So basically in Siem Reap I have two lives – my school life and my other life, which lets face it, I may as well call my Pub Street life – and it’s amazing how much the two coincide! I feel like I’ve told a lot of random stories about school, which is really the main reason I’m here, but I feel that seeing Pub Street has also played such a big part in my life over the past couple of months, you really deserve to be introduced to that as well…
This past weekend was epic, not just your average, run-of-the-mill Pub Street night out. For starters, Friday was Courtnay’s last day at school, which was so weird for me, let alone her, seeing she literally started at ABCs the day before me and since Amelia left, we have been the only two there…now I have to spend two hours a day by myself in my rides to and from school! Anyway, as Courtnay taught the oldest class there, her kids actually got what it meant for her to be leaving, and they were devastated, literally sobbing uncontrollably, which of course made leaving even harder for her…it was so heart breaking, it made me want to cry. And it’s so hard as how can you stay in contact with the kids themselves; write letters? I doubt they would even be able to afford the postage. Anyway, needless to say, Friday was quite depressing, which meant at lunch, as well as our regular one mango shake, one mixed fruit shake, one vegetable fried rice with cashew nuts and one fresh spring rolls with chicken, we also had two iced coffees with Baileys ☺ And after school, laden with sweat and dust in our finest school clothes, we went to the ever so classy FCC (Foreign Correspondents’ Club) for sangria happy hour…even if we’d dressed up to go there I doubt we would have had enough class!
The first weekend in December also happens to be the weekend that Siem Reap is inundated with extremely keen fit people who decide they want to ride a bike or run out around all the temples. Random, of all the reasons to come to Siem Reap, and there are many, but to exercise does not rate highly among them for me. However, that meant that Friday night was a pretty quiet one by Pub Street standards, which was awesome seeing Saturday night was Courtnay’s massive white out party for her birthday (and for the 1000th time, no it was not a racist party, it was a white out party seeing Ankgor What?!, the bar we had it at, is pretty much built from UV lights, so seeing the public would still be there of course, then we could see who was there for the party.) Anyway, we went out briefly on Friday and were talking to this expat, who amazingly in this small town we hadn’t met before, and he was like “hey, I heard there’s this massive white party here tomorrow night”…amazing the power of Facebook in a small town!
On Saturday morning we awoke to many grumpy people in our house, as there was a wedding on next door all weekend, which started with monks chanting and 4am apparently, and that or horrendous, tinny Cambodian pop music continued until about 12am this morning. However, luckily for Courtnay and I, both of our rooms (although we only really use one of them, the other just has stuff in it) are on the opposite side of the building to the noise…all that woke us up was the crappy quality Cambodian curtains, that seem to be a staple on every window in this country (we were good citizens and cleaned out all our spare beds for lodgers the following night.) However, despite the lack of sleep on universal sleep-in day, everyone was in fine form for Saturday night.
We had dinner first at Ankgor Famous, this little restaurant that we always go to as they have free popcorn, free fruit salad, 50 cent beer and buy one, get one free cocktails. It’s entirely Khmer run, and the girls there love us, as whenever we go we sit out the front and convince people to come in, so they don’t have to stand there spruking about their free popcorn, etc, etc. I also bought a cake, which was good, except the fans there are so intense that the candles just didn’t light, but it was the first real dessert I think I’ve had since I left home. Really I think I bought it more for myself than for Courtnay!
Then we went to Ankgor What?! and it was awesome coz so many people came out, not just our usual crew of younger volunteers. Tammy and Matt who run ABCs came, Sherry and Gemma who work for Globalteer (the agency we volunteer through), random travellers we had met earlier in the week and invited, friends we know just from generally hanging out on Pub Street too much, our own personal tuk tuk driver, Bruce Lee, bartenders from possibly the only other place in town we frequent enough to call them friends, plus a whole lot of volunteers who have been here for like a month and I don’t think I’ve ever seen them out before. And not only were they out, they were dancing on the tables! (Really, that is the only place to be seen in Ankgor What!? Although technically you can’t actually dance on the tables, you can dance on the benches or on the back of the benches…if you dance on the tables the security guards come along with sticks and hit your legs until you get off. It’s actually quite a fun challenge to see how long you can get away with being on there until they see you.) Kate and Julie, two other Globalteer volunteers, did the bike race that morning and they were in fine form. Julie even got a medal for being the oldest woman to compete in the race, and she backed that up by dancing on the tables and Ankgor What?! Although she did admit the next day that she had had a couple of cosmos earlier, and that they may have knocked her around a bit! At 12 Charlie, the owner, turned the music off and the whole bar sang Happy Birthday. And Courtnay could get all the buckets she wanted for free, so pretty much everyone we knew got free drinks all night as we just passed them all around – mmmm, so hygienic! So Court had what she said was the birthday ever, and I think we both agree that that was definitely the best night we’ve had on Pub Street ever…and there’s been a lot to choose from so that’s a pretty big call! There was a minor incident of mine where I was dancing on the top of the benches and fell off backwards into the crowd on the dance floor and pulled someone else I don’t know very well down with me…they were quite angry at the time, but I’ve only got a grazed elbow so it could have been worse!
Sunday was Courtnay’s actual birthday, so me, her, Estelle, another volunteer here from Tassie, and Will, who’s from Armidale, had a bit of a splurge day. We had brunch at Blue Pumpkin, which was about $6 a meal – expensive! Then we went to some posh hotel’s pool (again, a little too classy), had a massage, had Bailey’s milkshakes and then that night me, Court and Estelle went out again (everyone else said they couldn’t sleep the night before because of the wedding so they needed to get an early night – why stay at home then when the wedding’s still on, it’s the perfect excuse to go out!). Court had steak for dinner, which apparently was a massive deal for her - don’t see the appeal myself – and then we went to Temple Club for buckets, as we felt a bit bad we hadn’t been there the night before, as we usually start off there always, before heading over to Ankgor What. There are really cool Khmer staff there, Sally, Sally’s sister (they’re not actually sisters but they look similar and we don’t know the other one’s name) and Charlie, and this awesome security guard, who shakes my hand every time he sees me. He is also awesome as every time you buy a bucket, which for us is fairly regularly, you get a free t-shirt. You could clothe the whole of Cambodia with these t-shirts, except for the fact that they are bar t-shirts so that’s not entirely appropriate. Anyway, the reason the security guard is awesome is because we got bored of having so many t-shirts, so we invented a game where you tie them in a knot, throw them at the fan and see what table they land at. Then the security guard goes and gets it and brings it back to us! Hilarious! Except for this one time when Amelia did it and blew a light bulb…imagine if we were responsible for a black out on Pub Street…what would we do?! Anyway, there were no such immature shenanigans going on last night, but Estelle and I did manage to get them to play Happy Birthday at Temple as well and make the whole bar sing to Court, which was an achievement.
Oh and how could I forget – I totally made Courtnay’s birthday by having a fish spa! (Those things where you sit on the edge and dangle your feet in and the fish are meant to eat the dead skin off them? They are everywhere in Siem Reap.) Court and I set each other challenges from time to time, and I failed one and that was my punishment…I can’t believe I agreed to it! In case you didn’t know, I hate fish in all forms – alive or dead – and I had to sit with my feet in there for five minutes, but everyone got so bored of me sitting on the edge of the tank having a panic attack, that in the end I only had to put one foot in…I think I may have killed a few fish in the process as well with all of my violent thrashing. We are friends with one of the fish spa men, James, so we went to his one, but I really think we may have done him more of a disservice by frightening all his customers away and killing half his fish! Needless to say, it was a horrendous experience and every time I think about it my foot feels violated! But yes it is on video, so I can prove that I have done it and will never have to do it again.
So yes that was this weekend just gone, which unbelievably was my last full weekend in Siem Reap seeing we are going to go to Battambang this weekend for a music festival. I can’t believe how fast this time has flown…it sounds cliché but I cannot even begin to contemplate the thought of leaving Siem Reap yet! I thought I came back here to get it out of my system, but now I don’t know if I ever will. All I know is that I will definitely be back – I thought two weeks wasn’t long enough, well neither is two months!