Wednesday is a no training day. Instead, we are on the move. One of the quirks here at the Ministry of Fish is that when we need to deliver training to Provincial staff we drag them all in to Phnom Penh for 3 days and when Phnom Penh staff need training we ship them out to some province or other, sometimes strategically chosen, other times a pin in the map random choice.
I’m sure I don’t need to tell you which of the above options led us to be heading out to Pursat, which the Lonely Planet, rather generously in my opinion, describes as “no beauty”.
A four hour road trip from Phnom Penh, I am thankfully not subjected to the minibus carrying the trainees, Sophea and his gang, instead bagging front seat in the 4by4 pickup with Loueng and his chosen travelling partners. Much as I was pleased to be in the front, I’m under no illusion as to why this was orchestrated. Nope, not because my legs are the longest of the whole group and nope, not because I’m the only female, but instead because placing me in the front seat means my colleagues don’t have to engage in conversation with me (nor I with them) for the duration of the trip. I plug in to my BBC radio player and bask in the opportunity for a marathon catch up session which is somewhat challenged by the discovery that I am accompanied on this journey by the loudest 3 Cambodians in the whole country. Not only do they talk for the whole 4 hours, but they do so at a volume more suited to a group standing next to the main speaker at V Festival. I crank up the volume until the red “your volume is too high” warning flashes on my screen and then crank it up some more, eventually resorting to placing my fingers on my headphones to hold them into my ears and magnifying the sound. It dawned on me at one point that striking this pose did in fact make me look like I was holding my head in my hands in despair – ironic really when it was perhaps one of only a few points in the last 3 days when despair hasn’t been my go to emotion.
We finally hit Pursat and our home for the next 3 nights – The Century Hotel. The lobby is huge, dark and filled with massive, ugly wood carvings and a vague smell of damp fills the air. Yes, it is indeed exactly like every budget hotel I’ve had the dubious pleasure to stay in in Asia.
Having ascertained a rendevous time (7.30am Cambodian time aka 8.15am rest of the world time) and location for the morning I head to my room. Like the lobby before it’s dark and gloomy and vaguely damp smelling but here we have the added bonus of karaoke booming in from the building next door. The thought of a crap night sleep followed by another day at the leadership training circus fills me with dread. I’m going to need to get my emotional armour sorted if I’m going to survive this!