The ever-smiling, ever-joking Mr Smee arrived. Today's opening joke went something like this - 'So, today I leave you after two months.' 'You mean two days,' I piped up, thinking he had made a mistake. 'No. You come in September. You leave in October. Hee-hee- hee!' You had to smile.
Unable to accompany us inside, he delegated the lead role to Hubby. This could have been a disaster but he led us through check-in like a pro. The airport at Phnom Penh was quite small, so left little opportunity for anyone getting lost
I was in need of the rest room. Whether it was the food, water or recently commenced malaria tablets, my tummy had been a little out of sorts. Not bad enough to dive into the closely guarded 'just in case Lord David spots another distressed female' Imodium, but needy enough for keeping pockets stuffed with toilet paper and an eye open for western toilets. So, after using the toilet, I pressed the handle. Nothing. I pressed the handle again. Still no joy. Looking around, I couldn't see a secret flushing device. Would I have to hang around until I was sure the washroom was empty before sneaking out? Would I have to miss my flight. I tried once more. Nothing. Annoyed, I flipped the handle up. Result. So remember ladies, if you are ever at Phnom Penh - it's an upper not a downer.
Did you notice earlier that Hubby has a new name? Happy Family Frank re-christened him, after watching me tie his shoe laces in a servile manner. He took to his new position very well, adopting a Royal air and accent to the amusement of Happy Family. This confused our new guide, Ny (pronounced knee) on introduction at Siem Reap. We thought he had arranged an upgrade at the aptly named Paradise Hotel as a result of our status. Later we discovered everyone had the same high standard.
We were not allowed time to wallow in our new surroundings. Just ten minutes to apply suncream. bug stuff and lip salve before heading out to visit temples. I was struck by the intense heat and humidity immediately. As much as I wanted to listen to Ny, my main focus was finding some shade. I tried to squeeze myself into any spot, just to be covered.
Two of us found a grand space. Ahh. We were swiftly moved on as it was the King's main entrance. He didn't need it. The bus loads of Chinese and Japanese visitors who had arrived, needed to pass through. Complete with large cameras and iPads, they smiled holding up their fingers in the sign of peace and clicked. Everywhere they leaped in front of others. Queuing was not on their vocabulary today.
By now the heat was thirty-five degrees and rising. Lord and Lady Clough decided they were templed out and opted to remain on the bus. It had started to rain. Umbrellas were handed out to the hardy Australian six. They had barely stepped outside when the Heavens opened. Bravely the carried on as buckets of rain beat down on them. Lord and Lady C looked on in admiration. Leaping over newly created puddles, they reached their destination. They didn't stop long and looked like competitors in a wet T-shirt competition on their return. The United Nations Conference on the bus decided to abandon the remaining temples in favour of Happy Hour.
Needless to say, we were ready for a shower. Hubby could not resist a little dressing up game. He wound his dressing gown around so that he looked like a Buddhist monk. He just needs to shave the remaining six hairs and he will really look the part. Anyone who tells him I wrote that, is in BIG trouble - and so will I be!
Ny had said we would find a laundry later. Packing our pants and other used items into our matching Morrisons bags, we joined the Happy Family crew who toted similar, if more upmarket bags. Frank and Tania introduced us to the delights of Happy Hour Aussie style. In Frank's case, he explained the workings of a B52 (or was it 42. I've had a few cocktails since then). This small, yet explosive, drink was set on fire. You are supposed to drink it whilst the flames are at full pelt. Obviously a favourite amongst flame throwers then.
Wife Tania then gave an elegant demonstration on how to park oneself on a bar stool, ending with a neat little foot flick ( be careful not to say the last two words incorrectly). Trying to impress, I held on with my arms and jumped. I was still about twelve inches short of the chair. Nothing else for it. Facing the chair, I climbed up it like Sir Edmund Hillary on Everest. Ending on the seat on all fours, I gave a quick twirl and was ready for action with my Black Russian ( that's the name of the drink darling.)
The monsoon rains continued, so Ny arrived in the bus to take us to the laundry. The first one was too busy but the second was able to help. Lord David was delighted as it was named the Royal Laundry. Once again we had to skirt deep puddles as we crossed the road. Our bags were weighed and the price agreed. Oh we would soon smell sweet again.
Off to the night market where the local ladies invited us to look at their stalls. I was most impressed and came away with some cooler items to wear. Hopefully Wet Lady may become Damp Woman before long. Punctual as always, we walked back to the bus. Well, we walked back to a bus. It just wasn't ours. Ours was further down the road, with everyone waiting patiently for our return. Oh dear.
Little Happy Family headed off for a fun night out. A buffet meal followed by traditional dancing. The food tables groaned with the weight of all the tempting dishes. I groaned later from having yielded to the temptations. Not wanting to appear greedy, I put just a little of everything I fancied on my plate. I returned with a mountain of food which I reduced to a molehill just before the entertainment started.
The show opened with the male dancers wanting to play with the females' coconuts (stop it. I can hear you giggling.). A very clever routine with coconuts clip-clopping all over the place.
Most of the routines involved someone/something trying to catch someone/something. As with the Laos dancers, I was fascinated with the hand movements and the dancers' bendy fingers. My favourite act was the Fisherman's Dance. Everyone was catching fish with baskets at the start. By the end, they were more interested in catching the women. At the end of the evening, Lord David led his own tiddler home to put her in her pla(i)ce, Groan!!