Well now that I've mastered the art of crossing the street, I have started exploring my local area. Mostly working in concentric circles from my house. I can now easily walk to the restaurants around the Golden Gate hotel, and I can get to Lucky Supermarket and back. Everything here seems to be either Golden, Lucky or Happy!
Last Sunday I mooched around the local shops buying things for the flat, and then strolling past a hairdresser, I decided to go and get my roots sorted out. I walked into one that looked friendly and pointed to the area of concern. The next moment I found myself covered in layers of towels and having dye applied to the root of the problem. This was all fine, but then I had to sit for ages waiting for the dye to work. During this time a baby was brought in by the hairdresser for my inspection. I'm not much into babies, but this man had my crowning glory at his mercy, so I smiled and cooed with suitable fervour. After an age a young lady began to unwrap the towels, and then gave me a neck and shoulders massage. Nice! Then she washed my hair 3 times, each time giving my scalp a right good scrapping! If anyone has need of my DNA at anytime, most of it is under the fingernails of my hairdresser! She then gave me a lovely head massage, before walking me back to the chair and giving me another neck and shoulder massage. Whilst my hair was being blow dried I received an arm and hand massage. All of this for $25. Bargain! I have to say that my hair looked marvellous, well at least for a few hours, until it was crushed into a motorcycle helmet, and had to contend with the humidity of Phnom Penh.
I wouldn't be English if I didn't mention the weather. It is hot! I'm told this is cool season, but I lost about a 1lb in sweat just sweeping and mopping the floor of the flat Friday morning. It is also really stormy. We have had torrential rain everyday this week, and thunder and lightning too. It's like someone turned on a power shower when it rains here. It's had pretty serious consequences. There's been at least 247 people killed in the Kingdom, and the rice crop has been almost completely destroyed. The situation is so bad that the government has cancelled the Water Festival in November. This is a huge festival, and about a million people pour into Phnom Penh from the provinces to watch the boat races on the river. The government says the river is too high for the boat races, and the money can be better spent on flood relief. Last year there was a stampede that caused 350 deaths, and I think the government is worried about that too. One of the other teachers at school said that the Prime Minister had to cry on National TV for five minutes last year, and he won't want to have to do that again. It really is an unprecedented step though.
On a lighter note I've been watching the rugby at the local sports bars. I'm so glad that I like sport as it really helps to grow your circle of friends. I walked into Gym Bar this weekend and there were around 10 ex-pats that I'm acquainted with now. Anh arrived later with her crazy sister, and even more cousins. I was going to adopt most of her family, but having seen the amount of food they eat I'm just not sure I can afford it. 'Where are the kids?' 'Oh they're eating again!' Not sure if big Tony was kidding when he complimented me on my big family.
I feel like I'm getting to grips with my locale now. There is a little shopping complex next door, so I thought I would keep the locals friendly by going to Khmer Beauty for a manicure and pedicure ($3 I ask you!), and she was so chuffed I was using her she took my photo. Not a flattering shot I'm sure! I am also next door to the Willi Shop but I think I'll save that one for another time; it sells baby clothes. It's been a real scorcher today and I've caught the sun during my wanders. However the beauty regime is being constantly thwarted by the ruddy mozzies. One of them even had the temerity to bite me on fresh deet! Mozzie's don't really like me so they tend to eat and run, a thing I put down to a steady diet of marmite and chilli.
I've enjoyed teaching this week. I'm pleased to say that after two weeks of teaching them, I have now a clearer understanding of the future tenses. Whether the students get it is anyone's guess. I did have a student use 'stuck' as a verb. 'I am stucking in a traffic jam' and I quite agree with her, it should be a verb. I taught my 'Monster Raving Loony Party Lesson' to lighten the atmosphere as we had been talking politics in the previous lesson. I have a lady who works for the government in one of my classes and she looked a bit disapproving. The students loved it and thought it was hilarious. Thank you MRL for the manifesto. My Khmer has now extended to a few words, mostly used with tuk tuk drivers, 'thank you', 'straight on' 'stop, STOP!' My tame tuk tuk driver, Ra, texted me at 10.30 last night to tell me he was tired and I should find my own way home. It was all very polite and he ended it with 'I am sorry madam bye, goodnight'. Bless him! I don't know if dropping me off at a gay bar was the last straw for him.
Oh yes! I've been here almost a month, and it has taken me this long to find a gay bar. The Blue Chilli is fabulous, and I think it could be my late night drinking spot from now on! I should have been a gay man; they all just love me. If I had the same effect on straight men that I have on gay men I would have been married more times than Elizabeth Taylor! I knew that I was in my comfort zone when the waiter asked me to follow him, and then did the full supermodel catwalk mince to the sofa at the end of the bar. Thank goodness he didn't ask me to 'walk this way'!
After the campness of the Blue Chilli Anh took me and the family to a Vietnamese Karaoke bar. Oh the campness of it all, at least I'd been watching rugby earlier. Here we drank beer, and said 'cheers' a lot, and the family ate something really stinky that might have been dried squid. It was past midnight and I was dead on my feet by now. Ngeu (?) sang a couple of songs. She has a really good voice, though I have no idea what she was singing. Most South East Asian songs seem to have the theme 'He left me and I'm really upset'. After the karaoke the whole family squeezed into a tuk tuk and they dropped me off at home. I'd taken it steady this time, and didn't have to crawl up the stairs, though I did stop to chat to a passing gecko, so I might not have been entirely sober.
Anyway well done to the All Blacks, and lets hope they pulverise the ruddy French in the final!