We've had some torrential rain here over the last week and the weekend wasn't much better. I decided to do a few extra hours on Saturday, so worked from 8-1pm, when I then headed over to my boss's house for a management meeting, but no sooner had I left the hotel the heavens opened and I got thoroughly drenched. The journey only takes a few minutes but by the time I arrived the rain had managed to soak its way right through to 'knickers layer' and I had to spend the entire meeting sitting in a soggy puddle.
Sunday I decided to postpone my sunrise trip to Ta Prohm as the weather was no better, although the sun finally made an appearance in the afternoon for a couple of hours, so I went and sat in the garden at the Singing Tree Café with a watermelon fruit shake. I was going to join the meditation session at 5.30pm but around 3.30pm I received a phone call from my boss inviting me for drinks and dinner at their house, so I headed over there an hour later and Anthony, Fiona, myself and one of their friends, Kaye, spent a very enjoyable few hours chatting, drinking Aussie wine, and eating very good take-out pasta from the Italian just down the road. Whilst eating we had a visitor - a huge (well in comparison to my (bath)room mate I mentioned in my previous blog) Gecko with big red spots. I haven't seen one that size before. However he was far more interested in the juicy leaf-eating insect sitting on the balcony than in us!
Monday I worked 12-8.30pm. I'm really enjoying doing the reservations, although some customers do ask the strangest questions! On leaving work I decided to call into Angkor Market for some cans of Dr Pepper (I've finally found a stockist!) but as I reached the main road which runs through Siem Reap (Sivatha Boulevard) it had turned into a river! Unfortunately it was too dark to take a photo, but believe me when I say the water was so deep it was running across the footboard of my moto. I made it across the 'river' carefully balancing moto, handbag, laptop bag, and trying not to get soaked by the idiots in 4x4s, and made it to the safety of Angkor Market, where after buying my Dr Pepper and a box of 'White Rabbit Candy' for everyone at work to share, I decided the pavement was going to be my best & safest route home!
This evening I joined a Raja Yoga meditation class at a place near the Royal Residence. It's run by an NGO and gives free Introduction to Meditation classes at 5pm with meditation practice following at 6pm. I really enjoyed it and might look at going a couple of times a week. The prices here are nothing like they are back in the UK for yoga/meditation etc and for some reason it feels more authentic. It must be the incense and the distant chanting from the local pagoda!
Siem Reap had another celebrity visitor last week. Jeremy Clarkson was in town, spotted drinking at The Warehouse, whilst (according to my reliably informed source) considering whether to record an episode of Top Gear in Cambodia. I was disappointed not to have seen him (at 6 ft 5+ in a country like Cambodia he would have been hard not to spot!) but at the same time I am glad it was Clarkson I missed and not the gorgeous Richard Hammond! That would have really annoyed me! Anyway, upon his return to the UK he wrote a rather tongue-in-cheek article, which knowing what Clarkson is like, is very amusing but should also be taken with a pinch of salt:
Miss Street-Porter, I have a job for you in Cambodia
Courtesy of Times Online Since we're told charity begins at home, it's better, I've always thought, to give £1m to a hapless British person than 10p to an organisation that provides sandwiches for prisoners in Turkey. Now, however, I have decided that, actually, charity begins in Cambodia. Some people get all dewy-eyed about Africa. That's jolly noble, but I don't see the point because I fear that no matter how much money you pump in, the bejewelled pigs that run the place will pump it straight back out again, into the coffers of Kalashnikov and Mercedes-Benz. The only thing I'd send to the dark continent is a team of SAS hitmen to shoot the likes of Mr Mugabe in the middle of his face. Others would say that we have enough problems on our own shores without getting all teary over the children of Mr Pot. I disagree, because these days, every time I think of underprivileged people in Britain, the hideous face of Shannon Matthews's mum pops into my head, all greasy, fat and stupid, and it's hard to summon up any sympathy at all.Cambodia, though, is different. It's a country of 14m people but between them they have only about 5m legs. In fact, there are 25,000 amputees, the highest ratio per capita of any country in the world. This is not because Cambodians are especially clumsy. It is because of landmines. Nobody knows how many mines were laid during the endless cycle of warfare, but it's sure to be in the millions. What we do know is that since the Vietnamese invaded in 1979 and drove the madman Pol Pot into the hills, 63,000 people have trodden on one. One man has had his left leg blown off four times. They gave him a good prosthetic after the first and second explosions, but since then he's had to make his own out of wood.And it's still going on today. In most places in the world, you can get three rice harvests per year from your paddy field. In Cambodia, it's one. This is partly because the Khmer like a weird sort of rice that's harder to grow, but mostly it's because you set off with your plough and within minutes there's a big bang and your water buffalo has become a crimson mist. As a result of the ordnance lying in every field, no one is fighting for a right to roam in Cambodia. They have no equivalent of the Ramblers Association. They have no concept of Janet Street-Porter. In fact they have no concept of England. Because the education is so poor, most people there believe the world is made up of four countries: Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. Everywhere else is France. All white people are therefore French. Angelina Jolie, who adopted a Cambodian baby, does much to help clear the landmines and has been made a Cambodian citizen, is French. I was French. And every night, most of the men settle down to watch Manchester United and Chelsea slug it out for honours in the French Premier League. I'd never met an adult anywhere in the world (apart from America) who'd never heard of Great Britain. In Cambodia nobody had.What's more, you will never see a Cambodian person wearing sunglasses. Mainly this is because the average wage in Cambodia is less than £400 a year and so Ray-Bans are a bit out of range. But also it's because Cambodians all have flat noses. So sunglasses simply fall onto the floor every time you hop to the shops, and every time your buffalo explodes. That's what did it for me. The sunglasses. Not the education. Not the notion of living in a country where there is no Janet Street-Porter. The landmines made my eyes prickle, but my heart just mushroomed over the idea that they can't afford to wear shades. And that even if they could, they'd keep falling off.I have therefore decided that I must do something. Unfortunately, however, we all reach a point like this when we decide we must help, and then it's so very hard to know what should be done next. Secretly we all know that for every pound we donate to a large charity, only 2p actually reaches the people we have in mind. The rest is spent on adverts for highly paid co-ordinators in The Guardian and expensive offices in London's glittering West End. You always feel you want to go to the root of the problem. But in the bee that's come to nest in my roost, that'll be hard. Earlier this summer a team of Australian doctors happened upon a little girl in the town of Siem Reap. Her face had been horribly disfigured, by a bloody landmine I suppose, and they were overwhelmed with a need to help. They went to meet her parents, and her father was keen that his daughter be sent to Australia for plastic surgery. Her mother, however, went ballistic when she discovered the poor child would once again look normal. "How will she be able to beg then?" she asked. And the Aussie medics were sent packing. I can't even ring the Cambodian government for help because I fear it would be extremely enthusiastic and then all the money I sent over would be spent on fixtures and fittings in the finance minister's next luxury hotel. That's if I could raise any money in the first place. It's hard when money's tight here and everyone else has their own pet project. I suppose I could write to Ray-Ban asking it to design a cheap pair of shades that can be worn by someone who has no nose. But I think it'd be better if I started work on some designs for the most brilliant mine-clearing vehicle the world has ever seen. I'm thinking of strapping some ramblers together, and then . . .