Coffee is a daily ritual here. I am missing my Yorkshire Tea (is there any other sort available, or are the tea-plantations of Sheffield the only ones in the world?) with soya milk of a morning. Nevertheless, needs must. Consequently, I have over the past few weeks built up a relationship of sorts with the coffee vendor outside my apartment. We can’t really communicate. Our relationship hasn’t really evolved much over time, but it is certainly friendly. This woman is the smiliest person I have ever encountered. The first time I approached her, she said something animated in Khmer and I nodded and smiled and got a sweetened iced coffee in return. She sells other beverages, but this has become my staple as neither of us have the communication skills to move things on, anyway, I quite like sweetened iced coffee, even though it is probably slowly killing me with all that sugar and caffeine. I had no idea what it cost the first time, so just randomly held out reil notes until we got to a mutually acceptable trade. I now know it is 3500 reil for this coffee confection.
I’ve taken a photo of the coffee as it comes somewhere, but can’t find it right now. It is basically thick sweetened condensed milk at the bottom, a shot of coffee is added from a steel and black container on the counter, she then whisks away at it with purposeful fury, adds a huge quantity of ice (all this is within a few seconds) a lid is put on, a serviette wrapped around, then a mini plastic bag and finally a straw with a paper covered tip is added and the bounty is handed over with a beam. I pay my dollar or reils and then we play soksabi tag for a bit, as I know this is friendly, but don’t know how it’s supposed to end.
Anyways, because this is one of my (almost) daily interactions, I’ve been wanting to take a photo of her, but no camera alas so I thought that moment had passed. Then, oh joy, a fellow volunteer loaned me her old smart phone for the day, and so I took the opportunity to snap a shot. She looks somewhat posed and comparatively serious, which is a shame as she’s so smiley, but nevertheless here she is. An important, if nameless person, in my daily life in Phnom Penh. I intend to give her a postcard by way of thanks when I leave. I expect that to be an awkward and confused interaction, but of importance nevertheless!
Whilst I’m on the subject of coffee shops. A bit further up the road is another vendor I pass on a daily basis as I take my life in my hands en route to school. I am tickled by this establishment even though I would never patronise it. How could I? It would seem an act of treachery to ‘my’ coffee seller. Even so, I love that it opened early in the new year and proclaims proudly that it has been operating ‘since 2017!’ Oh my! It also has an area of synthetic grass, and alongside the stall a random selection of international objects d’art. I use the term loosely, as I mean things like a miniature model of a red telephone box, a camper van and other such assortments. I’d like a photo of that assemblage too, but that would seem too intrusive. Rather I got these snaps from a respectable distance. I wonder if I’ll come back and find it again one day, and be able to say ‘I was here in 2017, when it all began’. It wont impress anyone, as I probably would have to say that in English and they wouldn’t understand. I do wish I’d thought to bring a random minature model item with me from the UK, it would have been good to leave it with them for proud display amongst their roadside collection of curiosities. There is always next time I suppose…