Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Dead Fish Bar/Restaurant, Siem Reap, an emotional watershed

We had some time to kill before the glorious night market opened so we took refuge inside this bar and restaurant called the Deadfish. Don't know what compelled us inside as it had a really dilapidated facade and building materials cluttering the entry (we both agreed later that it had an amenable ring of familiarity like it had been written up in the hotel guidebook or something).

Constructed from reclaimed timbers, sheathed in corrugated iron, sat on slabs of concrete, the Deadfish is a tall, dark A-frame with four floating mezzanine floors (vertiginous dining areas). A neat trick I never considered for expediting snacks are these trays fixed to diagonal beams delivering drinks from the bar to levels 2-4 via a system of pulleys (the kitchen has its own food lift).

Architecturally Deadfish recalled one of those optical illusion prints by Escher (as in you turn the building inside out and shake it and it's not too different) that are popular with 19 year-olds who are into crystals and Frank Black solo records. The darkness and use of timbers give it a more rustic, log cabin feel as opposed to some airy-fairy print. We were super stoked.

Now whoever said Angkor draft was no fun needs to have their esophagus keg-tested by Deadfish inc. The two pints I drained were effervescent, full-bodied, luscious, thirst-quenching, drippy, runny and damn tasty.

After a couple of those, I had a look around and in one section I noticed a creepy amphibian trawling the shallow waters for lichen under the sub-floor of the guesthouse of which there are rooms for rent at reasonable rates. We were warned not to get too close to the fucker because they'll rip your arm off. A one metre gap of dryland between the creature and the short fence stood a statue of a miniature croc. Some stairs nearby led to a toilet were I had an agreeable number one and returned to the landing near the stairs.

It's a little hard to describe on an emotional level what happened next but needless to say on the far wall what I thought was a concrete crocodile was a real one and I was certain of this once it winked at me. De Campo exited the loo too and nearly crapped herself when it yawned in her personal vicinity. Only a short knee high fence separated us from this magnificent survivor of yesteryear. Five emerged from the depths of the sub-floor when plates of fish were brandished. We ended up feeding them two plates of guppies. It was a lot like feeding dogs, but more fun. Evidently these dudes live under the guesthouse, which was built on a crocodile farm. They have to keep them there or else they'll be turned into wallets.

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