Weekends here are reserved for eating, shopping, sleeping, and generally relaxing activities: a great way to recuperate after a week of long teaching days. It always starts with Fish Friday, a street food meal at The Ruths’ attended by various friends, then there is generally a big night out, and often an event or two that I’ve heard about through one friend or another.
This past weekend was a particularly festive and enjoyable one despite Fish Friday being cancelled because I was attending a goodbye party for Erin, a friend I met through dodgeball. Erin has been in Cambodia for three months and I met her soon after she moved to Phnom Penh. She is a wonderful, bubbly, lively person and I’m really going to miss her, particularly the regular “catch ‘em guys” hollers at dodgeball!
Friday night saw a few of us going to a lovely Italian restaurant for a goodbye meal, followed by cocktails at Liquid, a bar I frequent regularly. Liquid is when the night took an … unplanned turn. I had anticipated my “big night out” being Saturday, as usual, and had only planned to have one drink. However when I arrived at the bar, I bumped into a friend I hadn’t seen in a while, Rosie. Now Rosie had been experimenting with Liquid’s cocktail menu and come up with a new drink. I say drink, lethal concoction might be a more accurate term. I can’t remember all of the ingredients but shots of vodka, tequila, gin, and rum were all included, in addition to at least one more spirit. The problem was that it tasted really good! So one turned into three, Jess and Clare turned up, and then the group migrated to another popular bar, Howies, where the Christmas tunes were in full swing. I had previously been lacking festive cheer, predominantly due to the 30 degree heat which we enjoy here day in, day out. However a bit of Wham and the Pogues, tinsel hanging from the ceiling, along with a Santa hat graciously given to me by Becky had me singing my heart out (I could barely speak the next morning), and feeling very much like Christmas is in the air. Despite the sad reason for our night out, Erin’s departure, Friday night was fantastic fun, surrounded by lots of great friends!
Saturday morning was less fantastic but after a few hours lying in my bed, rehydrating and dozing intermittently, I was off to sunbathe with Ruth, Jess, and Clare. Except the sun had other ideas. Just as we had creamed up and were settling down on the roof of a hotel, beside a cute little pool, the clouds rolled in and the wind picked up. Not only had I wasted suncream, I managed to get some in my eye and ended up with a sore, puffy, red eye for the rest of the day. We stayed the course on the roof but absolutely no progress was made on the tan. To console ourselves, we headed to an ice cream shop owned by another friend, Mervin. Indulging in some amazing salted caramel more than made up for the lack of sunshine! So if you’re in Phnom Penh, check out Bubbles Tea and Ice Cream on Street 113, just south of Tuol Sleng – shameless plug for you there Merv!
I had been looking forward to Saturday night for weeks. It was the Phnom Penh Players pantomime! Those of you who know me will be aware that I have been in many a pantomime in my time, approximately eight I think, all proudly performed at Dunsford village hall. Christmas just isn’t Christmas without a pantomime so when I heard that there would be one in Cambodia, I was more than excited. An unusual story: “Will Shakespeare, the pantomime” which was a vague interpretation of Shakespeare in Love, but it totally worked. The pantomime had everything you want to see: thigh slapping (more than usual according to Emily, my friend who played the lead – Will Shakey), a hilarious dame, an excellent villain, idiotic baddie sidekicks, lots of children dressed as animals (where did that tradition come from?), brilliant and hilarious songs, and copious audience participation. And my word do expats throw themselves into the last one. Never have I cheered, boo-ed, “oh yes he did-ed”, and “he’s behind you-ed” more than I did on Saturday night. It was great fun and it reminded me of home so much that I left finally feeling in a Christmas mood! Annoyingly my sun creamed eye had become irritating again so after a brief stint at Eclipse Sky Bar where Hallie, Rachel and I enjoyed the view and some quality live singing, we all headed home for bed.
Sunday was shopping day – Christmas shopping to be precise! It is officially the season to be jolly, and to trawl through the endless stalls in the Russian Market, attempting to explain to sellers that I’m not actually a tourist and I don’t want to be ripped off! A semi-successful endeavour and at least a few presents have been purchased. A thoroughly enjoyable weekend all round – a lovely farewell party, a new cocktail (dubious as to its positivity), a relaxing afternoon at a rooftop pool, a fantastic pantomime, and some retail therapy. I love Phnom Penh!