Everyone here knows it by it’s other name: The Fake Starbucks.

Shortly after our arrival in Phnom Penh last year, we were ecstatic to discover a sign that looked like Starbucks. We thought we had found our escape from eating dirty/ weird food, and a real coffee joint at last.

As with most everything else here that appears “western”, it didn’t take long to realize it was just another facade.

And yet, oddly enough, we continue to go back. Why?

There was the time I sat at a table eating, when something several tables down caught my eyes. It was a rat going from table to table jumping into the little plastic waste baskets for 5 seconds or so at a time.

Then there was the time one of the teacher assistants joining us had just gotten her stew delivered – only to find a fly had been cooked into the culinary delight.

Hairs in our food? Happens everywhere – this is a non-factor.

And then today. As we sat finishing off our meals, we heard a screech from behind us at the doorway. There, before my eyes, was a waitress jumping up and down like a frightened girl, while another was patting herself on the back for having just grabbed a mouse with a pair of salad tongs. I tried to get my wife to look and she told me to shut up – she still had a few bites left.

Tomorrow, the Terrance is opening a new store CLOSE TO SCHOOL!! We’re both very excited about that. I kid you not – we actually are. If anyone is able to explain the spell this place puts on an expat, please let me know. I may be able to find a counter-spell.