Kampot, South Cambodia, probably last entry from here.
We are approaching the end of our travels and - in contrast to previous journeys - we have stayed here in Kampot already one week and are taking it leisurely. WE saw one more amazing temple (7th Century) in a cave, under overhanging stalactites but not touched by them!
We also have seen the place where the pepper grows (as we say in Germany) but it was much nicer as the place we wish people to when we don't like them. We saw the abandoned and now scatted in old French resort - including the king's two empty villas - a goats’ town still with some good seafood restaurants along the mangrove beach.
Our pace has become so slow that I think Klaus wants to get me home healthy this time and I am not against it.
It has also a certain advantage, in archaeological terms, to not only to race from attraction to the next to record building marvels but also to have time to discover the Occupation - the time between Construction and Destruction, where only little events fill the days.
The nights when one is woken up by the dogs howling in concert, when between 3 and 5am the cocks start to ensure their territory an when around 6am the sun appears.
Here in Kampot people now care about preparations for the New Chinese Year starting 7th Feb. The Khmers after all their sufferings are enjoying all festivities, their own New Year will take part sometime in April.
When the New Year arrives it has to be greeted positively. The entire house has to be cleaned and all plants of the garden are sprayed and washed. Our domina really behaves like in Roman times the matron of the household would have done: she chases her maids and servants-cum-waiters around to the furthest corners of the property to clear out even the darkest corner: So I discovered that the spoil-heap in front of our side windows had been beautifully sorted (Georgia, this reminded me of your marvellous Swiss book "Kunst aufräeumen" : all five cock’s cages are now mounted into a tower. Beside it stand three replaced ‘loos, a pile of old wood for future fire use including a three-legged chair, a movable step pedestal ... and so on. The effort, however, stops before the 2nd window, where the old higgledy-piggledy continues.
Very important for this activity, I learned, are the Ancestors. They must be impressed to mediate and must be convinced that the still living do something to earn a good place in heaven (and further on in life as well!) New Year can bring new and better things to the families and watching are the house gods. House gods are pacified in our house in two ways, in little shrines, lovingly cared for outside on the premises with fresh fruits, coconuts, and incent sticks. These are for the Khmer ancestors. Inside the house is the Chinese altar, which contains figures of ?Buddhist gods, also fruits, water (or gin?) and even several dollars! You shall see the pictures if I can manage. The Blissful Guesthouse next door, where we have breakfast, has even acquired 8 new low tables, 32 comfy-chairs and a row of new plants - but where are the guests? May be there will be a special impressive party for the new furniture.
To mark the Sunday yesterday, Klaus hired two bicycles for the day for $3.- together and we had a great time to cycle along the river with mountain scenery on the way. We had best French coffee at a view spot and had a good time to chill out and observe two girls doing their washing. Astounding how much difference can lie in such a simple action: While one of them had soon very efficiently washed all the goods from bed sheets to t-shirt and jeans and blouses, she had brought washing powder and a brush, the other one borrowed from her and scrubbed only a few things taking double the time. Then came the cleaning of the girls themselves: the 1st one combed her hair, went into the river in her cloths, had a little shower under the little waterfall, washed her hair and body in her cloths and when coming out, washed the washing bag, cleaned even the plastic bag, folded everything away nicely and went to change her wet dress behind the rocks into a dry set. In a fine white blouse she reappeared as a new happy girl, washed the cloths she had been wearing before, laid all out on the rocks to dry and relaxed. Meanwhile the other girl still tittered around, didn't wash her hair properly and lost he plastic bag in the currents - one more to add to the plastic spread.
Anyway, Thank you all very much for following our journey. On Thursday we shall take the bus back to Phnom Pengh, on Friday we start the way back home - and following the light we shall be arriving the same day back in London.
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All the very best
from Klaus and Friederike