Done and dusty.
Thanks to everyone for their Christmas presents it will all come in very handy starting tomorrow when we touch down in NZ. We couldn't have chosen a better country for Christmas - the Khmers know how to celebrate, from little kids dressed as Santa to setting off fireworks in the middle of a dancing crowd for new years. All week the Cambodians wanted to know what we would be doing for 'MerryChristmas' and how we would be celebrating 'HappyNewYear'. We Had a lovely hotel for Christmas (thanks Mum and Dad) and spent our first 3 days in Siem reap lounging by the sparkling pool, being waited upon, given complimentary cold towels and peanuts and jasmine tea and free massage. I treated the place like a spa- it was heaven. We had a 'fish massage' on pub street on Christmas Eve. This is where you dangle your feet in a tank of 'Dr fish' and they nibble your dead skin (I think i mentioned it in our first entry). I have a particular dislike to things being around my feet when they are in water and Henry has really ticklish feet so I'm not sure why we did this. I spent the whole 20 minutes squealing and puffing my cheeks out, much to the amusement of some Japanese tourists and Hen could only dip his heels in. There were some big fish in there and the little ones kept getting trapped between my toes and i had to wriggle them out. It was a nauseating feeling. I'm not even sure they had the right fish in there because they didn't just stick to biting dead skin.
For Christmas dinner we had 'Cambodian BBQ' of snake, kangaroo and crocodile which we cooked ourselves on a little stove in the middle of our table. Kangaroo is lovely. Snake a little powdery. After Christmas we had to leave our hotel a go back to a hostel. We got T-shirts a woven bottle holder and a photo with the staff when we checked out so I figured we were on good terms. I asked if we could come back and use the pool considering ordinarily we're not rich enough to stay at their hotel. The manager seemed to think this was funny and welcomed us back all week. We took his offer very seriously and went back the very next day. He gave us free spring rolls and peanuts and water and a cold towel and funny little jelly banana parcels. Then he booked us in for a free massage the next day. We were so excited. So we returned the next day for our massages and when we finished them he set up a free dinner by the pool in our own little booth - half way through our dinner the bar man came to explain that Mr Richard (the manager) had to leave as he was tired but 'everything is free for you tonight'. We had no idea why we were being treated like that but it was good fun. We went back the next day. And so it continued until we had to leave. I never will know what the reason for it was. Great hotel though. I'll already miss being called 'Miss Katie'!
We went to stay at a second guesthouse in Siem Reap that was involved with a free school and we were lucky enough to be given the opportunity to volunteer as English Teachers. It was such good fun and so tiring. We were there for one afternoon helping the kids with their speaking and listening. They all had a great sense of humour especially the little ones. We also went to a concert held by Dr Beat Richner a phenomenal Swiss-German Doctor who has set up 5 free hospitals for children since 1992. His work is amazing and he works tirelessly so that the children of Cambodia have access to medical care. His work is inspirational and it was very interesting to hear his views - all his hospitals run on donations so we bought his book. I wonder if James or Emily or anyone have ever heard of him - i think he is quite famous especially in the TB field.
New year was a good laugh. Pub street filled with people, they put speakers in the street and westerners and Khmers danced until dawn. Although somehow me and Hen found ourselves at the only gay bar in Siem Reap.
We are now back in Bangkok (ugh) it feels even worse than before now that we have the rest of SE Asia to compare it with. Henry shaved his hair off last night it looks really good - better than his old hair that was starting to look a bit like a lego man haircut (his words not mine.)
So we leave for NZ today and we have survived and enjoyed South East Asia. I think an accurate description of SEA is that is is an assault on the senses ranging from the sublime to the ridiculous. The smells are pungent - from one second making you immensely hungry then the next making you wretch. We have seen some of the oddest and most beautiful things along the road, odd creatures, beautiful scenery. The soundtrack of Asia is either the peaceful humming of crickets or thumping club music; the food has been some of the best (pork fried rice) and worse (papaya and crab salad from the river) Ive ever had. I have had more massages in these 2 months than i have had in my 24 years and at times they have sent me into a deep trance at other times I have been biting my teeth together as a small Thai lady jumps on my back. The Buddhists believe in 6 senses - the 6th one being the heart and I think that SEA has definitely played on our heartstrings - we have fallen in and out off love with the place many times within the last 2 months but its definitely got a place in hearts and definitely a place we will be returning to.
Signing off - Kat and Henry