weekend 5; phnom penh

Taking the time to look back on our adventures since we’d been together, we realised we’ve done a lot. And over a wonderful evening at Roots and Burgers, reminiscing about Amsterdam and Scotland, German sausages and Welsh castles, we couldn’t help but get excited about the weekend.

Although, naturally, for us, things aren’t that simple.

Zac had booked us into a wonderful little hostel, only he’d got the dates wrong. Half way through my lesson on Thursday I get an email from booking.com saying we were registered as a no show and our reservation had been cancelled.
Panicked we rang the hostel as soon as the lesson was finished and, as Zac puts it, I went ‘all British on their ass’ and got us booked in for the proper dates.

While we were keen to get to the hostel, we’d arranged to have lunch with the Principal, VP and Panya. I was a little nervous, and kept inviting more teachers, as I wasn’t sure how much craic Teacher Peng would have outside of the school and didn’t want it to be awkward, but actually he’s great and I wish we’d done it sooner!
Somehow Zac managed to con them in to going to KFC, but it really made us feel part of the Golden Ed family, and they said they’ll be sad when we’ve gone.

“Oh dear. But teacher, we are used to saying goodbye. The interns you come and you leave and you break our hearts.”

It was great just sitting and laughing, whiling away a decent lunch break with them, and by the time we got back to the school, the children were beginning to arrive for afternoon classes.
On the way back to school, we were talking about the markets and trying to get some more souvenirs, but how we hate knowing we’re begin ripped off slightly with a ‘foreigner fee’ (i.e. a white tax), so we arranged to meet Panya and Cheata on Saturday morning for a taste of a what a real market is like – and get some goods at ‘real’ prices!

Heading in to town we were slightly giddy in the Tuk Tuk, playing our favourite game (how would we help Cambodia if we were in charge) and discussing the election in the US.
We arrived at the hostel and I couldn’t stop smiling, despite some confusion over the actual price of our room, we were soon shown to our weekend retreat.
It was lovely; a balcony, air con, a bright light in the bathroom, a pool!
I stripped down in to a bikini within a few minutes and spent the next half hour pestering Zac to go for a swim.
After a quick call to Melbourne to check the progress of plans in Vietnam and a quick call to Ashby to tell them about our plans post travel I eventually managed to drag him down to the pool.
He was reluctant to get in, but the water felt way too good for me to care. Splashing up and down, I tried my best to get a half decent swim in, but the pool was shaped in a sort of ‘splash’ and I forgot to bring my goggles so the water was burning my eyes slightly. A few laps of sculling and I had a familiar twinge in my shoulder so cruised over to the section of pool Zac was sitting near and laid my head on my arms, looking at him with my best puppy dog eyes.

“You don’t need to do that I was actually about to come in. Just don’t get my hair wet.”

We spent the next hour working up an appetite, play fighting in the pool, chasing each other and laughing more than I have for weeks.
I felt happy.
It felt back to normal, back to us, that sort of relaxed that we’d been searching for in Kep.
I didn’t care if we were annoying the other people around the pool, it could have just been us, absorbed in our own little world.

Inevitably Zac got hungry and we couldn’t miss an opportunity to go to Cartel after Lucy, Ewan, Molly and Nina had been raving about it and we’d only ever timed our attempted visits when they were closed.
You see you circle what you want on a ‘menu’ – no issues with language barriers and for Mr. Fussy pants, it’s perfect for making sure he’s not turning his nose up at ‘vegetables’!

Wandering past the palace at night is eerie – the street is sectioned off and often there are Asian tourists mid way through a photo shoot, but tonight there were just enthusiastic footy fans who invited Zac to join in for a few goals.

Electrical storm brewing, we tentatively walked along to the night market on the riverside. As soon as we arrived the heavens opened and we wondered if we’d ever managed to get a look around the night market.
Sodden and tired we dove straight in to bed.

After the best night’s sleep either of us have had for a while we were ready for breakfast and a hard morning of bartering and sweating in the market.
We met Banya at the market and wandered further down to meet Cheata and Cindy.
Having been dropped off by hubby and the kids, Zac immediately clocked Jin-Jin who gave him a smile and a wave and once again stole his heart – VP is going to have to keep a serious eye on her little one when we leave, Zac will definitely try to sneak her in to hand luggage.

Neither of us were prepared for just how hot it was in the market, cramped and smelly, the rain began to pour as we arrived, bringing the humidity with it.
We spent a few hours pottering around munching on sour mango and marvelling at just how many stores there were squashed in over the three floors of market.
Zac got another new tie and plenty of attention about his height, while I got some silver hoops (that I still can’t figure out how to get in…) and some nail varnish, in lieu of an expensive manicure that will last.

After all that walking, Zac felt he’d earned some chicken, so we trudged off to KFC.
As we were leaving he asked me what I wanted for dinner.
“I’m not sure what I fancy, but I think I want some chicken. I’ve not had chicken for a at least a week.”
I looked at him. I stopped walking. I looked at him again.
“What?”
“Are you being serious?”
“What do you mean? I haven’t had…”
“You’ve had KFC 2 days in a row!”
He put his head in his hands, shoulders shaking with laughter.
Not sure that boy’s firing on all cylinders at the moment.

We did finally make it to the night market, which was entirely unimpressive in terms of stock, but a pleasant enough place to walk around and there were some overly enthusiastic children running around climbing everything shouting “Spider-Man!” Over and over.
We diverted via the Royal Palace on our way back to The Billabong and were treated with a light show.

A national holiday to celebrate the anniversary of the King’s death had brought the community to the centre.
There was such a vibe of frivolity and community surrounding the palace with the grass strewn with picnic blankets and dining families, signs to keep of the grass duly ignored.
Children were blowing bubbles and throwing neon toys at each other, running up and down the street, blissfully unaware of anything other than having as much fun as possible.
It was contagious.

One of Phnom Penh’s many beautiful pagoda’s

Sunday played out much the same.
A different day, a different market.
We were killing time in Costa before heading back to the school when we bumped in to Triv, who was on a solo pagoda tour, so we decided to join her.
It turned out they were both closed for weddings, but it was a nice little walk around the city, none the less.

As weekends go, this one was pretty damn near perfect.

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