Amnesia Alert (temporarily only, for which we must all be grateful, or not, depending on our points of view) I forgot all about this blog post, catching up retrospectively I may lose some of the finer details, try to act like you care…
So basically, once we got to Stung Treng we had an hour or so before we rendezvoused with our guide to be briefed about our adventures on the Mekong over the next few days. This was handy, as was the proximity of the market, as my traveling companion had a few essential purchases to make, specifically: shorts; a cap and some sun block. It was good having a project to force us out into the market.
The streets of Stung Treng are all being dug up at the moment, a massive rebuilding and road work project being underway. This mean the place felt pretty chaotic, and it’s hard to know if it is always this way, or if this is unusual. The market was tightly packed and hectic, even at 5.00 p.m. it felt friendly though, and fun to go and explore the labyrinthal lay out of stalls squashed into a pretty compact space.
As we were wandering about, there didn’t seem to be any other tourists about, so we got some attention. I got dive-bombed early on by a pair of children all in red, who set upon me clambering aboard for impromptu piggy backs (though they didn’t seem to know quite how to position themselves for maximum efficiency balancing wise). They were hilarious though, and a good ice breaker. I noticed some of the stall holders laughing at them and us, and I got the impression they were pleased we were game for such boisterous interaction.
There is a video of the piggy backing, but I can’t find it, well I can, but I don’t know how to get it into the blog. Maybe just as well, it’s not flattering. Then again, nor are the stills:
The search for suncream nearly defeated us, I showed my suncream to various stalls and chemists by way of example to no avail. Eventually, at a largish pharmacy type place, we were again told no but realised he was saying ‘no’ to the nivea branding. After more crossed communication we got across that we didn’t care about the brand, we cared about the sunblock. Another woman was called from the back of the shop, and after some conversation she squirreled in amongst the display cupboards and unearthed some sunblock that was expensive, but just the job! In the meantime, I was very tempted by the bottles of ‘Be nice’ I have no idea if you use it on yourself or other people or in what capacity, but wouldn’t it be great if it actually works. Then, if I was having a Ms Grumpy Pants day, I could just bathe in this, and all would be well!
As we tried to find chemists, we kept spotting what were in fact clinics. There seemed to be quite a concentration of them here for some reason. We did pass a hospital on the way in, so I don’t know if it was linked to that. In each clinic though, all of which were basically open to the road, you could see lines and lines of people sitting whilst drips of something or other were administered. I didn’t feel it was appropriate to take a photo, but it was curious.
We had plenty of interactions relating to purchasing of shorts and a cap. All very entertaining, well, I thought so, which is clearly the main thing – and, ultimately succesful. Hoorah!
The market scenes were full of interest. Although it was the end of the day there were still a few fish for sale, and huge piles of fruit stacked up at the wayside. It was all a bit rough around the edges though. Bleak in places, and literally a building site too.
All of this is literally alongside the river, where the evening light showed off the Mekong beautifully, and I made a new friend. I was on fire today, in the making new friends department!
To get to the riverside, we nipped in and through a pagoda. I was most taken by the HR premises within though, this Human Resource Sharpening Association sounds splendid. (Food for thought eh EWFM of IKEA).
We made it back to the hotel for our 6.00 p.m. rendezvous, our guide turned up flustered and late, having got back later from that day’s tour than expected. He took us round the corner to the restaurant we were to honour with our presence a fair few times, even though the evening meal was really vile. I had spring roles, but they were really greasy, as if deep-fried in batter, and the inside was a glutinous unidentifiable mass. It is lucky I did not come on this trip for the cuisine!
Our guide produced a map, and went through our travels. I was now properly excited.
Bring it on!