After the harrowing day at the killing fields, the day did a much needed u-turn, and turned out to be an authentic day with a group of Cambodians, who are a fantastically friendly bunch.
It was a national holiday in Cambodia, and Mr.T asked us if we wanted to go to his home village for a party, and he’d bring us back later on, so we jumped at the chance! You are always weary when in these kind of situations, but gut instinct goes a long way in keeping you safe. This guy knew everyone in Phnom Penh, he was talking to everyone and seemed a pretty popular guy in the town. On the way to his village, he stopped at a friend’s house where we got to say hello to her and her baby, and it was pretty evident that this was just one friendly normal guy, and not a mad tuk tuk driving kidnapper! Well, maybe he was mad but certainly not in a horrible way!
The cute little baby
On arrival at his village, about one hour away on his tuk tuk from Phnom Penh, there was a party being set up at the temple, a big stage with a band and food stalls were being put up. It was obviously early for the party so we went to a house over the road, which I believe may have been his aunt’s, not quite sure due to the language barrier, but she welcomed us in and gave us a delicious curry to eat. We sat outside on a little table, and some of Mr.T’s friends joined us, one who spoke very good English, and Mr.T brought in a crate of beer, and we all had a great time tucking into this and getting a little tipsy! By 8pm we could hear the party was starting over the road, so decided to head over to see what was happening!
A group of children driving Mr.T’s tuk tuk around the temple grounds!
A mausoleum inside the grounds
Mr.T and me!
Mr.T and his friends
The grounds of the temple were packed with people, families, friends, lots of youngsters on scooters, and so we watched the band a little while before we thought we ought to get up on the empty dance floor and get the dancing going! Within half an hour the dance floor was packed, the band were playing a mix of funky and traditional songs, and everyone seemed to be doing a particular dance around the dance floor, which I had great fun trying to learn from the ladies, there were particular steps and hand movements to follow. Don’t think I quite got it though!!
Laura and Mr.T
Food at the party
Kids enjoying the party
The night was getting on and Mr.T started disappearing, and each time we saw him he seemed even more drunk than before. Although we were having a great time, we realised that at some point Mr.T would need to take us back! So at about 10pm we decided we needed to find him before he got any more drunk than he already was as we had to get back to Phnom Penh. We eventually found him and he was a little worse for wear, we were an hour away, but unless we wanted to stay somewhere under the stars (or a palm tree, fighting the mozzies for space!) we had no choice…!
He wanted us to stay to the end of the party, but this lessened our chances of getting home because Mr.T looked like he was ready to be the one who flopped under that palm tree! So, we managed to convince him we needed to go back and he had to take us! So, we said our goodbyes to our new found friends, and hopped in his tuk tuk. The first ten minutes were the hairiest, Mr.T was ready to go to sleep, so much so that as we were watching him and his driving, his head flopped to one side like he was going to go to sleep! This is where we thought oh god we are going to die! Well we managed to keep him awake as he drove anyway, and not far up the road from the party we left, was another one, this time in front of a house and packed full of people dancing. Mr.T stopped the tuk tuk and several of the youngsters ran over, fascinated by the westerners who had stopped at their party, and they begged us to go in for a dance….doesn’t take much persuading for me! In we went for a couple of numbers and it was great fun. Then we knew we had to get back on with the mission of getting Mr.T to get us home.
The second party
Back in the tuk tuk, watching him like a hawk, I at one point thought it would probably be safer if I drove the tuk tuk, but my sensible side thought about the implications of this should we have an accident or get caught. Although not really drunk, I had definitely had a few beers, and the thought of a Cambodian jail made me rethink this idea instantly. So, our only option was the drunken tuk tuk driver!
Mr.T, being very tired, and obviously drunk, kept stopping and pulling in places on the way home, once up a little side street, and once at the night market, each time saying “we sleep here?”, each time our response in stereo being “Nooo, Phnom Penh!”
Eventually, after one hour and forty five minutes, we were outside our hostel! We paid Mr.T his daily rate, plus a bit more for the hospitality him and his friends had showed us, never mind the totally unsafe ride home but we’ll forget that bit as he was a nice funny guy.
The next morning we left for breakfast, and there he was, still in yesterday’s t-shirt. “Morning!” We said. We knew he hadn’t gone home, he had slept the beer off at the night market in his tuk tuk!
A fun day (except for maybe the tuk tuk ride home!) and a great experience hanging out with the locals. This was a totally authentic experience, and it’s these kind of things that bring me the most satisfaction from my travels. There really are many fantastic people in this world.