Bored in Kampot

Another cheap, delicious meal… Sigh!

I highly recommend getting bored in a place. Boredom is such a luxury. I can’t remember the last time I was bored, except at work. To be bored means you have time. And time was something I craved so desperately a few weeks ago, before we began our journey of indefinite travel.

We were having a debate over breakfast the other morning as to when we actually arrived in Kampot.

“Was it Wednesday? Or Thursday?”

“Hang on, we got back from Rabbit Island Monday, rented motorbikes Tuesday, then had a lazy day Wednesday, or was is two lazy days?”

We resorted to referring to the dinners we’d had at various eating establishments around town.

“We’ve been to captain Chim’s twice, the rib place once, Frangipani Bar once…”

That made it four nights. We arrived Thursday. Mystery solved.

For the last couple of days, Tyrhone has been doing some work for a client back home. He designs digital art. Of course, if we had our way, he wouldn’t be working so early on in our adventure. But as we are now basically unemployed and living off our savings, we’d be silly to knock back the money.

Money is converted into travel time when you’re on the road.”That’s a whole month of travel”, or “we could live off that for THREE months here!” are common statements heard around our $8-per-night room.

We like to call it our studio apartment. It’s huge, clean, and includes wi-fi and satellite TV. I confess, we have been watching American Idol. It’s a comfortable place for Tyrhone to work, so we decided to stay untill he completes his project. A ‘do-er’ by default, it’s a bit of a challenge for me to stay-put in one place. I thought maybe I was getting bored with Kampot…

Yesterday after breakfast, when Tyrhone returned to the studio, I wandered the around, clicking photos of the picturesque streets (I am a sucker for a door and a bicycle!).

Or a motorbike…

 

I then perused a bookshop for a while, and picked up a compelling first-person account of a ‘survivor’ of Pol Pot’s genocide. With my paper copy in hand (a real book I tell you!), I settled in a beautiful little french-colonial cafe with a fresh banana shake. I was hooked from the first page. But more on that another time….

I returned ‘home’ in time for lunch. Marty, our friend we are travelling with, is a journalist and is also using this time to do some work. We  all needed to eat, so we wandered across the street to an intriguing yet intimidating local food stall.

You know when you want to be adventurous but not at the expense of your lower intestine?

Yeah, well this was one of those times. But, we did it. And we enjoyed it. Relatively so…

The dried, salted fish was surprisingly good.

“Tastes like chicken! KFC-ish…” -Sarah

“Nah, it’s more like bacon.” -Tyrhone

“Chickeny, fishy bacon!” -Sarah

“Glad you  guys said that, ’cause I was definitely thinking it.” -Marty

Time for sweets…

Prolonging their procrastination, the guys were keen for dessert. Now that we had mastered the street stall, we would master the sweet stall. But they didn’t begin untill early evening. Bummer.

We strolled past a corner store, complete with faded pool tables. Diversion found! The guys paid for their hour of play (we’re talking severe procrastination) and I settled in at an old wooden table with my new book.

It wasn’t long before the word on the street got out. A skinny teen with spindly arms and a Justin Bieber haircut sauntered over. A few other passers-by gathered, and the teen was soon joined by some pimply mates. One by one, they strolled over to the cigarette stand, pull out a packet, and lit one up from the lighter attached to the stand by string.

After clarifying the rules to the best of their ability (during the warm up match, ‘Bieber’ had systematically sunk just about every ball on the table), they began a game of doubles, ‘locals’ against ‘visitors’.

The ‘visitors’ got killed.

The ‘locals’ were pool sharks. Shame they didn’t put money down, as they would have cleaned up.

Afterwards, Tyrhone showed them how to roll cigarettes. Marty and I looked at each other guiltily, but reassured ourselves with the fact that they were already smoking. Not being able to communicate with words in any way, this was the only common ground they shared.

As the guys puffed on their fags, Mothers led their toddlers into the store for sweet treats. Mini jelly cups were escorted out, clenched by tiny fists.

Restaurant and cafe owners stopped by on scooters to restock their ice supplies. The shop owner sawed the enormous blocks into smaller, more manageable bricks, before they were carted away on the back of a bike, dripping.

Yet more toddlers darted from behind white-washed walls across the street, chanting “Hello! Hello!” choreographed to waving palms and wide, cheeky grins. I waved, smiled and chanted back, obeying the rules of the exchange. I never grow tired of the kids here, eager to practice their English greetings, some as young as one or two, egged on by proud parents.

A man came and sat at down and picked up my book that rested face down on the table. He took his time perusing the pages and sounding out some of the English words. Then, he took Tyrhone’s sunglasses and placing them on his face, put his down on the table. We took a photo of him and showed it to him, and he seemed impressed. He motioned to do a swap, but it wasn’t a very fair one. We laughed it off, nervously.

***********************************

Yesterday morning, I left the guys to their work, at set off after breakfast on foot.  Walking the length of the riverfront, I passed the dilapidated ‘old bridge’ which had previously signalled the end of town for me. There didn’t seem much beyond it, but I walked on, surveying the large barges hauling tonnes of earth up river from the construction of the new port.

I passed the hospital, then turned right, bound for ‘home’. To my left, a bustling, busy part of town presented itself, and I decided to check it out.

“It’s probably just a busy road with nothing to see,” I thought, but curious, I kept walking.

Turning right onto said busy road, I avoided motor-cycles and cars to peruse the stores, bursting with household goods, toys and clothes.

Maybe I’ll find pyjamas here… (Read about them in my last post.)

I saw a familiar face – Sunglass Guy! Though I probably stood out like a sore thumb in that part of town, I pointed to my sunglasses to remind him of our encounter.

“How much?” he asked me, regarding mine.

“Too much, too much,” I replied and excused myself with a smile and a wave. Even though he was trying to extort me of my sunnies, I couldn’t help but be a little thrilled at the prospect of ‘bumping into’ a local.

On my left, what seemed like hundreds of scooters lined up along a dirty brown wall. There were no foreigners here, this was definitely the ‘local’ part of town. No french-colonial cafes here, people!

A Market! My heart leapt with joy as I weaved through traffic to enter the rabbit-warren of the market’s inner sanctum.

Bingo!

The ancient-looking undercover market was in full Monday-morning swing. Huge vats filled with rice noodles and some sort of dough (for bread, maybe?) were perused by  busy ladies, eager for a good deal.

Vegetable stalls sat alongside food stalls serving up steaming snacks that were unrecognisable to me. The ground underfoot was uneven, propped up by wooded planks. I followed the road rules and kept to right of the narrow lanes.

I got out my camera, and began snapping the sights around me, knowing I would never be able to fully capture the lively atmosphere.

 

 

 

I came across a quieter part of the market, lined with clothing stores. Pyjamas!!!!!!!!!! I found a pair that looked light and cool, and utterly kitsch. I tried them on over my shorts, and for $6, they were a steal.

After passing rows and rows of bananas, a couple of chickens with their feet tied, and huge mounds of tobacco, I was expelled into the bright mid-morning sun.

I walked back to the guest house with a spring in my step. I’d stumbled upon the heart of Kampot, in all it’s fragrant, steaming glory.

And I got pyjamas!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

“I should be bored more often”, I thought to myself, as I changed into my new PJs  and collapsed onto my newly made bed, glad to be out of the midday heat.

 

My new PJs. Gorgeous aren’t they?!

Comments

Bored in Kampot — 20 Comments

  1. I have to remember to be bored and wander a little more. One day Shawn and I were out to lunch before running errands and I saw this woman sitting outside on the vine-covered patio with a bowl of chips and a glass of wine reading a book. It looked so peaceful and perfect. I keep thinking back to that and wondering why I don’t reserve an afternoon to myself to do the same.

    Glad you’re losing track of the days. Sounds like heaven.

    • Thank you Carmel, you truly are one amazing woman and I’m so blessed to have ‘met’ you in the blogosphere… yes, with our busy, fast pace lives is really is important to set some time aside for doing nothing. I struggle with it, but think I’m improving… Again, can’t believe you took the time to comment on my little piece, which is a testament to your selflessness as I know you have a lot on your plate at the moment XXX All my love XXX

      • Are you kidding me? These posts are little reminders to me that I’m still alive and need to continue to live. It’s not easy to remember right now. So thank you for writing!

  2. I’m pretty sure your writing is improving with every post you do, and it was damn good to start with!!!
    Seriously, you really captivate with your prose, nice work!
    Awesome photos too, I absolutely love the one called “BANANA” (last one before the PJ’s shot)
    Tell Tykes hello from me please.

    • Thank you so much Bren and Cath!!!!! That’s funny, BANANA is Tyrhone’s favourite too! I took them with the small Canon, and while I wished I could have had the quality of the Nikkon, it is a little less intrusive I suppose. It’s all I had with me anyway, as I wasn’t planning to end up there (actually I didn’t know it existed!). Lots of Love, hope you guys are well, and thanks so much for reading and taking the time to comment, it really means the world to me.

  3. This was a really good post to read. You really excelled yourself with this one.

    Boredom when traveling can always be translated into an opportunity to explore surroundings like you did in your post. It’s wonderful that you got to see the real Kampot as it is to the locals and not to the tourists. I think you’ll grow to love it more as time goes by just being spontaneous and allowing your imagination to take you further on your travels.

    All this reminds me of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs – the Wikipedia article of which can be found here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maslow%27s_hierarchy_of_needs . Basically in this hierarchy the we human beings meet our needs in an order of priority with the most primitive being met first and then the more self actualizing needs being met at the top.

    As far as I can see you’re right at the top of the pyramid meaning that in you’re travels it is evident that you’re self actualizing in that your being spontaneous and creative in what you’re doing. In order words; you’re becoming more and more a free range human being.

    • Thanks Matthew, I enoyed the article, and it’s quite coincidental (or serenditpitous if you like) that I have been thinking about this throughout my travels in Cambodia. When travelling in a country that has been ravaged by genocide, war, political and economic insecurity, it is quite confronting to me that I face none of the challenges these people face to meet my most basic needs on a daily basis. Food is a pleasure for me, rather than simple survival. I don’t have to work right now, but know that when I want to, I will be able to make a living. I wondered whether it was indulgent of me to take the simple fact that I do not struggle for survival for granted, that I am not happy to simply have my basic needs met. I realise it is a blessing to experience the world on a more spiritual basis, í.e being able to focus on personal growth, or ‘self-actualisation’ as you say, rather than basic survival. I am reassured by the thought that I may be of service in some way, though I’m not quite sure what that is yet. :) Thank for your kind comments regarding my writing, it really does encourage me, and I am really grateful that you continue to read!

  4. One thing I’ve learned about Cambodia is that the ‘locals’ are crazy good at pool here, which probably explains the oodles of pool tables (repeat that 5 times fast) found in every city . . . And perhaps, the Justin Bieber hair is just a phase all teenage boys around the world go through. At least my brother, while admitting how “uncool” Bieber is, is determined to avoid scissors. Anyway, I really enjoy your stories. Congrats on the PJs!

  5. Sarah, this your best post yet, in fact I think it is the best post I have read on any blog for a very long time; I was enthralled from beginning to end. Matthew is right, you really did excel yourself with this one. I can literally feel you growing into yourself, and your skills as a writer are enhanced so greatly by your obvious joy. I am so happy for you, and so happy for me that I get to read along. I can’t wait to read your next post. May the boredom continue xxx

    • Thank you so much Hannah, I had such a great deal of trouble trying to upload this one, and at one point was reduced to tears when I lost all my photos I had inserted into the text, and all the text ‘squished’ into the caption of the first photo. Whilst we’re very lucky to have had wi-fi at all, it can be very slow, and quite frustrating to upload photos. I came close to ditching this post, but your wonderful feedback makes it all worthwhile. Thank you so much for reading :)

  6. Well I’m wide awake in LA at 5am and have just read all your posts from beginning to end, Ive looked at every photo twice and studied the map so I can picture where you are.
    I have loved reading about your adventures but then again I’ve been spoilt with having the pleasure of your writing skills from a very young age thanks to your state team newsletter/handouts to keep us all motivated and up to date with our team songs.
    I will be passing this link onto Cassa and jeffyd as I’m sure they’ll become as addicted to it as me.
    Can I Skype you sometime this week??
    Xxxx

    • Ha ha ha!!!! Very funny, you must be serious jet-lagged to be remembering that!!!!! Thanks for reading honey, kind of easier than trying to put it in an email! Love to skype, we are off trekking in the jungle tomorrow for two days so maybe after that? Lots of love XXX