This week has had more downs than ups, after getting back from a wonderful weekend in Mondulkiri and realising just how much we enjoy travelling with each other, it felt like we crash landed back into school life. Rather unsuccessfully.
After starting the week off a little negatively, with lessons not going entirely to plan and the children being little monsters, Lucy decided it was high time to treat ourselves to another pedicure.
Neven one to pass up the opportunity to be pampered, we agreed to go to The Open Arms, a local cafe and salon that the school kept recommending to us.
Zac and I had already been for cheesecake the other week and I was keen to check out the pedicures there as it’s another social venture, supporting young women.
Just what I needed and it was great to get some blue back on my nails, they did a stirling job and even added some glitter for me: glitzy nails make me so happy.
They weren’t too blinding in the sunshine, either, which was something I only considered after I was toe deep in glitter.
Luce then got her eyebrows waxed, which provided a good giggle for me and the lady who was waxing her, as she wriggled and flinched in pain.
I’d like to point out, I wasn’t laughing that she was in pain, I was laughing at her reaction to the pain which was in equal parts incredibly British and incredibly rude in the relatively conservative Cambodia – I don’t think I’ve heard a Cambodian swear since I’ve been here, so a: “Mother fucker, gosh, sorry, sorry, so sorry…”, chiming out from Lucy resulted in sniggers.
They’re incredibly professional at The Open Arms, but it is a training salon and unfortunately for Lucy, with her little toe nails and low pain threshold, she had one of the trainee girls on her feet – a less relaxing experience, but her toes still looked beaut after she’d done.
Hopefully she thinks it’s worth the pain!
For me though, the best part was my nails survived Kep, being ankle deep in thick mud and a bit of a battering along the beach!
I never thought I’d be glad to be back at the school, but getting up the stairs and flopping in to our musty, stuffy room was the biggest relief of the weekend.
We found a restaurant called ‘Seagull’ with a beautiful upstairs balcony.
Wicker furniture, bright plump cushions and the gentle tinkle of seashells from the countless wind chimes and hanging strings of shells easily melted away the stresses of the day.
The cool breeze soothed my sore grazes, fresh air making it easier to breathe, despite my busied ribs and the sound of the ocean calmed my restless soul. It’s easy to feel poetic when you’re by the sea.
We watched the locals catching crabs, watched the boats coming and going and waited until the sun started to dip below the horizon before we headed off to find dinner.
It was our little haven of tranquility after the weekend that was and I felt like every time we left there something bad happened.
We arrived at the ‘bus stop’ early to be greeted by a heavily pregnant women and her half naked toddler who informed us there was a problem with the bus and it wasn’t coming.
She was going to find out what was happening for us and we pondered what we’d do if we were stranded in Kep for another night.
An hour and a portion of chips from, her cafe later we saw a taxi pull up and start talking to the ‘owner’.
Aye, aye, here comes the unscheduled taxi I read about in the reviews.
After a bit more confusion, we got in to the taxi.
It was cool, it was comfy and Zac had plenty of room.
We thought there were worse ways to get back to Phnom Penh than a cheap ass private taxi and cheated away quite happily, holding hands in the back of the car, glad the weekend was ending better than it had started.
At this stage we’d still get back in time to visit the night market and we were scheduled to be dropped off just outside.
When I clocked the driver’s cap said ‘Trust Me’, I immediately started to think our revelry was premature.
We got as far as Kampot when the taxi stopped.
Unsure what was going on, we couldn’t help but laugh in the back as we waited for our driver.
New driver belted in we set off again, glad we were turning down the road with a large sin to Phnom Penh.
We can’t have got more than 5km out of Kampot before we stopped again outside someone’s house.
We watched in confusion and then horror as we saw a angry sack full of baby’s clothes loaded in to the relatively small boot, followed by a crib, a changing back and a further two bags of baby ‘things’.
The car shook as the men tried to jam everything in, eventually we heard it click shut.
We waited to set off, wondering what the delay was and then the baby and his parents rocked up.
My heart sank.
Our private taxi had just turned in to shared and the addition of our fellow passengers made the previously comfy taxi cramped.
At least we were heading back to the right city.
We spent the net 4 hours watching the baby being fed until he vomited and then have the cycle repeated, have his head banged on the roof of the car and then coddled and clicked at when he refused to sleep.
We were trying to keep our emotions neutral, but it was hard to watch the kid sit with his head lolling around, neck not yet able to cope with the weight and not want to reach out and support it.
As it got dark I’d begun to ignore the traffic and the hair raising over taking of a car over taking a lorry over taking a moto and just wanted to get out the car, away from the Cambodian man brazenly sleeping on me and stretch my legs.
We pulled up to the edge of a roundabout and the car stopped.
Our passengers had got in after us, so we assumed they’d be getting out first, before we were dropped off near the night market.
Only this stop was for us.
Turns out our passengers lived in this direction, our original stop was too far out of the way for the taxi driver so we were left on the opposite side of the city to work out just where the hell we were and how the hell we were getting back.
All night market plans instantly vanished and we just got a Tuk Tuk straight back to school.