What kind of book did your husband give you?
for almost twenty years -before moving here i collected anything and everything about south east asia and cambo in particular.
Getting the library into cambo was hell! after about six month of waiting and paying bribes, we finally got to the customs depot: just books for charity we said, the customs officer rummaged in one of the boxes missing a pornographic ashtray given to me by a dear friend only by inches. ( our female cleaning staff has been trying to hide the thing ever since)
in the end we got the books out, they reside now in my guesthouse for the use of our guests, sadly some were stolen, still my staff and me do think we should keep them available, books are for using not for show.
our guesthouse is on a small hill overlooking the ocean, the street looks like something out of a western, horses replaced by motorbikes. Motors, the donkeys of seasia. Most places are guesthouses cafes restaurants, etc, half of the businesses owned by barangs ( generic word for forreigner, derived from the thai farang- derived from the word french)the other half by khmers. we get along great, the odd bad egg won't last long in an environment where you need each others help.(any night you can see guesthouse and bar owners running along the street with bottles of booze or heaving barrels of beer to neighbours who run short).Little carts sell fruit or bapaos and other delicacies, like a row of frogs on a stick for example. there is one lady, well rounded, big big smile on her face and on her head a tray with sticky rice pakkets rolled in bananaleaf. Every time i try to photograph her, she - unfortunately poses, and the smile vanishes. when i asked her why she stopped smiling all of a sudden, she replied ' but taking pictures is serious business after all? isn' t it'
the town is called sihanoukville and is the only seaport in cambodia, in the old days it was called and sometimes still is- kompong soam.( it is the place where the treaty that made cambodia a french protectorate (not colony, it never was, as the french like to pretend)- was signed.
Snookyville or loonyville as the guys from pp call it is pretty ugly, still it grows on you.
the beaches are nice,the main street has an unfinished look, not undeserved: they were still building it into a resort town when the war started.
one hotel the IndependaNCE (NO SPELLING MISTAKE) WAS FINISHED, VERY FIFTIES,VERY RETRO. DURING THE KR DAYS IT WAS USED AS A PRISON, THEN A GANG OF PIRATES made it their home, about ten years ago the place was cleared out.
before they started restoring it we and our guests happily roamed the premises,the shining comes to mind, enormous chandeliers and loose glasspannels rattlig in the breeze, sometimes we could have sworn somebody was there, nobody was ever seen.
we enjoyed visiting the state room where catherine de neuve and jaqueline Kennedy once stayed, always wondering how they would have fit into the minuscule bathtubs, well maybe they took showers..
another fun trip in the neighbourhood is taking the bikes 25km over dirt tracks to a fishing village called stung hau, a wild ride eighter dusty or muddy, every one of us fell off at least once after one of our stung hau sunday seafood lunches, eaten right by the fishing poort in a hut seated on plastic chairs, the floor dirt, the hygiene more than questionable strange as it may sound, nobody ever got sick.
until a year ago there were a few forgotten russian submarines rusting a way in a dockyard. it was great fun to take along a big breasted blonde in a tank top , leave her with the guards to be oggled while we happily raided the boats.( radiohelmets, russian gun manuals from the seventies a seismogrhaph, some pravdeas) not a nice thing to do? right. was it not that we knew - and they did it- last year they thrashed the boats,for junk metal,otherwise these things would be lost...
with or without submarines, we love this little place forgotten by time, wide streets comprised of
sand/ mud and sadly, thrash. the houses are the khmer style wodden stilted ones, most with palmthatch,
with big front yards full of coconut palms, flowers and pink bougainvilles.
sorry rc, hope i did not bore you too much with snookyville, have to go to the guesthouse and work..
don't judge book by the movie