It is now 7:30 pm and the temperature is 33 degrees with 70% humidity, I'm sitting on the balcony writing this with the sweat dripping down down my back into my knickers, down my arms and dripping off my forehead onto the computer - it is not pleasant and doesn't bode well for sleep tonight.
The last week has been busy for many different reasons, but an enjoyable one despite the dreadful things which have happened here. Wednesday morning was blighted when we heard tha a night club in town had burnt down and that there were many deaths. Reports say there were 6 deaths - 1 Australian guy and the rest Khmer, but the word on the street says at least 20 more people are unaccounted for, but as they are Khmer it doesn't matter. The blame is being put on overloading the very poor electrical wiring and that there was only one exit which was locked to stop people leaving without paying! This is the third seriuos electrical fire in3 yrs which have caused many deaths. The Khmers owners have vanished, but nothing will happen due to their connections. Apparently, they own many places in town, so one suspects that there are other disasters waiting to happen.
Thursday was the Monk's blessing of the new Disability House at Grace House, so we all had to wear on outfit which was in keeping with a visit by monks and village elders. Luckily I have my Khmer skirt, but I had to safety pin it on, as it is now far too big for me. I managed to sit still for the blessing, and keep the soles of my feet away from everyone, but my poor ankle bones were hurtung as they were squashed against the hard tiles. Once that was over and the invited guests had been given something to eat and drink each class performed a song or two for the visitors - Phearom and my class children were the most self conscious, but managed to remember the English words to the two songs they sung. Then it was time for birthday cake dancing and games. The same was repeated in the afternoon minus the blessing, but this time there was karioke too - a avourite of the Cambodians.
Tuesday morning I was teaching my english group in Salas' classroom, but Nicki had stayed in for a few minutes to take down some pictures so that she coud put up more Art work. As she pulled the selotape off one, she discovered flat against the wall a frog. She pointed it out to us and I immediately aked the children if they would eat it - the response was screamed loudly, "No cher, It's poisonous, it will kiil you!" Immediately, I bravely went for a pencil tp flick it outside, but again the kids screamed that a long stick was needed,, so Meng rushed out to get one. By this time Nicki and I were laughing hysterically, but once he tried to flick it out with a long stick it began jumping wildly and we both ended up on a table, aware of our bare feet. Eventually, it was outside the classroom and we were able to settle back to work again, but it had given the children a brilliant opportunity to tell us something in English that wasn't prescripted and they did it very well. The children were keen to tell us that that species live in banana trees, and they are taught to recognise them from young. I do remember that the first year I came a family of young children from the village died because the only thing their mother could give them to eat were frogs that she had killed.
It has also been a week of fine dining - Thursday evening for Lou's birthday at Palate - a place which opened whilst I was here last year, and one I wa able to negotiate a good reduction for volunteers, so after I read that their chef had just won Young Cambodian chef of the year we were keen to try it again. It has a wonderful open terrace on its roof with wonderful views of the night sky and river. It appears to be much better managed this time, but service so was so dreadfully slow, however, with the 20% discount the manager had given me we weren't complaining too much. I t was a wonderfully warm evening with a cloudless sky lit by millions of stars. Unfortunately it was either the chef's night off or the cooking of the competition entrants was not of a high standard. However, we have decided that we will go there on my last evening to enjoy its cheap cocktails (I don't like them) and the wonderful night sky and views. Friday evening was to dine at Cuisine Wat Damnack - now that was wonderful - a choice of two degustation menus - 6 courses for 26$, each course, although small, was delicious - a fusion of flavours and ingredients. Apparently, it as been open 2 to 3 yeats but I had never heard of it before. A place I would definitely recommend - expenseive for here, but so cheap in comparison to the UK.
The Saturday ride was as enjoyable as ever, we went the countryside way to the West Baray - the 10 century reservoir built for the Angkorian kingdom, as usual a mixture of stunningly beautiful countryside, local life, poor tracks and a wonderful range of sights. In places, the going was red dust, others deep ruts and deep sand and occasionally some hard core, so it wasn't surprising that two people had punctures, luckily I wasn't one of them. By the time I was back here I was covered in a thick layer of red sand, which had even got through to my knickers, even though I had on top of them tight cycling shorts and then ordinary ones. Two showers were needed before I was completely clean. As Lou had never been to the baray I took her for the identical ride on Sun, but as it was even hotter she found it too long and surprisingly doesn't want to ride with me this week! Once I had eaten and drunk gallons of water my energy level soon returned and I was able to potter around town during the afternoon before planning my school work in the evening.
My busy life, tiredness and lack of a decent internet connection has caused the delay in the completion and posting of this. Hopefully, I'll manage to post one more before I leave.
Have a good week everyone, take care and love to all, J xx