Return to olympia

I wasn’t going to do another post about going to the Olympic Stadium. After all, how much more can I milk this one venue for anecdotes?  Then, I went again this morning and you know what, once again it was its own micro-adventure worthy of record.  How can I let such an occassion melt into perpetual oblivion?  It just doesn’t seem right.

So things that happened today were:

  • Three of us went, but a different three.   We ditched our usual male companion who pleaded fatigue, in favour of a new recruit.  The exceptionally tall volunteer from CWF.  We weren’t sure if our fellow aerobics/ dance class associates would notice the switch, but were keen to find out.
  • En route, we were walking and talking in the dark, when a fellow English speaker greeted us from across the street.  ‘English speakers, here, in the early morning‘ he was declaiming.  He apologised for being American, a good start, turned out he was on his way home, still steaming drunk from the night’s revels, whereas we were just about to start our day.  ‘Goodnight‘ he called after us as we went on our way.
  • The Tuesday class was exceptionally well attended, we are now used to seeing certain people each time.  The old man, smartly dressed, who makes his constitutional round the top of the stadium passed, and this time smiled at me!  He had a companion with him, who seemed bent on overtaking.  He did so.
  • The women did notice the switch in our dancing partner.  They used gestures to ask what had happened to our usual man.  I did a mime to show he was still sound asleep, they laughed appreciatively.
  • We had subs collected at the end of the aerobics class 1500 reil, and then you pay on trust at the end of the Khmer dancing 1000 reil.  It is still mysterious to me why one class costs more than the other and how the money is split.
  • There was no bread seller to disrupt the class today, but purveyors of dried fish and peanuts did try their luck (to no avail)
  • We were distracted in our work out by a very fit guy who was doing a punishing work out running up and down the steps in the stadium repeatedly, sweeping round the whole oval of the arena. With his naked torso, perfectly toned upper body, bronzed and glistening with sweat, his physique accentuated by his spectacular tattoos it is hard to imagine he was not aware of the ripple of excitement his appearance caused as  he made his way into our view.  I was going to say I caught sight of him out of the corner of my eye, but this statement is only precarious truth at best.  All eyes turned on him for a good old gawp as he appeared over the horizon of stairs.  Irrespective of sexual orientation, I would defy anyone not to turn and stare as this god on earth materialised like a vision out of the olympic stadium lit by the glorious rays of sunshine as dawn broke out across Phnom Penh.  That was certainly a sight worth getting up at 5.00 a.m. for!
  • After our session we tried to emulate this running.  We didn’t rock the look anything like as well.
  • At the end of the dance class, the older women taught us how to say a polite farewell. We have got the ‘chum reap sewer’ greeting but goodby is ‘chum reap lear’ or something.  They laughed and smiled appreciatively at our attempts at saying it anyway.
  • We remembered to take a post work out selfie!


  • Once we left, we did our step work out, admired the view and graduated onto the gym equipment.  We did not all make this look effortless.  As we were there, our dance companions espied us and shouted greetings.  I was told ‘you dance good‘  I was so chuffed.

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  • Our new companion introduced us to the previously undiscovered delights of the running man. There is a green man light that shows when you can walk (at your own risk, not much of the traffic abides by the rules of the traffic lights) and how many seconds remain for you to cross the road in relative safety. Well, it’s novel that he’s animated, but that isn’t the point. The point is, that he gets faster the less time there is left.  So basically, it’s telling you that you can cross if you want with 5 seconds to go, but you better be ready to sprint across!  Genius.
  • We paused and bought some weird fermented banana muffins from a roadside vendor.  500 reil each, they were passable if not actually delicious.
  • I finally got to take my shot of the amazing mobiles and plant stall – there are actually  a few all congregated in the same corner.  That happens a lot here, whole areas where every stall seems to sell the same thing whether that is bike parts; household goods or, as in this case, plants.
  • Cyclo coffee rounded off our morning especially well
  • Oh and a random shop sign. Why wouldn’t you want to buy their gorgeous clothes?


That’s all for now.  You may continue with living your life uninterrupted. Thank you for stopping by.


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