I finally lost my temper. I decided to go to a pool for a little splash about and a spot of sunbathing; too much time spent in the staff room in air conditioning means that I don't look like I live in the Tropics yet. I left the house about quarter to ten, hoping to get to the pool for about ten o'clock for a couple of hours and then get out of the sunshine for midday. As soon as I arrived at the edge of the pavement a moto pulled up. I told him I where I wanted to go to and which street it was on. He looked blank, so I waved him away. The next guy said he definitely knew where I wanted to go, so I got on the back, and we headed off. Then he had to fill up with petrol, and while he was doing that he started asking them for directions. This wound me up and I reminded him that he had told me he knew where he was going. Then we headed off again, back the way we had just come, and then he turned off the main street and started driving in completely the wrong direction. I shouted 'cheop, cheop', which means stop, and got off. Then I berated him for lying to me, and stormed off without giving him any money, which he didn't deserve as I was no where near the place I wanted to be.
I finally reached the end of my tether with these guys who set themselves up as taxis but don't even know the main streets in the city. If I don't know the way, and they don't know the way, how the hell am I supposed to get where I'm going? Use the Force?
This week there has been a sad loss! My flip flop exploded on the street when I was walking back from the bakery. The toe-post gave up the ghost. I have seen many lonely flip flops meet their fate on the streets of Phnom Penh. The problem for me was that I had to walk back to my apartment bare foot, which included crossing six lanes of traffic on Norodom Boulevard. Still if the monks can do it then I can do it. My feet seemed to be permanently dirty anyway. I have at least three cold showers a day, and still my feet are dirty every time. It's a pretty polluted city.
I was initiated by Anh into the Phnom Penh Cycle Hash this week, though it very nearly didn't happen. We went to one cycle hire shop, only to be told that all fifty of his bikes were already rented, though they were still all in the shop. We then had to make a mad dash across town to hire bikes from The Vicious Cycle. The truck taking us to the hash picked up from there, and we drove out past the airport and into the countryside for our cycle ride. It was a little chaotic because the directions painted by the hares earlier seemed to have disappeared. We missed a large chunk of the route out, but that was just as well, as we had delayed the start so much that it was getting pretty dark. It was so great to get out of the crazy city and see some countryside. The kids shouted 'hello' and waved to us all of the way around. The hash itself was followed by 'The Circle', and Anh's boss Chris is the Grand Master. Everyone seems to have a nick-name and Chris's is STD (Sex Tourism Director ). The Circle involves drinking down quantities of beer in one as a punishment for various crimes committed. I had to drink for making everyone late, for being English (yeah, sorry about that one!), for being a Hash Virgin, and I'm pretty sure for something-else too.
I would like to point out to all of my Facebook friends that a cycle hash is about following a trail, not cycling whilst off your tits on weed!!!!!
The rain started to fall in a pretty normal fashion at first, which was just as well as I was travelling in the back of an open-top truck with the bikes (and the beer!), singing filthy rugby songs, and sitting on the cool box! I got back to the flat at about 9pm, wet, dirty and a bit tiddly. After a shower and a quick change I phoned my tuk tuk driver Ra, and I think I got him out of bed! As I was leaving the flat for a night out the rain really started to come down, and Thor was definitely having a power shower this evening. Maybe he came on the Hash too! There was a rather attractive Scandinavian bloke with long hair there.
I picked up Amber and Mara and we set off for the Saturday Club. By the time we got to Tikei's the streets were a foot deep in water. Normally when it rains the motorbike riders all suddenly appear in bin-liners usually blue, pink, or yellow ones with a little hood. That night the streets were pretty much deserted. We were zipped into our tuk tuk like it was a little tent on wheels. Certain members of the Saturday Club were already the worse for wear when we got there, but it's aways good to see other people drunk! "Hi I'm Bill," Said one. "I know, I met you last time." "Did you? Was I here?" Tikei greeted me affectionately, kissing my hand for about ten minutes, then half an hour later he came over and said, "Hi Gin, I didn't see you arrive." Chatted to Tom for a while, his world weary cynicism is great conversation.
about 2 solid hours and everywhere out of town was flooded. The tuk tuk got through using the main streets but the side roads were impassable. They built the Central Market in the 1930's on a lake, which they drained. Now they have a huge development happening on Boeung Kak Lake in the city. The water has no where to go now but into the streets. By the time we left the club at 1.30 the side streets around the Royal Palace were about two feet deep in water. I'm just glad I live on a main road.
I cycled the bike back to the bike shop the next morning, only slightly scared of the traffic, and the water had all gone, just leaving sludge and rubbish in its wake. The rainy season should be over by now, but it hasn't stopped yet, and the river's current changes direction this week (that is what the Water Festival celebrates), so I hope that doesn't bring more misery to this flood hit country!