Building work is everywhere in Phnom Penh, proof reading is not. This is a good thing, as it induces much childish merriment. Also, excellent bill boards promoting the construction of a new high-spec tower block with its very own infinity pool gave me the opportunity to take a high-rise dip. To infinity and beyond indeed! Go me. A parkrun endorsed dip no less.
So we were back to the olympic stadium for our early morning workout today. We’ve missed a couple of weeks what with being off down the Mekong and generally inability to organise ourselves. It was good to be back. It was not good to get up at 5.00 a.m. however, we were rewarded with early morning quiet streets; a fine sunrise over the stadium; twerky man and feisty woman leading the sessions and of course the billboard extravaganza. Our technique was lacking though, it was way harder than I remembered, it seems we must have previously picked up a few steps of the routines almost by accident through immersion, but after a 10 day or so gap we were definitely back to square one.
So we did, or did not do our aerobics/ Khmer dancing routine. Afterwards as we exited the stadium we took more delight than was proportionate in the poster billboards around a massive construction site. I have no idea what these apartments will cost when finished but they do look amazing, and the location and its views across the city would be quite something. Whether the pictures bear any relationship at all to the actual finished product I have no idea, it is quite possible that features shown reflect more an enthusiasm with the software features of the design package than the reality of the building spec, but very enjoyable all the same. We enjoyed lounging by the pool and taking in the views for sure.
We went a different way home. Partly because we were trying to find a Maybank. This is one of the few (only) banks that does not charge you for cash withdrawals. Too late for me as I’ve been using a different cashpoint, and now am at a stage in my travels where I earnestly hope I won’t need to withdraw any more cash. We found ourselves on a street with loads of coach departures points and many banks. We took a stroll back through different streets, it is always fun exploring in the early morning when it is relatively quiet, though we still had to do a death-defying road crossing jumping a mid-point barrier to get to the other side of the road at one point. Six lanes, that got my heart racing more than the work out to be honest. There was a white dove displaying provocatively to a rather dull looking feral pigeon that was not to have its head so easily turned by appearances it would seem. I’ll be honest, I was a bit confused by the world trade centre sign, but who wouldn’t want to shop at the Man Fashion shop? The spunky purple bike pulling the tuk tuk outside is clearly on trend… surely?
Mysteriously (to me) we ended up back near my apartment, and stumbled on a nice looking coffee shop that did excellent coffee for just $1.50 (cheap for that standard) and terrible pastries that must have been a few days old. The staff though were lovely – outnumbering us quite considerably it must be said, and they seemed disproportionately delighted we were there. Maybe we were their first customers of the day, or maybe we are just intrinsically delightful, it’s so hard to be sure? We got as standard a pot of jasmine tea in a beautiful blue teapot. One of our trio ordered an elaborate looking iced chocolate that was a bargain at the intriguingly prices $1.87 (which I’m guessing is a round number in reil). It was pretty spectacular, the top weighted with whipped cream.
It was only afterwards she disclosed she is actually lactose intolerant! Brave woman indeed. Mind you, she is the same person who was horribly ill with some sort of digestive upset during the week off. In the midst of this, a tuk tuk driver, persuaded her and her traveling companion to buy and try some grilled rat from a roadside street vendor. (It tastes like chicken apparently). Her flawless logic suggested to her that her insides were voiding so effectively anyway, there was no possible potential worsening of her digestive system as a consequence of rat ingestion. She is probably right. She reported that the rat itself tasted ‘fine’ its just every time she visualise a rat, or more specifically the sorts of areas in which they live and forage, she found herself involuntarily retching. I’m so happy I’m vegetarian.
Point of information. The rats are allegedly sources from rice fields, where they are a menace. If true, then they would be both free range and organic. In reality, the city streets are crawling with rats, methinks you wouldn’t need to leave the city areas and find a rice field to source a rat. Local people will buy rat as it is cheaper than chicken and you get quite a bit of meat from them too. Chickens here are scrawny and rats fat, draw your own conclusions! I used to have some pet rats at one point, way way back in the mists of time. Brian and Nibble. I had terrible allergic dermatitis everytime I handled them, but they were intelligent, very sweet and extremely fastidious. Despite the warnings about street food, it has the advantage of being freshly cooked, I think it’s OK if you aren’t too worried about knowing what you are eating. Frankly it is sometimes better not to know methinks, truly, ignorance is bliss.
Breakfast over, time to face the day. Teachers’ workshop then teaching. Hey ho.