It’s off to work I go. Well it was this morning anyway. A day working with the crew at Dorsu meant I was up and out fairly early this morning to head into town.
My exit from Flashpackers was slightly delayed by two fire engines with sirens blazing coming flying over the railway line heading out past mine towards the villages near the waterfall. Fire engines are not a common sight here in Cambodia and for a brief second I contemplated following to see where they went (Yep, I admit it, I am that woman who slows down and gawps at accidents on the opposite side of the motorway and generally can’t resist a bit of drama). Thankfully I came to my senses and realised that with the temperature already over 30 degrees before 8am even leisurely pootling into Kampot by bike was going to induce a sweat torrent that would contribute to a general feeling of soggy, clamminess being the main feature of my day and so I instead turned left and started my journey slowly.
I hadn’t gone 100 yards down the road before 3 effusive shouts and waves had been received and reciprocated as I first passed Channy on her way to the spa, followed closely by a much louder Mama returning home after breakfasting in town and then two cute kids who I didn’t know but were desperate to say hello from their squashed in vantage point between mum and dad on the motorbike.
Turning the corner towards the river the final wave of the morning came my way, this time from the mango entrepreneurs turned bodge it bike fixers who spend every daylight hour lounging in hammocks on their little platform over the pond only moving to sell mangoes, cold drinks or dodgy petrol poured from old pop bottles to tourists on their way to the waterfall.
Crossing the main road was a piece of cake, a text book example of judging the gap in between oncoming traffic perfectly so that no stopping was required by me or any of the oncoming traffic.
Unfortunately, my chance to marvel at my own skill and dexterity was short lived as I was challenged by a living roadblock just a few yards down the road. I’m not sure where they’d come from but two cows and three fairly mature calves had managed to get loose and were wandering the road in front of me. A car coming the other way was playing a game of car/cow kiss chase with one of the adults as each move the driver made was countered by the cattle and stalemate prevailed. Thankfully, this opened up a window of opportunity for me as the two calves who weren’t lazily chewing the roadside weeds with adult number two wandered over to see what was going on and I took my chance and cycled through the narrow gap that opened up. A little further down the road I turned back to witness the playground antics between cow and car were still in full swing and had a little giggle as I turned to cross the bridge into town.
In the middle of the bridge three motorbikes were parked behind each other seemingly abandoned. Closer investigation revealed three men whom I assume were the owners balancing on the metal pipe on the outer side of the bridge without a safety harness and wearing the standard Cambodian safety gear of flip flops and a floppy sunhat as they sanded furiously in preparation for the bridge to receive a new coat of paint. The old bridge appears to be the last in a long line of Kampot’s concrete fixtures to receive the new coat of paint treatment as the last few weeks leading up to and post Khmer New Year have seen the kerb of every road spruced up with a new layer of yellow and black striping with the new bridge also receiving the same striped treatment (this latter event occurred overnight causing me to question my sobriety as I did a double take the morning after the clandestine event occurred). I’m kind of hoping that the job lot of yellow and black the provincial government has managed to purloin from who knows where has run out though and a more subtle paint finish will be applied to the quirky structure that is the ramshackle old bridge but only time will tell if that’s the case.
Safely across the bridge, town awaits me, the streets still relatively quiet as many businesses are yet to open for the day, the ones that would usually have been up and running moved on in preparation for the rumoured 42-125 storey monstrosity of yesterday’s writings, although there still absolutely zero sign of any kind of work starting on the site as of yet – maybe they’re going to build the submarine port first?!?
Further on and the two 4ft square holes that were last night being dug under floodlights at the end of Old Market have been badly filled in – here in Kampot it seems that we not only organically develop potholes, we purposely create them, something I need to remember when flooded roads hide such intimate body part damaging hazards from view.
I plonk myself down at the café across from Dorsu, the helpful staff rushing over to crank up the fans obviously aware of what’s about to be omitted from every pore on my body and face. Like a 47 year old Linus from the Peanuts Gang I grasp my trusty blankie (it’s actually a microfibre towel) which is never far from my hand to mop up the flood that’s starting to pour at warp speed down my face and neck whilst at the same time taking a moment to just sit back and marvel at the spectacle that is my ever so slightly bonkers world.