Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Cambodian Cuisine

I really hate goodbyes, especially when you want to spend more time with someone who you don't know if or when you will ever see them again.  Today, we were venturing on our own again.  We were just about to head off for breakfast when there was a knock at the door - Tania and Frank clutching two glasses.  Was Happy Hour starting early?  No, they just wanted to make sure that we would not be charged for the missing tooth glasses and to accompany us to breakfast.

No gravy boat holding the milk today and as much yoghurt as you could consume. Hurrah for being early.  We made our promises to keep in touch and to meet up in 2015.  They had better keep to that or I shall be most upset.

Time moved swiftly.  Our vehicle arrived.  Very grand with leather seats befitting his Lordship.  Tears welled in our eyes as we hugged and kissed.  I waved and blew kisses until I could see them no more.  So sad.

We learned about the unusual life story of our guide.  He was married but his wife's parents did not approve as he came from a village family who were poor.  So, the parents sent his wife to live and work in Japan.  He saw her a few months ago when they had a 'honeymoon' day.  He was working and saving hard in the hope that he can provide a home for his wife in the future.  I felt so sorry for him UNTIL he kept getting text messages from a young woman who he knew from Facebook.  He hoped to meet her tomorrow.  Hubby teased him mercilessly about his FB friend, saying she would be old and ugly unlike her photo.

Our driver, on the other hand was a devoted family man.  He had a brilliant sense of humour and would have made an excellent guide.  That was his dream but the university fees were far beyond his reach.  His name was Mr Tour.  What a great name that would be for a guide!

We drove along mile after mile of flooded roads.  We learned that the rice crop would be ruined.  The resourceful locals turned their hands to fishing for the influx of fish.  They would need as much as they could catch since the rice had failed.  We watched them casting nets, diving under the water and sitting with a single rod.  All for survival.

The effort of telling his life story had worn out our guide.  Following in the footsteps of other guides, he was soon fast asleep and snoring loudly to everyone's amusement.  

We were taken to a temple with 360 steep and large steps.  In my heart of hearts I was defeated.  Neither of us were fit enough to tackle those plus they were very slippery from the rain.  Our guide, feeling fresh after his nap, offered to take the IPod up the steps, so we could see what we were missing.  Off he went, like a leaping gazelle.

And we waited and waited.  My over-imaginative brain went into action.  What if he had taken the iPod to try and gain access to all my accounts?  Would he have taken what little money we had left? And where was the car?  It had moved.  Perhaps they were in on it together and had driven away.  Well we still had our passports if nothing else.  We could fall at the feet of the monks and ask for compassion........and so it went on until I saw the guide returning with loads of new photos for me.  Big relief.

Hopping around puddles and extremely muddy patches, we were taken to a low down treehouse with a thatched roof.  This was the lunch stop.  There were no chairs.  The choice of seating was a carpet or hammocks.  Hubby needed a little help as he gently lowered his bottom into the hammock while two of us kept the canvas well spread.  We hung on until he had swung his legs in and was swinging away with a happy grin on his face.  I was more than happy to copy him in my own little hammock.

The food began to arrive.  Large steel containers, bowls and dishes which contained very aromatic food.  I didn't have a clue where to begin.  Mr Tour invited me down onto the carpet where we sat cross-legged.  He showed me the Cambodian way of serving and eating.  We filled our bowls (and tums) with wild boar soup, chicken and rice.  We had one of those uneasy moments when the guide told us the price of our meal.  It far outweighed anything we had spent on a meal so far.  Hubby queried the amount and the price suddenly halved.  Methinks there could be more to this chappie than meets the eye.

  An old lady with very few teeth climbed into our hut.  She was very poor with ragged clothes.  She started to massage my feet and legs.  She had been taught well.  I asked her to stop which she did.  She was fascinated with my folding umbrella.  She thought it was a hat!  I showed her how it worked and she was impressed.  Through Mr Tour's help, I learned that the lady was the same age as me.  Poor soul.  Life had been hard on her.  She started to clear our dishes away and I gave her a small tip.  Well, that started a commotion.  The owner's young son has been coming over and thought the money should be his.  The old lady gave him short shrift and things calmed down.

We headed for the hotel.  There it was.  The one with the flooded road outside.  No chance of going out tonight, unless we could find a boat!  Our vehicle reversed in so we could avoid getting wet feet.  The hotel seat cushions must have caught the rain at some point.  I had a soggy rear end after sitting on the sofa.

Registration complete, we were shown to our room.  The hotel was classed as boutique.  I thought shabby chic was more appropriate with the emphasis on shabby.  The floor tiles looked as though they had been immersed in mud and partially cleaned.  In contrast the bed linen and ensuite were very clean.  Ouch, something bit me.  Ouch and again.  No way could I sleep in here without a net around the bed.  I went to show the receptionist my red bites.  She called housekeeping who came armed with sprays and a voluminous net.  We gave her a hand to tie it up.  I would be safe in there.

To try and forget about the real possibility of being stranded, we hit the bar.  Here we met Pat, the jolly owner.  He was originally from England but had fallen in love with Cambodia.  He used to be a builder.  Now he is a very good host.  As we were unable to go into the town, he treated us to our cocktails.  So kind.

We ate our evening meal and retired to our room.  With the net securely fastened, I contemplated the fact that choosing to visit Cambodia during the monsoon season might not have been my greatest idea.  Indeed, I put it up there with the time I bought a thousand brown buttons, bagged them ten at a time and tried to sell them at a car boot.  Think I will go with the locust popcorn idea next time.  

My final thought as I drifted off was whether I would wake in the night to find our bed floating down the road.

1 comment:

  1. Wonderful Trish. Waiting for photos + stories of the motorhome