Tastes Like Chicken

At an alley restaurant in Siem Reap, this plate of ginger snake was somewhat uninspiring — tough and chewy, not-so-gingery — and, yes, tasted like chicken. On the bright side, before leaving the restaurant I purchased a plate of fried rice for a dusty, barefoot boy who had been going table to table begging, unsuccessfully, for money. His hunger was tangible, a queasy pang in my gut. When his simple meal arrived, he called over another beleaguered-looking boy and the two of them ate with a diligent intensity reserved only for the truly famished. Strangely, the act left me simultaneously buoyed and weighed down: happy to have a couple dollars to help out, but helpless to do anything more practical than purchase a plate of rice.

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Mui Ne to Phan Rang-Thap Cham