Friday, 14 July 2017

Phnom Penh Days 2 & 3: More work, sleep, food, and merging into Phnom Penh again

After passing out at 9 pm, I briefly wake up at 1 am and check my e-mail.  

MORE translating work arrived while I slept.  Ah well, I don't really have a reason to complain:   It's income and it can be earned in fabulous surroundings!

6 am.

And there it is again.  The feeling of watching the morning traffic increase over the Mekong from my favourite balcony in the world (so far, but I suspect it's going to keep the lead for  quite a while ;-).  I come to Phnom Penh just for this balcony, LOL. 

And I feel sorry for people staying in Luxury Hotels, because they're never going to experience this simple pleasure for US$ 35/night, LOL.
Imagine the view WITHOUT the Russian Monster Hotel over there !
Looking down, I can see the Vietnamese & American flags flap tiredly side-by-side in the morning breeze.  (Actually, the UN flag is hiddeb behind the palm tree ;-)

What does that make me think of?  Oh right, LOL:

And he does it WELL !   A Karma lesson for Trump?
I veg out until about noonish.  Guess I really needed a holiday.

Freshly awoken from a nap, I have the clarity of mind to consider my options for the next days.   And I decide to forget aobut the Mekong River trip this time.  Spend 6 hours on a boat, get to Chau Doc in the evening, take a bus early in the morning the next day to Saigon, hang out there during the day and take a night train to Quy Nhon?   That would be too much stress, which I don't need right now with 2 translations still in the works.

A quick-stepping dance across the hotel & flight booking sites (I'm good at that, LOL) and I have arranged for a much more relaxing and overall even cheaper itinerary.  It lets me stay in the room connected to my favourite balcony one night longer.  Plus, it allows me to meet a good friend for a Beer in Sai Gon on Saturday evening.   A true win-win situation.

And it adheres to the motto: NEVER see all the sights, so you have a reason to come back !

Flat Rat 
Here is an indicator of high in the sky the sun is (i.e. of how HOT it is). Look at the SIZE of the shadow !
If the shadow where you live is NOT this sharp, then you have filthy air !

By 12:30 I have walked to the fruit market behind the night market to buy oranges, have seen the tiny shadow that I cast , and I'm sitting at La Croissette in front of a Quattro Stagioni Pizza (Actually, it is a Cinque Stagioni today: Anchovies, Artichokes, Mushrooms, Ham, Salami !)  

1:30 pm
Enough food.  Enough work.  Enough wine.  I think it's time to stumble back to the hotel, pay for my extra night, and have a nap.   Never know when today's thundershowers are going to hit !

3:45 pm

Holy !  Another truck ran me down?   Good thing I bought a MEGA-pack of instant coffee tubes !

6 pm

I'm back on the roof for the view, the fish, and the lime & ground pepper sauce.  It doesn't really WHAT you eat if you're dipping it into that green paste ; whatever it is will be fabulous, LOL
The portion is so big though that I can only finish 2 of 3 pieces of fish.  But I go through the original and a refill of the pepper/lime ambrosia !
6:45 pm

WHO the fuck is choosing the music in this Bar.   Does someone want me to jump off the deck from the 6th floor.   George died more than 3 years ago but the songs they are playing back to back still cut like a sharp knife.

It's been a long day without you, my friend
And I'll tell you all about it when I see you again
We've come a long way from where we began
Oh, I'll tell you all about it when I see you again
When I see you again

7:45 pm

I've finished one of the translation.  Now I just have to find a printer and a scanner, LOL.   Easily said if you're staying in a fancy expensive hotel, but not that easy in my chosen abode in Phnom Penh, which has different benefits.

A place with the name of Foreign Correspondents Club (FCC) should have the necessary hardware, shouldn't it?

8:30 pm

The woman working the front desk of the FCC is about 8 months pregnant and amazing.  I tell her my problem, she instantly passes me the FCC WiFi password, and the address to send the e-mail to.   She prints the page, I sign it, she scans the signed page, and e-mails it back to me.   Sounds simple enough, but a major hotel at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris couldn't do it last October. 
I thank my scanning saviour profusely and clandestinely slide US$ 10 in her direction.   Cambodian wages are extremely LOW and she still says "That is not necessary". The smile I get after I insist, point at her belly, and say "it's for the little one" can not be described in words.  

A note to all you over 50 year olds hoarding money for your 'safe retirement':  Face it: Your life is over.  You should have lived it by now.  It's more important to think of children who still have their entire lives ahead of them.

5 am.  NOPE. Way too early.  More sleep.

7 am

WHY can't I WAKE UP?   

Breakfast at 8 doesn't wake me up either.   That only happens after a morning walk after 9 am.   I'm OOW (Out Of Wine).  Need to remedy that so I head towards my favourite family-run mini-mart.

Yes, the bigger ones have a bigger selection but the clerks get minimum wage and the money goes Who-Knows-Where?.   And Who-Knows-Where usually means to someone who shouldn't get it, in particular in Cambodia !

They're out of my usual wine (I wonder WHY, LOL), so after at first grabbing a Spanish Sauv Blanc that turns out to be too expensive, I discover a Spanish Tempranillo Rose.  OMG, that should be spectacular!   Why is it so cheap????

Ah.  No screw top.  It actually has a cork.  No wonder no one wants to buy that.  Not hoping for much success ( I remember my cork-screw-searching odyseey in Saigon a year ago) I ask the owner whether he has a cork screw. HE DOES !!@!!

I hand him the bottle and he starts strangely scraping along the plastic cover over the bottle neck. Then he looks at me and hands me corkscrew and bottle.  LMAO.  This corkscrew has NEVER been used because NO-ONE actually has an idea how to use it.   I take great pleasure slowly and methodically pulling the cork out of my Rose bottle while 3 people can't take their eyes off the Farang while he uses this inexplicable and strange contraption to magically pull the piece of wood out of the wine bottle.   After the cork leaves the bottle neck with a slight PoP, I look up and see three faces with BIG EYES smiling at me. 

I feel like a Missionary, LOL.

Which way to walk back?   That question is quickly answer by the desire to follow a monk with his yellow umbrella open to clandestinely take a picture.  But it doesn't turn out like I had hoped.   I feel anguish about being one of those tourists running with drawn camera after monks.

Walk through the VERY local market?  Oh, yeah!  Zulema already asked me about Stinky Street, so that's what I'll do.
 In this mayhem, I spot two very old people sitting on their haunches with 100 Riel notes in their hand (100 Riel = 2.5 cents).  My wallet is in my backpack so I walk by the old man at first.  There are NO Westerners in these market aisles except me.  Then I witness Cambodians, who are poor enough as it is, handing money to an old woman in the next aisle. 
Freshly slaughtered cattle right next to apparel?  Why not, LOL
 BLUSH!  If Cambodians can part with some of their money, then I really have NO excuse.  
I get out my wallet, backtrack to the old man, and get rid of almost all my local Riel currency.  
I don't think I'll be able to forget the look in his eyes for quite a while.  

It's indeterminate. 

This man was here when the US illegally dropped ordinance on Cambodia.  He was here when Pol Pot marched the inhabitants of Phnom Penh into the country side or killed them.   He was here during the civil war following Vietnam's intervention to finally get rid of Pol Pot. 

I'm afraid that all those young children in Syria, Iraq, Lybia and the other places like it will have that same look in their eyes if they manage to get old.

Oh, but that's right:  Y'all want to drive your cars, so I guess all those miserable children in those places are just a necessity of life .....


Work is progressing smoothly and the Spanish Tempranillo is vanishing way too quickly.  Time for another shopping trip.  I also shouldn't let the chance of buying another carton of cigarettes for US$ 5 pass me by since I know that smokes are more expensive in Vietnam.  And then maybe another peppery fish on the roof?  Good plan.

I step out of the hotel door and there is that same Tuk Tuk driver again that I've noticed over the last few years. This must be his spot.  Earlier this morning I told him that he can drive me to the airport at exactly noon tomorrow.  I know that these guys are DIRT-POOR.  I'm guessing that at least half of them don't have a home and sleep in their vehicles at night.   Most of them are happy if they make $5 per day.  

He's offering to drive me anywhere 'For Cheap'.  He points out that he hasn't had a fare yet today.  But I don't want to take a Tuk-Tuk now.  So I do what no 'normal' person does (Hey, I pride myself of not being 'normal' in that sense ;-). I hand him $5 and tell him that tomorrow at noon we will deduct that from the fare to the airport.

Will he be there tomorrow?   We will find out. I'd rather lose a bit of money once in a while than turn into a person who trusts no-one.  

And when I come back from my little shopping trip, he is still sitting in his cart in front of the hotel waiting for business.  

Time to hit the Bank machine again.  Phnom Penh is not as cheap as Bangkok. I still haven't figured out exactly why that is ...

A truly ancient woman (she is at least 80) is squatting on the sidewalk with her hands stretched out.  

My favourite Phnom Penh street.  I call it Cigarette Street, because this is where I get my US$ 4.75 CARTON of smokes.
Westerners? Here?  Rarely ! This is where Cambodians live and shop.
 Next:  Back to my mini-mart to buy yet another bottle of Tempranillo (NO, the other one is not empty yet, but you know ....)
They're getting a delivery right now, so they don't take me up on my offer that THEY should use the corkscrew on the bottle this time.  Delivery or not,  again 3 sets of eyes are glued to the hands of the Farang using that strange device, LOL.

Next:  Back to my mini-mart to buy yet another bottle of Tempranillo (NO, the other one is not empty yet, but you know ....)
They're getting a delivery right now, so they don't take me up on my offer that THEY should use the corkscrew on the bottle this time.  Delivery or not,  again 3 sets of eyes are glued to the hands of the Farang using that strange device, LOL.

Time to head to the roof-top bar for some grub and wine.    I've had the same thing every single evening now.  There are rarely any other guests.  HOW could they get my order wrong?  It don't matter; I'm getting my lime-pepper elysium with two refills and that makes the chicken they bring taste just as good as the fish, LOL.

I'm checking for the preadvertised Air China seat sale again.  BLANK. They want double what has been advertised.  But at least this way I get Zulema's consent (in writing) to travel to these parts with me next January. 
LOL. Gotta watch out for those sneaky Germans !   
But we're the perfect travel duo in these parts here and she really fits in here and enjoys it tremendously, so I can justify the slight exertion of pressure to myself.


I'm full.  I'm tipsy.  Too bad that I'm tired too.  Or maybe that's just AGE I'm feeling?

Here is A Little Something to set the mood for tomorrow ;-)

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