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Expat in Asia – Cambodian Tales – Part 9

It's low season and with a dearth of guests we decided to host a drinks night at River Queen Guesthouse to celebrate Gay Pride Cambodia week. This was mainly because everything being celebrated was all scheduled in Phnom Penh. So we got a few friends of board and organized a night of drinking and dancing which turned out to be a spectacular success. I'm definitely the hostess with the mostest and with less than 3 days to organize pulled off a fabulous night with about 30 people attending and half a dozen gorgeous Khmer boys to add a little bit of glamour.

Written by my partner, Richard Crlik during our stay in Siem Reap, Cambodia

 

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What a time it’s been pets!  A fortnight of triumphs and tragedies.  Triumphs for moi and tragedies for some of my wonderful Khmer friends and families. I’ve been up to my eyeballs organizing events, raising funds and rubbing shoulders with the in crowd.

It’s low season and with a dearth of guests we decided to host a drinks night at River Queen Guesthouse to celebrate Gay Pride Cambodia week.  This was mainly because everything being celebrated was all scheduled in Phnom Penh.  So we got a few friends of board and organized a night of drinking and dancing which turned out to be a spectacular success.  I’m definitely the hostess with the mostest and with less than 3 days to organize pulled off a fabulous night with about 30 people attending and half a dozen gorgeous Khmer boys to add a little bit of glamour.  It was a great night where we met lots of new friends, got to know casual acquaintances better and finished up with a dozen or so of us chatting and laughing into the early hours of the morning.

A few days later we had another unseasonal monsoonal storm which swept through about 4 in the afternoon.  It only lasted for about 40 minutes, starting with strong winds and followed by torrential rain and of course the obligatory power failure.  We rang the electricity company who informed us that the lines near the airport had been knocked down and they would hopefully have power restored within a few hours.

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So we endured 5 hours of no electricity, steaming, humid conditions which were almost unbearable but managed to get a table at Viva and have an enjoyable dinner and numerous drinks before the power eventually returned sometime after 9pm.  In the morning there were pictures splattered all over Facebook showing the enormous road sign which had blown just past the airport turn-off and of course hundreds of whining expats complaining about having no electricity. Not that you can blame them as this year we have had numerous blackouts, the longest lasting 4 days.

Then I got a private message from a friend of mine who works in for an NGO in an impoverished community of villages about 12 km out of Temple Town.  The minor storm which hit the city had intensified into a mini cyclone and the whole community was devastated.  7 villages with over 600 homes either blown away or severely damaged. 23 power lines down and 100’s of families lives literally blown away in a few short hours.

I’m so fabulous darlings that I immediately started a fund-raising campaign.  Published the pictures my friend had sent and within a few hours had dozens of people all wanting to contribute.  By the afternoon with a better idea of the situation and what was needed I contacted Charlie’s Bar, Sister Srey Cafe and Santa Clara Hotel and asked them to be collection points for donations.  River Queen was also a collection point and on top of monetary donations we also asked people to bring the ‘needed items’ to us.  Long story short, with lots of daily pushing on Facebook and ringing contacts back in Australia, within 6 days we had collected almost $2000 and an enormous amount of clothes, mosquito nets and other household items which were collected yesterday.  My first fund raising effort and I have to give myself a pat on the back pets.

So while this was keeping me busy, busy, busy I had an unexpected email form the CEO of Cambodia Hotel Association who wanted to meet with me as she was in Siem Reap for a brief 2 day visit and wanted to ‘touch base’ with me to discuss my proposed initiative for ‘greening up Temple Town’. To get anything done in Cambodia you have to go through all the proper channels, and as a barang (foreigner) all business dealings go through CHA.  I was quite surprised as having attended a couple of their meetings I was aware that they generally only dealt with 5 star hotels and people who are in the elite and wealthy set.

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More surprisingly was that she arrived at River Queen unannounced, looking fabulous in Jimmy Choo black stilettos, and was absolutely lovely and very down to earth.  Just by coincidence we were in the middle of a local wedding function being held across from us in the park.  It had been going for 2 days and although loud, was not unbearable as they generally tend to be.  Her first action was to stand outside measuring the decibel levels on her phone ap (technology has really come a long way)  and announce that it was hovering on the ‘dangerous’ level and she asked if we wanted her to ‘ring it in’ to the Ministry of Tourism and have them come out.  It’s been our first wedding in more than 18 months so we were happy to let them continue as, besides being neighbourly, I figured I had more important issues to discuss.

Anyhoo pets, we spent a very productive hour discussing all my complaints and desires.  Tree planting, installing more rubbish bins, and most importantly, asking her to find out why the ‘park’ opposite us has turned into a night bus station.  She left asking me to email her both a list of the issues and also photos of the buses which she believes are illegally parked so she can take it up with the Ministry of Tourism.  A few days later she let me know that wheels were in motion, but – being Cambodia- results would take time.  I’m more than happy with that possums.  From little things big things grow (as we all know).

So in between running the guesthouse, pushing my fund-raiser, getting things done with the powers that be I am also in the middle of organizing another Clean up Temple Town event.  This time pet’s it’s so big that we are running it over two mornings this coming Saturday and Sunday.  My days are filled with posting information, adding new group members and visiting new businesses to fill them in on the details.  I have a special bonus as a barang friend of mine is joining myself and Bros with 3 lovely young boys on the day.  Can’t wait to get dirty pets!

Believe it or not it’s been almost 4 hours since the last paragraph – the whole time dealing with Clean up organisation, plus a surprise guest (friend) whose hotel has had the electric cut off because the Khmer owners didn’t pay the bill.  There’s always something in Temple Town pets to keep you on your toes.

Oh my stars pets!  Now it’s Saturday and I started writing this on Thursday!  I’m absolutely run off my feet. Yesterday was a write off.  After entertaining our ’emergency’ guests over breakfast and going for our usual morning beverages I had two motivational speeches to give to new participants in Clean up Temple Town, then spent the afternoon with guests, before taking shifts with my partner in the evening.  In between I got official approval for my ‘Green Up Temple Town’ request via the Cambodia Hotel’s Association, who got the approval from the Ministry of Tourism.  So today we already have groups planting trees!

So now time has flown and I know I’ll never get to fill you in on all that’s been happening.  Save something for later pets.  God knows you can’t predict what’s going to happen here.  Anyhoo today is my partner’s an my 17th anniversary!

OMG….where has time gone?  I can still remember the night we met.  There was moi, platform disco shoes, shiny blue shorts (and very little else on) dancing up a storm on the Imperial dance floor.  From the corner of my eye I was watching this tall, handsome and exotic man stalking me.  Too scared to make contact.  Anyhoo I danced and watched the drag show and had at least two boys wanting to take me home.  But somewhere, in the back of my mind, was the image of this strange man……so I stayed, danced some more, looking fabulous and eventually he approached me.   17 years later and we are still together.

It’s been 17 amazing years.  In my wildest dreams I could never have imagined that I would meet someone who has given me everything.  Taken me from places I never should have been in and taken me to place I could only ever have dreamt about!  What an amazing man.  Putting up with moi (and you know pet’s that can’t be easy) and turning my life around.  So I can  truly say thank you and I love you Aleks.

So busy pets that I’ve left out 3 fabby events including the one where I not only have a great night but get a very happy ending (don’t we all love a happy ending possums?!) Not to mention my clean up day where I got down and dirty with two very cute khmer boys.  But that’s me always hanging round with the trash darlings……

Until next time, stay fabulous and be glamorous.  And if you’re lucky like me your Aleks will eventually come along. Bon Anniversaire pets!

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