It was Christmas Eve in Otres Village and it was hot. Crazy hot. Once we managed to brave the sunlight and escape the air con in our rooms at Vacation Bungalow we headed straight for the beach. Just a 5 minute walk yet in the baking heat it felt like crossing the Valley of Death. Especially with a hangover deriving from a shitload of Angkor Beers the night before. Fortunately once we reached the beach there before stood miles of pristine, perfect hungover hot day remedy. A massive stretch of sand with barely any people on it. Trees scattered about to provide shade where needed, yet not too many to crowd the beach. But most importantly the sea was absolutely sublime. It stretched out in all directions, but it wasn’t just that. It was the fact that it was the absolute perfect temperature and the perfect depth that made it so fantastic. Deep enough to fully submerge yourself and have a good swim, yet shallow enough to play frisbee and mess about while keeping cool. Cold enough to completely refresh you and provide an utter respite from the baking heat, yet warm enough that you could lie in there for hours, spending a whole day chatting and shuffling around with your hands, without ever feeling the need to evacuate with chills. In fact this is exactly what Rob had to do. For the evening before – the first he had spent with his friends after many days of planning – he decided to jump over a gate in the middle of the night and completely destroyed his foot. What was worse was that there was a man sleeping next to the gate who’s specific job it was to open it for people. For the next two weeks Rob would be hopping from place to place, hailing lifts with strangers where he could, and bobbing in the ocean to take the pressure off at any given opportunity.
Obviously we spent the whole day at the beach, drinking beers from the local shop and slacklining between palm trees. Though I wouldn’t recommend slacklining between palm trees. Their shallow roots clearly aren’t designed for it, as we discovered to our detriment…..
That night we went to Otres Village Market. Kind of a big all round bar/food/events kind of place. I guess they also have markets there sometimes but I never got round to finding this out. Every Saturday they have live music on, and as luck would have it (or more likely careful planning) our friends were going to be playing a gig.
The whole load of us, around 18 by now, headed over and found a spot in front of the band stand. It was a good place Otres Village Market. Decent prices on beer and cocktails, super tasty local food, also inexpensive. And the atmosphere was great. We all chilled throughout the evening and got suitably mashed, topping up the beers consumed on the beach earlier.
Sadly though it was eventually time to leave. And to navigate our way back to the bungalows. As I’m sure you can imagine this was a difficult task. Twenty friends (at this point more had turned up…) on pretty much their first night ever in Cambodia trying to navigate their way back down random dust roads in the middle of the night. Everyone scattered in different directions.
Rob was forced to hail a tuk tuk due to his dodgy foot so he got home safely with Kim and Johanna, though on the journey back they received a nasty surprise in the form of a snake launched at their feet. A lot of debate would happen regarding this snake after the event, but still one cannot ascertain who threw the snake, and whether it was alive or dead.
Jake decided it was a fantastic idea to carry Merryn back to the bungalows. I was trying to navigate our route through the darkness, in which every road looked the same, while peeking out of the corner of my eye to check they were not going to do unto themselves some serious damage. After a couple of falls I took a stand.
‘Jake!’ I said, full of authority. ‘You must no longer carry Merryn or you will do yourselves some harm.’ Jake looked at me with a mischievous glint in his eye. He picked Merryn in a front carry kind of like you’d carry a sack of potatoes, and started running as fast as he could. It was about twenty feet before his legs went wobbly. Wibbling around like jelly as his centre of balance grew further and further forward. Eventually doing that helpless movement where you frantically try to regain balance by running faster and faster, but this just adds to the momentum that increases the toppling effect.
KAMTHUMP. They landed heavily onto the tarmac, Merryn first, Jake almost going head over heels, his arms outstretched. They lay on the floor in a heap. I laughed.
I’m not sure how we made it back after that, but the important thing is that we did. The following morning Merryn came up to me with a genuine look of disbelief.
“How on Earth did I get this horrible bruise?” She enquired.
My mind was perplexed.