That’s what Stephanie (in charge of Ganesha resort this week) said when I returned this evening!
It’s the Water Festival time in Cambodia and everything is closed including Hope School so I have had a ‘quiet week to myself’ in Kampot.
So let me begin with Monday…I went into town and spent a few hours looking around Kampot. It is the sort of place where you come to have a look but end up staying and it’s been described to me as ‘one big village’.
I had arranged to have my hair done by a local lady who was recommended to me after I made enquires, she wasn’t a hairdresser but has had some experience. There are no hairdressing salons here. I was apprehensive but I was desperate! It’s the one thing that I almost can’t do without. She was just as nervous and I was taken upstairs, separated from her massage and nail clients. Although she had her own way of doing hair she was diligently paying attention to detail and we were both very happy with the end result which for me was all that mattered!
As dusk was looming I decided that it was time to go back to Ganesha and took a tuk tuk for the four kilometre journey. After driving past the usual left hand turn he went a further half a kilometre over a small bridge and took a right hand turn onto a small track which was simply a mud bath. I said this isn’t the way and he said in broken English that the other way was flooded and unpassable, (it wasn’t of course). He then stopped and said I should walk as it was only ‘short way’! I am not sure what I was thinking of when I paid him. As he was turning round and looking at my bemused face, he very kindly pointed his finger to direct me where to walk so I thanked him and to be honest you couldn’t see him for dust. Never one to be beaten I set off determinedly, after a few minutes I took off both shoes which were now covered in mud and walked barefoot which was better as I could check how deep it was as I went along literally inch by inch at some points but by now it was getting dark. I passed a few local houses with the dogs barking at me. I grabbed a couple of branches of bamboo to steady myself which were dry and split so I gave that up as a bad idea as I almost fell! I slipped and lost my balance several times as it was the kind of wet clay that a potter uses. It was eerie amongst the mangroves and I won’t deny that I felt scared. There was a moment when I realised that there was no going back and eventually I felt gravel under my feet arriving in the dark, dishevelled but totally relieved!
I had tried twice to go out on the ‘relaxing sunset cruise’ but the weather was against it. Third time lucky? I had spent a lovely Tuesday with two guys from Medicines Sans Frontiers. We hired a tuk tuk and went on a tour to Kampot pepper plantation, the secret lake, the salt fields and Kep visiting the famous crab market with lunch overlooking the sea.
We made it back to Ganesha just in time for the cruise. It was an interesting looking boat but not particularly steadfast and so we sat in a line. Before we reached the river he somehow overshot a bend and we careered into the bank which was hilarious and I was grateful that Majel was in the front! It was beautiful in the river with a gentle sunset, not dramatic, just soft and calming. We had just turned back into the mangroves when the engine stalled and we again headed for the bank! We offered to help but there was only one oar and no light so we were now in darkness. Luckily Majel had a torch and after several attempts the engine restarted managing to get us almost back before it died!
Now Wednesday was quiet as I did not venture out but Thursday’s story makes up for that! I thought that I might take a short stroll. I mentioned this to Stephanie who said how pleasant it was to walk to La Champa, another resort through the paddy fields. She gave me a map and took the trouble to make sure that I knew where I was going telling me to come back on the canal path this time. What could possibly go wrong?
It was hot so I put my umbrella up but the rice that is nearly ripe is tall and again it was muddy in places with only a small channel between each field, a tad overwhelming and it was further than it appeared to be but all was well until I reached the houses in the photo and realised that I had to walk through someone’s property to reach the road! I took the photo in a nano second before the dogs realised I was there (I think they were eating). I took a deep breath as they started barking and coming at me. By now I was swinging my umbrella at them and calling for help like some kind of demented or eccentric English lady. A woman came out shouting and when they took no notice she threw sticks at them, the tiny puppy was the fiercest! She came over to me, we held hands like long lost friends and she called her husband to sort the dogs out!
I had a cold drink by the river in La Champa and then it was only a five minute walk to the nearby Pagoda. I could hear very loud taped music and wasn’t sure if there was a ceremony going on. The young monk was nineteen years old and he has been a monk for three years. The Buddhist nuns loved having their photo taken and were all laughing at each other looking at them but note the serious pose as the photo was being taken despite my efforts to make them smile!
I looked at the map and ended up by the muddy path, map reading has never been a particular strength of mine so I turned back on myself. Needless to say it all became so confusing that I wasn’t even sure which way I was going. I tried a few different options but couldn’t get my bearings. As I was heading back down a track I had taken, a man stopped on his motorbike. He hardly spoke English but when I said Ganesha he nodded and as it was pitch black now I hopped on his bike! We got back onto the road and I knew after a few minutes that we had gone too far but when I tried to say he just said ‘no English’ so I asked him to stop which he did immediately and as I was about to go walkabout again, a guy called to us from across the road. He could speak a few words of English but couldn’t read the map so here I was playing charades doing buffalo impressions and trying to be a river! I asked him if his friend was a good guy and he said that he helped everybody so between us we worked out where we were, more importantly where we were going, and we set off again. On the way his English seemed to have improved somewhat as he asked me if I was married! Bless him is all I can say as he took me safely down that difficult road, he was simply a hero to me.
Check out time on Friday and as the couple who moved into my old room were going into town we shared a tuk tuk enjoying our conversation. No prizes for guessing what happened next but yes…the tuk tuk suddenly came to a grinding halt so we got out and never one to miss a photo opportunity these days…she was laughing as she was calling for one dollar I pointed and said what for the buffalo?
Fifteen minutes later, by joining a couple of wires with a pair of pliers, the problem was solved. A group of children had gathered to wave us goodbye, perhaps a fitting end to my stay at Ganesha and my final story!