I do realise that I go on about the traffic a bit much, but really it is insane! Just when I thought I'd got the hang of the traffic, the holidays hit. It was the anniversary of the Coronation yesterday, and it is the King Father's birthday tomorrow. The alien space craft that is The Independence Monument, it really looks like something out of Star Gate, has little trees with fairy lights all around it. It looks beautiful, and all of the surrounding trees are strewn with fairy lights too. There were fireworks at about 6.30, they were over by the river, but I could see them from my window.
I was heading to The Pickled Parrot for a party, so I left the house at about 6.50 thinking it would take about ten minutes to get there. The moment we reached the Monument the traffic became extremely busy, and the nearer to Sisowath Quay we got, the worse the traffic became. There were a few police men dotted here and there, waving fluorescent lights frantically and achieving very little. The road was just a river of tuk tuks, motorbikes and cars and I was a part of this huge flow of humanity. It was very exciting. The people trying to drive in the wrong direction had no chance and crossing the flow was impossible. A few people tried it on foot, but even the Cambodians looked afraid of the traffic for a change.
With the exciting prospect of a long weekend I headed out on Friday night with Anh, her sister, my 'adopted daughter' Hein and another of Anh's friends Polina. We went to The Cambodiana hotel to check out the live band. I had a couple of mojitos and a dance. The band were great, and did Western covers. There was great excitement in the room when they covered a Thai song about a woman waiting for a thousand nights - South East Asian songs generally follow the theme 'he left me, oh God!'. I had a surreal moment when the band covered Waka Waka - so I'm listening to a song about Africa, originally sung by a Peruvian woman, covered by a Filipino band in a Cambodian nightspot? Can this be real? The band came over to meet us between sets, excited that we had been singing along, and dancing to their music. Nice people, I must go there again.
Saturday night, after The Pickled Parrot I went to Memphis (again!) for some live music. Most of the usual suspects turned up, and Ngu bought several gigantic Germans wearing lederhosen with her. We were having a pretty good time until the thrash metal band arrived on stage. I like thrash metal as much as the next person, but it's not something the South East Asians do well! Time for a sharp exit, so we piled into a couple of tuk tuks and headed to nearby Pontoon night club. It was like night clubs all over the world: packed, loud, smoky and I was drunk.
I have to say I felt a little the worse on Sunday, but it was cured by a good strong coffee and some excellent toast, made in the bottom of the pan as I don't have a toaster, or a grill, or a kettle. I ventured out into Phnom Penh and declined the offers of a tuk tuk or moto every three yards. I had a quiet day but the weather was beautiful: 32 degrees and a cooling breeze. I forget it's October, it just feels like summer. I relaxed by the pool Monday morning, though there was a bit of a scrap with a pool boy who didn't want to put my umbrella up because it was too windy. 'I'm from England Sonny, this isn't wind!' I told him firmly. The river is still so high, though it hasn't rained for a few days. We've had some amazingly beautiful storms, and I must be getting acclimatised as I felt a little chilly on the back of the moto in the rain. After chilling by the pool, and then walking in the park (well that's what the call the grassy bit by the Independence Monument!) I went with Anh for a Seeing Hands Massage. The place doesn't have the trickling water features of a spa, but then that just makes me want the loo anyway, and it's very basic. All the same it was the best massage I've ever had and only $7! I think my back is probably completely straightened out now.
So it's back to work for five days, Sunday off, then just Monday before another holiday. I'd appreciate the holidays more if I was getting paid for them!