The morning passed us by without us really noticing. We read books, watched a film and had some muesli for breakfast. We had a visitor in the gap between bathroom window and mosquito vent, a Tokay Gecko. A bit smaller than one we saw while zip lining in Angkor jungle, this little guy was doing a poor job of staying inconspicuous. His pale blue body and orange spots were obvious even in the darkness of our weirdly shaped bathroom. We saw one later that day (two in one day – what are the chances) and managed to get a photo.We did venture out, eventually, for the premise of lunch and stretching our legs. It was also a chance to stroll around downtown and scope out a shop for a small project we thought about. The shop however was closed, so we settled for an ice cream. A rather awkward moment in the 7 Eleven where a tourist had clearly broken something but was refusing to pay for it, blaming a staff member for pushing something through from the other side at the same time. It meant either something on the top shelf (can’t imagine anything delicate being broken) or a drink in the fridges (they’re connected to a giant cool room behind to stack items easily). Either way, exit stage left and enjoy the ice cream before it melted in a heartbeat.Back at the hut, Katherine continued her sniffing. Mixtures of hot and cold, stuffy and confined, plus being in a garden resort with so many plants, she started to sound like a baby elephant snuffling for a peanut. So, she finally relented for a nap and blessedly the runny nose stopped. I caught up on two unfinished blogs, meaning I just needed to crawl off the end of the bed, go outside and upload photos under the router. Or stay and play Candy Crush. Hmmmm…. easy choice!
When Sleeping Beauty stirred we went about planing our little project – a tattoo. We considered getting the Sak Yanta scripts that are very popular in Thailand and Cambodia. The 5 lines of script, tattooed on the left shoulder blade were made infamous by Angelina Jolie. However, after our research we decided not to get them done. The should only be done in that area of the body and all 5 lines should be done, not a combination of them. Ideally, they should be done or blessed by a monk at the end of the process. So, in this research we came across unalomes. Typically a design used to cap the end of a line of scripture, it has its own meaning and symbology and we both liked it. So, we trawled trough Pinterest, found two designs we liked and had the tattoo artist amalgamate the two in Photoshop to give us a unique interpretation of the blessing.
I knew straight away where I wanted to get the tattoo done and was in the chair before Katherine. The guy must have been an apprentice or newly qualified. The nervousness was pouring out of him and he was shaking like a leaf for a bit. Painful at times, the tatt took almost 40minutes to complete. Kat changed her mind for the fourth time about where she wanted it placed. Not happy with the alignment the first three times, she saw how mine looked and decided for the same place. Much quicker than mine, with less shaking and nerves, she was finished in about 10mins. Matching tattoos and happy smiles we went looking for food. The two restaurants we normally venture to were closed/closing, so we tried a new joint. Writing all over the wall said to try the curry, but we didn’t trust the quality of the food at such a late hour and opted for noodles. They were awful, soggy and tasted of powder mix. So we got chocolate to compensate for the disappointing dinner and watched the last two episodes of Dexter Season 3 before bed.
Sunday 23rd October 2016
The mattress is amazing. I know this is a trivial matter – who cares about a mattress. But, weeks and months of soft beds, hard beds, beds that envelope you, single beds, mosquito infested rooms, night buses, etc. only to have a double bed that has a nice soft top layer to it, but support for your back… bliss! A semi decent shower, a scrumptious breakfast of muesli, fruit, yoghurt and honey (pushing the boat out) and we were ready for the day. To do, pause for dramatic effect, diddly squat. Exactly what the doctor ordered.
Hours of reading books, filling in magazine puzzles, watching tv episodes, interspersed with fried rice, shakes, and the pleasure of an ocean backdrop. It was time to unwind and our bodies didn’t really know if it could handle it. I banged out another job application in vain attempts of being productive and hopeful. Katherine caught up on some WordPress blogs.We went for a stroll out to the sandbar in front of our shore. It was relaxing walking out in the shallows, seeing baby crabs wiggle their calcareous little bottoms into the sand and worms retracting from the shadow we cast over them. The umbrellas on the sandbar were a little out of place. Nobody had used them all day, but perhaps it’s the impending bad weather and not so pristine water conditions that are keeping folks away. I can imagine deck chairs arrayed in the high season and a drinks menu being brought out several times a day. For the present, it was nothing how it could look, but we have good imaginations. The same hotel next door that provides the umbrellas on the sandbar are the same same ones that rake the sand and leave the detritus in front of our hut and plays films on the outdoor screen. Not to worry, we enjoyed the flame poles they stuck in the shallows and the giant, illuminated ‘love’ sign on wooden platforms. It’s a nice feature and probably for the benefit of the honeymoon suite right next to us. So, we’re doing pretty good with cheaper accommodation (presumably), fresher food (we can see it cooked from scratch) and the same views (albeit ours has a bit more rubbish). Not bad work on Katherine’s part to find us this pad. Score!Sunday 16th October 2016
Sniffing all night, constant wriggling and when she did get some sleep I’m sure it was with bad dreams – fitful and restless. Then there was the beeping: a car honking away from someone who had clearly blocked in him/her and they were pissed. So it continued for at least 15mins. There was always the hope of falling back to sleep and getting an hour rest, but no, the brain had clearly written off any decent rest for the night. A cruel joke and I’m now pretty tired writing today’s blog.
A few hours adding photos to blog, a leisurely shower and we finally descended to reception to continue work on the laptop and iPad. I found a nice vacancy for January 2017, so even though the deadline isn’t for another fortnight, it was best to plough through it and that way have the opportunity to apply for something else at another time. Katherine went and got us lunch. A nice treat of a toastie sandwich AND a pot of noodles. It kept me going for the afternoon and even when I wanted to throw the little netbooks across the room – the little blue circle constantly spinning, but not loading my gmail to send the application. I think the combination of guests watching Power Rangers and the staff watching a live stream of events was crippling the poor wifi. I do not for one second begrudge the staff this streaming – watching events and mourners after the loss of their king. Suspicions the night before were confirmed and the sadness was felt in the city.
I grabbed us a take away dinner from our restaurant. The streets were relatively quiet, but traffic was already a nightmare. I think businesses are closing early and everyone is off to pay their respect to the royal family. 2x sets of red curry later and we hailed a taxi to get us to the station. Leaving earlier than necessary for precaution, we were there with almost an hour before our bus should arrive. The railway station seems more organised than we remembered it from 3 years ago and the air conditioning was blissful. Sticking our heads outside before 18:50 at the rendez-vous, we waited another 40minutes before a rep appeared to tell us the bus was severely delayed in the traffic. Go back inside and enjoy the cool air. I love this rep.
We noticed that somewhere between 70 – 90% of the Thai nationalities were wearing black. Staying out of the way in the main hall we watched the throng of tourists flit about with the stickers we had been tagged with. Now on a bus at 21:10, Katherine has had her toes rolled over, an elbow to the tummy and a reclining chair bang her knees… all from the same obnoxious girl from NYC. My ears are bleeding from the mixtures of loud laughter, incessant coughing, constant chatter and the rattle of the overhead luggage compartment. I did say I was tired, I may just kill someone during the night – I have been watching a few episodes of Dexter, I’ll only take out the ones interrupting my serenity and calm. 😜 Enough petty talk and jest, I’m going to watch something on the iPad and hopefully get some sleep.
Friday 14th October 2016
Since we had an early bus, we had to get up early to pack away the clothes that we had hung up around our room last night. Most things had dried, I think – or maybe they still have some moisture in them… I’m sure we will smell delightful in a few days!! We had waited to do Jayne’s injection until we could find a safe place to dispose of the needle – fortunately, the pharmacy attached to the guesthouse had a sharps box so I was good to stab her with sharp needles!!! Managed to get everything sorted and we were ready with enough time to eat our slightly stale generic brand cornflakes with Milo chocolate milk.
The mini bus drive to Sihanoukville was easy except for the three irritating Australians sat behind us. Even our headphones and loud music could barely drown out their ridiculous conversation and frustrating travel bragging. It was made even worse by the metre by metre run down of how close they were getting to their hostel only to then be subjected to repeats of ‘where are we going?’, ‘It’s too far away!’ and ‘Oh no, we’ll have to get a TukTuk’ for the last ten minutes of the journey as we drove further away from it. When we arrived, they even refused to get out of the minibus as we weren’t at the bus station. Had to point out that we weren’t on a BUS and that’s why we weren’t at the BUS station. We chucked our bags on our backs and walked quickly away from them and up the hill to our guesthouse. Must have been there for all of two minutes when it began raining – and it wasn’t light rain. It was full-on typhoon type rain, so relentless that with the pounding of raindrops on the roof we could barely hear each other speak! From previous experience, the rain in SE Asia usually stops after a while. However, this was clearly no usual SE Asian rain storm – it went on all afternoon! Just when we thought it was slowing down a bit, it would pick up again with incredible gusto! Even the guesthouse staff seemed surprised at how long it was lasting. Fortunately, the guesthouse has a bar, restaurant, pool table and decent wifi so we were able to entertain ourselves for the rest of the morning and early afternoon. The guesthouse manager was apologetic about the rain but, actually, it suited us fine. There isn’t much to do in Sihanoukville apart from go to the beach or get wasted. We had come so we could see the beach in Cambodia and to visit Narae’s friends vegan cafe (which was closed on Mondays) but we weren’t too disappointed that we couldn’t even get there. We are both tired and could definitely do with taking it slower than we have done in the past.A little bit of google searching and we found a cinema just opposite our guesthouse. I say a cinema but it was a place where you rented a private room full of sofas and a huge screen to watch any film from their collection. It was actually kind of amazing and makes me really tempted to turn our spare room into a cinema when we get home…We choose to watch ‘Mike and Dave need wedding dates’ and ordered a four cheese pizza too, although we declined the offer to make it a ‘happy’ pizza.
The film was funnier than either of us expected and it was a great way to waste away a wet afternoon.
When we left the cinema, the rain had slowed to a light drizzle so we headed to the beach to have a look. The people stood outside each restaurant and bar trying to entice people in as they walked past with special food or drink offers seemed more in keeping with Magaluf than with Cambodia but I guess it is known for being a bit of a party place in the high season.
Back to the guesthouse for a couple of games of pool – Jayne beat me both times. In fact, on the first game, she had managed to pot all her balls and the black before I even got a chance to pot one of mine! An episode of ‘Quantico’ before snuggling down in our bed with comfy mattresses – it must be a southern Cambodia thing.
Monday 10th October 2016
The early morning yesterday clearly affected us more than we had thought… Neither of use surfaced from deep slumber until after 9am! The perils of travelling long term are that neither of us are used to getting up early anymore, let alone on a regular basis – goodness knows how we are going to survive when we return to work!
Pottering around the room, slowly getting ready, clearly was for a reason! Just as we were discussing what to do for the day, I got an email alert from TES jobs… There is a brand new SEN school looking for teachers for January 2017, not far from where we live. A few emails back and forth between me and the school about the role and school meant that any plans for today were out the window as I was going to apply for this job instead! Sorry Jayne.
Knowing that applying for this job on the iPad was not going to be easy and was going to be incredibly frustrating, we headed into town to find an internet cafe. We walked through the gardens just outside of town, enjoying the peace, quiet and beautiful space before we arrived in the manic Main Street. Stopping at our new favourite Pho restaurant, we slurped away on noodle soup – Jayne adding enough chilli in hers to feed an army! – before we found an internet cafe so I could get started. Jayne popped out into town to sort out booking a taxi for tomorrow so that we can visit the second UNESCO site in Cambodia – Preah Vihear – meaning that we have visited the only two sites in Cambodia and it will possibly the last one that we will be able to visit before our one-year travelling anniversary.
Tucked in a little cubical in a darkened room with Cambodian men, I had vivid memories of the man watching porn all the way back in India so I was delighted when Jayne came back! Three hours later, I was done and Jayne was bored! There is only so much research and Facebook you can do in a room that stinks of cigarette smoke, despite the no smoking (and no guns!) signs everywhere! Leaving the cafe, I was surprised to see that it was getting dark – apologetic for ruining our day, I treated Jayne to a drink as we walked back to our hotel. I had a ginger bear and Jayne continued her trial of new drinks. This time she chose a weird drink that was a mix between cherry coke and cough medicine!
Got back to the hotel and got a message from Hoai asking us out for dinner. Had about an hour at the hotel before we needed to head back into town. Went to a traditional Khmer restaurant in The Lane. I had a really nice spicy curry whilst Jayne had beef with ginger. Hoai had a soup which he let us try – the overpowering smell and taste of stinky fish was unforgettable. So glad that he had ordered it! Finished our meal at the Blue Pumpkin cafe for some ice cream before catching a tuktuk back to our hotel. Thursday 29th September 2016