Sorry it's been so long since posting; I've been out in the provinces, moving into a new apartment, and generally just being exhausted.
The last place I left off was around July 1st and 4th, two days of rather loud, patriotic North American celebrations.
And now, dear readers, you'll have to help decide which independence day, American or Canadian, was the superior celebration. Canada Day was first up, and for us took place at a local sports bar that had hired an Irish band (?) to play songs, and had a giant PowerPoint presentation of well, Canada. It included pictures of Toronto, British Columbia, Quebec, different government buildings and cultural centers. Oddly, there was one slide of a giant wolf randomly inserted in between photos of the Toronto CN Tower and Parliament (think majestic, leaping wolf t-shirts worn by the Dungeons and Dragons kids in middle school).
About halfway through the evening, one of the Canadian kids attempted to enter a beer-drinking contest. I say attempted, because when the bell rang to begin he stood their sipping it like it was afternoon tea, while some big, burly, fresh-from-logging-and/or-clubbing-baby-seals guy beside him finished in 30 seconds. He still walked away with an Angkor shirt and hat, which, given that Angkor's company colors are red and yellow, made him look like he was working the drive-thru window at McDonald's.
After a few beers (Corona, by the way. I was an American at a Canada Day party drinking Mexican beer, thus safely representing the whole continent at once), we decided to call it a night.
Here are some pics of us celebrating all things Canadian. Arielle, I hope you're proud:
Nick yet again blinking in a photo:
4th of July
Now let's juxtapose the rather calm Canada Day with the massive July 4th party at the American embassy. We all bought tickets weeks in advance, and had to go through a background check to even get in the door. Cooler bouncer system? Check. There was a live band, which the Canadians were quick to point out was playing Canadian artists (is Celine Dion's "My Heart Will Go On" the new "My Country Tis of Thee"?). We had face painting, bbq, burritos, cheeseburgers, KFC (the only American fast food restaurant in the country), and ice cream. Beer, including American brands, was everywhere. There was even the latest John Deer tractor on display for pictures. Not. Kidding.
I have no clue who these people are, but they're on the tractor:
A stage was set up for a pie-eating contest, and members from the Battambang circus performed acrobatics throughout the evening. At one point, while I was watching some of the acrobats, I got into a conversation about the circus with a lovely woman eating some vanilla ice cream. It took me about a minute to realize she was actually the ambassador.
Some of the group:
The Canadians we brought the 4th of July (yes, those are maple leaves painted on their cheeks):
Cambodian Uncle Sam awkwardly pointing at my chest (right in front of the Cambodian Democrats for Obama stand):
Battambang circus acrobats:
At one point, while I was standing around talking to some buddies, a Cambodian man ran up to me and asked if he could take his picture with me. I looked behind him, and saw a group of Cambodians with cameras waiting. Feeling very much like a giant mouse in a theme park, I said sure. When the rest of my group saw what was happening, they jumped in the photo too, which encouraged the other Cambodians to join in, which culminated in a photo shoot involving around 15 people. I'm trying to find more pictures of this, but don't have any on my camera so will have to wait until later when I grab them from someone else. Just wanted to write this down now, so I'll remember what it feels like to be a tourist attraction in my own right.
So vote: Canada Day or 4th of July??