I must confess, the likelihood that I would trek across any city at 11 pm to sit in a crowded, stuffy bar to watch a soccer/football game would usually be very low. However, because I work with European teammates who are very likely to ride across a dark city to a hot and stuffy bar to watch soccer/football games all night, I decided to try and “fit in” during this World Cup season. Besides, will I ever again have the opportunity to watch the World Cup in Phnom Penh with a bunch of Europeans and Cambodians? [Who knows!]
The bar that we frequented to watch games, Score Bar (pictured below), was a large bar with a loft and an open wall to the outside, yet still ended up being hot and extremely crowded almost every game. My favorite games were when Holland played because the crowd was often a sea of orange. Also Dutch people are often really tall, and it is so fascinating to be surrounded by a bunch of really tall people!
Because some of my teammates are German I frequented a lot of Germany games and actually predicted early on that the would win the Cup (SERIOUSLY!!). I’m no soccer expert, but for some reason I couldn’t shake the feeling that they were going to progress far into the tournament (of course I wouldn’t be writing this if they hadn’t won…).
On the night of the final we decided to ditch the bar and go join the masses of Cambodians who gathered at the riverside to watch the game. A massive screen had been set up behind a stage on which we were entertained by Khmer singers and dancers for the hours leading up to the match. I can’t imagine what the placid Cambodians surrounding us thought of our little lone group of white people dancing and cheering during the concert (apparently dancing and cheering during a concert isn’t a thing in Cambodia).
Of course the highlight of the night was when my favorite player scored the winning goal! But a close second highlight was having a snarky little Cambodian guy try and inch his hand closer and closer under my friend’s skirt as we sat on the ground and watched the game, thinking we weren’t paying attention to how close we were packed next to people. The poor little guy had such a cute face we couldn’t even be upset at his creepiness.
From a non-avid soccer fan, yet again the game has proven to be one that brings masses of people together. The moral of this story is to try things that you usually aren’t very likely to try…you really may end up having the best time of your life!