Friday, December 30, 2011

Christmas in a strange land

It’s not been at all like Christmas, but I’m hoping that my first New Year of 2012 is going to feel like a real New Year for a change.  I’ll have 3 New Years, Chinese New Year in a couple of weeks and Khmer New Year in a few months, so if I cock this one up there will be other chances. 
The end of term meant test time, and thankfully most of my students passed.  Their success was a real reward for me.  I’m a fun teacher, and my lessons can be a little off the wall and pretty creative, but I often wondered if anyone actually learnt anything.  I’m happy to say that it seems they do.  There was a lovely Christmas party on the roof of a hotel and then everyone basically left town.  It seemed sometimes that I was the only ex-pat in town.  I went from spending nine hours a day with other teachers and students to spending all day on my own.  I also went from spending nine hours a day in an air-conditioned room to spending all day in the sunshine.  I finally have a tan.
Anh came back from her travels, bringing with her a friend from England.  We went out for dinner and I had seafood noodles.  It wasn’t the best food I’ve ever had, and sure enough 2 hours later, whilst sat in Memphis, it began to take effect.  In all of my wild youth I never threw up outside a night club, but sure enough the squid took its revenge next to a tuk tuk.  You would think that the prospect of a customer doing a Linda Blair from The Exorcist in the back of his vehicle would scare him off; but no the guy dropped me at my flat and cheerfully wished me a happy Christmas.  It wasn’t happy at all for most of that night, and I will not be recommending Boat Noodle to anyone.  I spent Christmas Eve in bed with dreadful Khmer karaoke blaring from the shopping precinct next door, which wasn’t helping my recovery at all.
The karaoke was in aid of a clothing sale, and began at 9am and finished at 9pm.  It started on the 21st December and went on until the 26th.  Merry f***ing Christmas!!!! 
I recovered enough for Christmas Day, hitting the Russian Market with Andy and his Mum, and then visiting the blind people for another massage.  I think the massage worked wonders!  We went to FCC for a drink, because you haven’t really been to Phnom Penh if you haven’t been to FCC.  Watching the river from the breezy balcony in this beautiful old colonial building I realised something: I’ve acclimatised and it’s bloody cold!  We had dinner there in the evening and it was even colder.  Warmed up at The Cambodiana, but that was full of locals and the atmosphere was weird.  I don’t know who decided that 11pm in a local hotspot is the place for an 8 year old’s birthday party, but someone did.  The band sang ‘Happy Birthday’ to the kid, and they lit some sparklers before letting off silly string.  Not a sensible combination, but somehow the family survived.  I think the place was full of gangsters and their molls, and some pouty rich young things that couldn’t be seen to be enjoying themselves.  The band was wonderful as usual.
All in all it was a strange Christmas, maybe next year I’ll join the ex-pat exodus and head for a beach somewhere.  Maybe Australia……… 

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