Friday, 13 January 2017

Arkoon Karma ! (HKG to PNH) A return to Phnom Penh

The 2.5 hour flight is absolutely uneventful. Maybe that is true, or maybe I just miss all the excitement because I keep nodding off.

6 pm

Time for the usual avoiding the taxis and tuk-tuk offers INSIDE the airport grounds.  And as soon as we approach the gate to the public street I see the guy organizing customers for the OUTSIDE tuk-tuk drivers.  He is waving with a huge grin.  Zu gets to climb into her very first tuk-tuk very soon after that and we hit the congested rush-hour roads.   The dust whirled up by the countless tires and the exhaust combine into something that haves me coughing in less than 5 minutes.

Hottie on High Heels !

When we get to the hotel, the usual receptionist is there and greets me with a recognizing smile and a coquette little hand wave.  Now that I have watched the South-Korean Kung-fu/ transgender thriller Man on High Heels again, I finally realize who the receptionist reminds me of, LOL.

6:45 pm

Then it goes downhill for a while.  They did it AGAIN.  IT being double-booking my room.  Worse, they have NO other river-view balcony room available tonight.  When I was here in November, they at least 'only' double booked a room that I arranged verbally. But this time they managed to NOT have a room available that I reserved on THREE WEEKS AGO.

Ah well, I do lose my cool for a second, not verbally but by stumbling over the tiled step at the entrance of Star Bar and landing with all my weight (and that of my backpacks) flatly on my two knee-caps.  WOW, this trip IS hard on my bones, LOL,a broken knee-cap is JUST the thing I need to RUIN this trip. Strangely enough, I just get up again and it doesn't even hurt. 

Why am I in the Star Bar?  Because I'm tired and i have to book a hotel for tonight NOW ! A glass of wine will help.  The owner is very apologetic and offers me a room in the back, but I know that I'll be awake at 4 am and that there is no balcony, so I respectfully decline and book at another Riverside hotel with a balcony.   I had bought an entire bottle of wine (I learned last time that this is cheaper than buying glasses) and when we go check in at the other hotel just ask them to put it back in the fridge until we're back ;-)

9:30 pm.  We're sitting in Star Bar and I'm staring at the moon across the Mekong.   HOLY SHIT. It's a FULL moon AGAIN ! That means that I've sat in this exact same spot EXACTLY two MOONS ago, LOL

11 pm.  Having a travel companion has a HUGE effect on overcoming jet lag.  But this was enough for one day.

4 am.  Did I sleep so poorly because of all the wine I drank or because the excitement of being back in Phnom Penh?   I don't know; who cares; I'm back in Phnom Penh, LOL

5:30 am. Zu keeps asking when the sunrise will happen.  Shouldn't it at least be brighter at the horizon?  I mumble something about the brightening happening much more rapidly the closer one is to the equator, but secretly ask myself whether today's sunrise was canceled.

But then the horizon brightens, quickly as I had predicted.  Zu tries to keep up as I rush down the stairs to the promenade.

I simply can't get tired of this !

At this time I make another error in judgement when I pronounce that today there are too many clouds for a proper sunrise today.  We head into the backstreets to buy cigarettes (I buy a carton for US$ 5 and when I say arkoon, the old vendor lady all of a sudden smiles and hands me a free cigarette lighter with a bottle opener built in), a bottle of wine (they make them small these days, LOL), and shavers (5 double-bladed BIC shavers for $1.30; No more of those horribly expensive Gilette 7 blade vibrators that glow in the dark for me anymore because the BIC shaves just as close ;-). 

Already on the way back to the river promenade, the changing colour of the sky tells me that I was WRONG about the sunrise.

Phnom Penh has me captured again.  The heat, the sunrises, the smiles !

NO idea what is going on here ;-(


We checked out of the interim hotel.  While waiting in the lobby for them to check the room, a rather tall and skinny young female'hotel employee whom I had seen a few times before turns to me and gives me a grin.  I grin back because I just realized that it's a guy and that I've seen that guy in another hotel before on my first visit.   

I tell Zu that her Christian missionary sister would fall to her knees and raise a crucifix against the infidels. She just says NO and says that everything is normal here.  My suspicion is confirm when I tell her that the woman was a man and her jaw drops to the floor.  

1 pm
Back at Star Bar, waiting for the room to be ready.  To shorten the time we ordered this chicken soup.  OMG, this is REAL food.  Freshly cooked by the owner's mother, a myriad spices and flavours bouncing around the mouth.  This is Zulema's first taste of 'real' Asian food and she takes to local cuisine like a fish to water (and red cheeks) when she spoons the last drop of the diabolical concoction out of the bowl.  
Sunburn or spicy food ?
3:30 pm
We have returned from the Royal Cambodian Railway Station where we got tickets for seats # 1 and # 2 in the train that runs on Saturday.   I took the same train two months ago, but this time a tickets goes for US$8 instead of 7 bucks.  
I'm becoming aware how out of shape the last month of icy bicycle-free weather in Vancouver has made me.  6 km of walking and my thighs are aching and my ankles are swollen.  WOW, old age is less and less fun.  But at least  the Vancouver ice age should have abated by the time I get back in February and I'll be able to ride a bike again.

6:30 pm

Oooohhhh.  That was a goooood nap !   I had turned on the a/c before laying down and when I wake up and wobble onto the balcony the full moon seems to float in the hot and muggy tropical darkness.  Ahhh. Cambodia, it's good to be back ;-)

7:30 pm 

We have a pet.

Last item of the day is an excursion to the night market (I'd never been there at night, LOL). Zu finds great stuff, a pants-skirt for $5 and nice sandals for $8.  I continue my auto-didactic quest to NOT buy anything, although I must admit that I stop SEVERAL times at the stands selling watches. The actually have NICE ones, but then I do have more than enough watches !

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