoyed this chicken pho. Pho 24, the one in Rockwell, has perhaps the best chicken pho, next to the authentic one I had in Vietnam.

ca kho me

Ca kho me, a fat fish in caramel and tamarind. Toe's favorite. Our favorites.

spring rolls

Spring rolls! We ordered spring rolls in Phoa Hoa and the taste and the coating were not the same. Even the texture and the presentation.

rice and herbs
Rice and herbs. I love their sticky rice and their fresh garnishing.

Toe paid our bill, which made me sank to my seat. Oki and I promised a payback dinner when she comes back in the country. :-D

After making our stomach happy, Toe gave us a ride in her Hyundai Tucson with a Bon Jovi music at the background, which was the coolest. She gave us a night tour and brief background of Phnom Penh. She and Oki were talking most of the time while we were having the tour. I enjoyed looking at the city which was totally different at night having all those colorful lights and sights.

Thank you Toe for this wonderful experience. :-)



lino said...

mukhang masasarap nga ah... :)

Ferdz said...

Well that turned out pretty well. I guess you can never take out the anxiousness sometimes when people first meet. There are "expectations" and the best thing to do is not having them. Before I really wouldn't want my identity hidden to the world pero lately malabo na yun. There are some people I hit off easily on first meet and there are others that don't I guess yun na yung tawag nila na "Vibes". Hahaha

Wow! na-alala mo pa description ni Toe nun ha. I guess she's a real beauty rin from my visual impression of her.

haggis basher said...

Ohhh..... I'm hungry now!!

Looks very tasty food.

Its a pity this trip is over, I enjoyed it, thanks for sharing.

Sidney said...

You are lucky to have met Toe!
(There are people who are more shy than you... I would probably not have told her I was around...)

I don't know Toe but I like her sense of humor (in her blog)!
Too bad this was the last day in Cambodia!
What is next? ;-)

kyels said...

The photos are a little shaky pero I can still see what they looked like. I've never had chicken pho before and have always wanted to try it.


pieterbie said...

This is one of the best posts I have ever read on you blog, Rayts, you seem to get better all the time.

You try to make us believe that you are really such a shy girl, but then you go naked in the detailed and very personal description of yourself. Now there is a contradiction I won’t comment any further on. I don’t want to risk you having me and maybe never wanting to meet up with me IRL.

Love the way you describe your anxiety to meet this virtual friend. Love your description of Toe as well, even though I must confess that I have no idea what “Chinita-looking” looks like, ah, does this mean “Chinese look”?
But, OK, I get the picture: Toe looks good.

I’ve never really met any blogger friends IRL, except the people from the photo clubs I joined, first BelgiumDigital and then the HFC. I still belong to the latter. But then one of the objectives of HFC is to meet and we just use the internet to share our digitally gathered prey.

There is this one woman from Antwerp I mail, we actually “met” in a chatbox about 8 to 9 years ago. I’ve been mailing her ever since, one of her sons is the boy I posted something for on February 26. We have never met, we have seen photos of each other, and I guess neither of us would mind if we did meet up, but then we wouldn’t mind if we didn’t. Now isn’t that just the most comfortable status? If I were to meet her, I guess it would be very emotional, because of the things we have shared and in particular the events that have passed since our e-meeting, not in the least the loss of her son back in 2001.

I think it is just great that you met up with Toe, an opportunity not to be missed, I would say. I know I would do it if I had the chance. If I ever come your way, I will suggest that we meet. Up to you, of course, if you choose to do so or not. It is a free world. Not that I have any plans in that direction, anyway, Thailand has always been on my list because of the temples and its natural beauty (and I’m not referring to the beauties in the Bangkok nightlife, I’m not that kind of tourist). And of course: China. I missed an opportunity there some years ago, a unique one, but I just couldn’t match it with my professional agenda.

Love the food as well, must have been great!

Toe said...

Hey, sisingilin kita sa payback dinner ha. :)

But really, awwww... I'm so happy with this post because seriously, I also had this "groundless anxiety" before I met you. :) Added to that... I was frightfully late! :)

But I'm so glad that all three of us thoroughly enjoyed each other.

I'm also glad you liked the food... now, I want to have lunch there again... nagutom sa pictures. :)

You're always thanking me about what a wonderful time you had... but really, I ought to be the one to thank you. I had a blast as well and I'm so happy to have met the two of you. :)

Oh darn... tapos na yung Cambodia series. :)

my gulch said...

yea, they are delicious. and my taste bud has gotten (so) used to with the spicy foods.

i don't know if we'll be able to get rid of the "expectation/s" part but i think it's inherent to people. expecting even though we shouldn't. your identity hidden? haha. even if you chose to be anonymous, you will be spotted epecially with your fans/stalkers around.

oh yea, remembering what Toe looked like that night was the easiest. one tends to be particularly keen during the first meeting that one remembers even the slightest remark. if i had my notes with me, i would be able to record how many times I asked Oki about the clock or counted how many time the guy at the lobby passed us a look. But then, that's not necessary.

howdee? thanks for always taking the time to read. i have two more travelogues to share though, my trips in Vietnam and Singapore. :-D

I was lucky alright. I was thinking, if Toe was a man, will I be able to meet up with her? my answer, hmmm...i really dunno. I would have been scared to death or worst, I might not have come at all and reasoned that I have diarhea. some lousy excuses I could come up with. hehehe!

I still have two more travelogues waiting to be posted.

really shaky! i just don't want to spoil the evening by taking so much of the time taking photos of the food. been wanting to eat them since they were served to us. chicken pho is the best especially with more chilli and lemon in it.

haha! thanks for the comments.
but I am shy. Really. The only time I could go on the "naked details" of everything is when I write them down. and i rarely talk during the first meeting. i have what my mother refered to as the "muscun syndrome" (our local term for the 'unsociable') and it usually takes time to get over with. there was even a time in my childhood that I literally hid in the closet just because i fear seeing people. and mind you, these people are my cousins. i dunno why but i should have visited a shrink during the early manifestations of this syndrome but i just thought of it then, as something normal. slowly, i am getting used to people. afterall, my job requires socializing and interacting with people. otherwise, i should have just fled and live inside a cave.

yes, chinita-looking means chinese-looking (for female). i noticed that most europeans wanted to visit Thailand more than any other SE Asian country. maybe because it has all. temples, beaches, interesting people, nice architecture, etc. but then again, we also have that here, although, i must say, we tend to be a little 'notorious' in other aspects. China is the place to visit this 2008. very rich in culture. i would love to get there one day.

hahaha. o shure. handang-handa na nga nga kami sa payback dinner. we enjoyed the food, really enjoyed it that remembering how they tasted like, seems like it all happened in a dream now. but more than the food, I enjoyed meeting you in person. i wish we could have met your Honey too but like you said, seems like he has the same syndrome as mine. hope everything is well. salamat talaga!

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