Saturday, 26 February 2011

I-to-I day eight: Treats

Saturday 26th February 2011

MP3 track of the day: Jupter – Holst

Weather: Hot but cloudy

Getting up at 8:45am doesn't sound like much of a lie-in, however I was still getting up two hours later than normal. I bumbled my way around my room for a while, eventually heading down stairs for breakfast and to surf the internet. I spent the entire morning catching up on the world news (there's a lot going on at the moment) before eventually putting my computer away and heading out into town.

I made it across to the eastern side of town where I went into the 'Blue Pumpkin' bakery. It had just been refurbished and you could tell. The whole place was spotless, the floors were wooden, the walls were white (with white tables, chairs and sofas to match) and I felt as though I was back in a more affluent country. I ordered the 'Royal' chocolate cake and a coconut shake. I went upstairs, into the air-conditioned restaurant, and awaited my order with excitement. As I awaited my weeks 'treat' I read my book, 'The Pol Pot Regime'. This book is more like a text book; it's hard going but extremely factual and, when you get into the book, it becomes easier to read. A waiter arrived with a drink and a coconut cake. I explained that the cake wasn't correct, I wanted the 'Royal' and so off went the waiter to exchange cakes. I sipped my drink to discover that it too wasn't what I ordered, it was a banana shake. So far my 'treat' wasn't going well, both bits were wrong. I eventually got my 'Royal' cake (it was good) but I decided to keep the shake. I haven't had a banana shake before and it was quite nice. I got back to my book.

Once my cake was eaten and my drink was drunk I headed out, for more food. I went back to my favorite sandwich shop and had their 'lunch meal' (which was cheaper than my cake and drink in the 'Blue Pumpkin'). Again I sat down, ate, and read my book. Finally I went back to my favorite restaurant and had a 'vanilla shake'. I again read my book.

It was now 4pm; I left the restaurant and headed back my guesthouse. It was strange to pass through the streets that my book referred to. I was reading about how the Khmer Rouge took Phnom Penh. Khmer Rouge armies attacked from the east and west and then carved the city into the eastern, western and northern zones. It was an extremely confusing time for the civilians of Phnom Penh; each zone commander acted like a warlord, deciding for themselves what action would be implemented. Pol Pot himself had ordered the evacuation of Phnom Penh; he used the excuse that American bombers were coming to bomb the city and that the evacuation would only be for a couple of days. The reality was that no American planes were on there way (though, considering the Vietnam war was progressing at the time, you could understand that people believed this statement) and that the evacuation was permanent. However some area commanders didn't follow Pol Pot's orders. Accounts from civilians detailed how they were instructed to leave the city by one group of soldiers only to be turned back to their homes by another group. There were joyful demonstrations because some people thought the war was over, and then on the other side of town civilians were being killed because they refused to leave their homes. As I walked from street to street I tried to imagine the confusion, destruction, fear and joy all rolled into one. Also at that point most of the people didn't know their true fate.

I stopped for shampoo and toothpaste before reaching my guesthouse. I got a drink, sat in the restaurant and continued to read my book. I want to get this book finished before moving onto Vietnam. I only stopped reading for food, before returning to my book. I headed up to bed around 9pm, watching a little TV before falling to sleep. Tomorrow I'll be going with two other members of the voluntary programme to the Killing fields ... the last 'tourist attraction' on my list to see.

Toodle Pip!

P.S. I am suffering with a cold at the moment. All of today my nose has been dripping like a tap however, being within a warm climate, a cold doesn't seem that bad. Hopefully it will be gone by tomorrow.

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