Tuesday, November 23, 2010

goodbye sweet Kep

Last night was an enormous storm - there were torrential rains much of the night, with booming thunder and streaks of lightning. I loved it, and such a nice way to end our time in Kep.

I'll really miss our lovely bungalow
Our last gorgeous sunset; we knew a storm was coming, but.....

WOW look at that storm cloud!
We had breakfast this morning and then got in our cab for the 3-hour trip back to Phnom Penh. The roads were so bad, so terribly bumpy, that there was no possibility of knitting to help pass the time, but I did make a few notes of things I wanted to be sure to comment on, so I don't forget:
  • the surprising popularity of bocce ball! we didn't see it being played anywhere in Phnom Penh, but we did see it a lot in the countryside around Kep and Kampot. Weird, right?
  • our hotel in Kep, the Veranda Resort, was really wonderful. Marc and I would love to come back and stay for a week, partly because we just loved Kep and the area, and partly because it was such a lovely, lovely place to stay. (It is a little strange, though, having the peace and quiet wrecked by coconuts crashing into the roof, knocking the tiles off.) One thing that was less than ideal, though, was the security. The room didn't have a safe, and we were told at the front desk that we could leave cash in their safe if we wanted. Well, we wanted to do that! So the first night, we left our cash with them, got our little receipt, sealed the envelope and handed it over to them, along with our passports. The next morning we wanted our passports and we watched in shock as they opened the "safe"......a canvas bag, hanging on the back of a chair. Right there. Easy reach. It may have had a zipper, but maybe there was just a flap. And don't think "canvas bank bag" that might have a lock or something. NO. Think shoulder bag, purse, that kind of bag. There was all our money, right there. Any unscrupulous person who saw the set-up could just walk behind the counter any of the numerous times there was no one there, and lifted the whole thing. 
  • It's often sweltering here, as you'd expect in a tropical area that has a monsoon season. Sweltering. Muggy. Intense (for me, though Marc loves it). But the Cambodians wear a LOT of clothing, including long-sleeved sweaters and hoodies, simultaneously. There I'll be, panting and dripping sweat, and there they'll be in layers and hoodies. What is up with THAT.
  • And another what's up with that: we can't get any cell phone reception in Phoenicia, just upstate in NY, but everyone here, in every remote bit of countryside, has at least one cell phone that's in constant use. 
  • In Vietnam, it's like everyone is an entrepreneur on speed. "Want to buy a bra? No? Then can I make you some lunch? No? Then want a ride somewhere?" Right in front of obvious communist signs, too. It's like screw the political system, everyone's a mini-capitalist. But here, the entrepreneurial spirit isn't in evidence to the same degree. A huge exception is Pharey, our tuktuk driver from yesterday in Kep. He had two phones, and he was always setting up some kind of deal for someone. He stopped to help a couple of western girls get on a bus, then told us that he'd taken them to Kampot the day before. He knew everyone, it seemed, waved to everyone, and was always upselling us. It wasn't offensive or aggressive, but he was ... um ... earnest.
So now we're in the Phnom Penh airport waiting for our flight to Siem Reap. Tomorrow, Thanksgiving at home, will be very different for us. Our plan is to see Angkor Wat, and it's also the national day of mourning for all those lost at the Water Festival. It'll be the most unusual Thanksgiving I've ever spent, that's for sure.

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