By now I was sooooooooo tired, bit spacey headed, though I attributed this partly to having perhaps not eaten all day and being sleep deprived too, oh well, might help with celebrations!
This evening was a tuk tuk ride out of town to a home where we had a private feast. The food was fantastic. The only initial oddity is that the three veggies amongst us were corralled together – it made sense when the food was served, you cook it yourself essentially, so to keep meat and tofu separate required separate cooking stations.
Began with deep-fried aubergines, which were the most exquisite thing I’ve ever tasted. Followed by an elaborately brought mini-stove, atop of which was put a basin with a thing like an upturned colander within. We were brought a plate of veg and tofu (meat eaters had various meats as well), and a knob of butter. You melted butter over the top of the ‘colander’, then laid tofu (or meat) to heat on that with the steam from the basin which contained some stock, creating a sort of moat around the upturned colander mountain. You then dropped assorted veg into the stock so it could all cook, and when done, ladled it out into a little bowl to eat from. It was delicious, and elaborate to look at, very spectacular with the little real flame stoves and plumes of steam.
We were all rather subdued. I think maybe jet-lagged, some of us having a few stomach issues, plus we don’t know each other, and whilst the group has gelled fine, the shadow of compulsory karaoke was looming large. Also the midges/ mosquitoes were pretty bad. I wasn’t having fun, though it was good to eat some ‘proper’ food at last.
Once we’d eaten, our guide gently cajoled us into having a stab at karaoke. He kicked it off with an impressively tuneless and echoey rendition of ‘Imagine’ and imagine it at your peril. It did break the ice though. To be fair to him, the microphones had a spectacularly distorting effect.
The guy running the karaoke machine sat in the corner looking a bit bored, and periodically he flashed up a suggestion. Unfortunately, there was little any of us had in common musically speaking. I felt we should have a go, so agreed to, and then got landed with something from Dirty Dancing to which I did not know the tune. It was excruciating. Later on me and the Australian guy who is actually British did a non-mike version of ‘My Way’ and another couple waded through something non-specific. It was rather forced fun, definitely awkward. The youngest amongst sat rigid with fear in case we compelled him to perform. Probably just being present at such an affair was far too out of his comfort zone to be quite bearable without protest. He seemed numb with shock and stared at the floor. I know how he felt. We were all relieved when quite suddenly it ended. We handed over out $12 a head and were swept back to the hotel by tuk tuk. Phew. Glad that was over.
‘Surely I’ll sleep tonight’ I thought. I did, for about 2 hours, then work feeling dire, and ended up retching over the loo all night. I don’t even think I’m ill or even have had food poisoning, it’s more like my body is in revolt with no sleep, too much heat and unfamiliar food. Not exactly the perfect end to the perfect day. Oh well, I wanted to lose weight in Cambodia.