In the best way we do – suddenly we are leaving Kampot barreling down an indescribably dusty road under construction. Huge trucks and rickety tuk tuks veer into view out of the obstruction of terracotta clouds. We thought we were leaving our little happy home in Kampot tomorrow until I realized what day it was while bumping down the road from Kep. Immediately I was disappointed to be leaving a day early even though for the last few weeks I have been solo parenting while the guys kitesurf.
I seems Kampot captured my heat somehow. The dramatic ever changing sky with clouds lit from behind like some sort of biblical prophecy. The sleepy pace we got ourselves into. Rising after 8 and reading in bed until padding down to dip in the pool before ordering breakfast. The amazing food – so many great little spots with passionate cooks. I have spent all my days with Sabine playing dolls, making art, bouncing in the trampoline – well I haven’t bounced on the trampoline – I mean I’m not a masochist – but it’s been fun watching her. There have been a few families stopping in for a couple of nights at a time and a few day trips. Most notably to Climbodia where the boys climbed and caved and Beanie and I lazed with the dolls and the ants. We did venture a little into the cave and it was spectacular – open ceiling with cliffs raggedly climbing fifty feet up. But my heart wasn’t in going any deeper. I hit my cave quota in Vietnam. Sabine and I also day tripped into town for a pedicure and once for lunch. We day tripped to Kep, a seaside town about twenty kilometres away. But there wasn’t anything spectacularly amazing just an overall quiet and gentle place.
I did get a small glimpse into an other side with our tuk tuk driver. On what turned out to be our last day he drove Sabine and I to Kep and gave us a little tour. We went to a butterfly farm and explored the hills above Kep overlooking the Gulf of Thailand. Stunning hillside with million dollar views dotted with crumbling mansions built in the sixties before the war. They were abandoned and occupied by the Khmer Rouge during the war and the land now belongs to the government. Sep, our frequent driver and guide that day, explained that Cambodians are prisoners of their government – it runs all the business and deals in nepotistic ways. It’s impossible to make anything more than a meagre living unless you are connected and it’s impossible to leave if you don’t have money. He said he depends solely on us, meaning tourists from the west. He spoke eloquently and it was difficult to listen and to really understand what he was saying. He said that if you speak up the government takes your land, your job anything – he said he knows of some who have fled and are trying to get the world to understand what is really happening. This whole time we have been going to see shows and exhibits that promote the regrowth of Cambodia and the celebration of art and literature after the war and Sep claims it is all for show for tourists but has very little validity for the everyday Cambodian. That the government is corrupt and normal citizens are hostages.
So here we fly under yet an other drama of rain and sun and cloudy skies, sun umbrellas lining the road back lit clouds, round abouts, people standing three deep in the flat beds of tuk tuks. Layer upon layer of green with firecracker sprays of red and orange flowers. He are hitting it for Phnom Penh and a night in a villa – currently occupied by our new friends who work at the American Embassy and are back in America so have generously offered us a free place to sleep.
We arrive at the Villa and are let in by the 24 hour guard in duty. The place is palatial! With 20 foot ceilings, a sweeping spiral staircase, a ping pong table, every board game ever invented and a huge play room filled with toys, princess dresses and mini high heeled shoes. Heaven for a night. The beds were deliciously comfortable, the air con was crisp and we went out for sushi. So we were feeling very posh. Our only job was to feed the two cats – Ju Ju and Peanuts. They were suitably rambunctious and fun. The only bummer was forgetting our passports in Kampot and needing to organize an emergency delivery for $40 bucks.
Insane drive to Phnom Penh
The morning came quickly for Chris who had to fly to Bangkok to retrieve some bags of kiting equipment and extras we had left there two months ago. I had the morning in the palace with the kids and then a flight to Singapore – solo parent travel day!
We started out well – a million fun things in the house so we stayed in until 11:30 when I ordered a Grab (Asian Uber) to take us to the airport. Things started to unravel – Anderson thought he had left his stuffy, Maggie, in Kampot – luckily we had it and then the Grab texted it was there but it wasn’t – I dragged all the bags to the curb along with Sabine to discover the Grab wasn’t there. The guard offered to talk to the driver so I gave him my phone and headed back inside to get Anderson – I discovered the front door wide open! WE HAD ONE JOB – to keep the cats safe. A huge free palace with just ONE JOB. I’m yelling at Anderson to see if he saw anything – he jumps into action and heads outside, I run to get a tin of cat food and return to find Sabine, shoeless, standing at the door that is once again OPEN! Jesus the other cat. So we did in fact have TWO JOBS! Anderson spots one cat by the side of the driveway and heads out. Thankfully I see Ju Ju inside so the new focus is getting that cat inside and finding Sabine’s shoes. That’s when Anderson says – I don’t think that’s the same cat. I look again and realize with a pit in my stomach that the cat on the driveway is most likely NOT Peanuts – I’m not certain because I don’t really remember Peanuts in the moment and I really want that cat to be Peanuts because at this point the Grab has arrived and the guard is loading the bags in the car. I find Sabine’s shoes – bark at her to get them on and glimpse Peanuts INSIDE attacking JuJu! Heart soars and we climb into the car. I’m sweaty and elated that we didn’t lose a cat and also that we didn’t ADD a cat unnecessarily.
The rest of the travel day is remarkably easy. Filled with all the foods the kids love and many small bribes along the way. We make it to Singapore without incident. No yelling no begging. Generally it’s me begging. Didn’t have to. Feeling cocky I get us into a cab and on the way to our cheap and cheerful hotel/hostel in Little India. It’s cheerful if not cheap – at $100 a night we are killing the budget. It’s a two bunk bed affair with bubblegum pink walls reminiscent of our house when we first bought it. Chris joins within an hour and we are ready for dinner – CURRY!!! But no, Anderson says he isn’t “feeling it” …….. but we are in Little India and everything smells soooooo goood. Instead we hit a weird comic character cafe for some strange fried hotdog dish. Of course we get back late and the kids are unbearable until they both pass out from the exhaustion of driving us to homicidal ideations.
The Temple beside our hostel
We have two full days in Singapore anything more will break the bank. It’s going to be a whirlwind.