P’Chum Ben 2008

Well another PB has come and gone and this is how it panned out for us ;

Sarah was here for the first few days as per my last blog post and once she left, we packed up the car and headed south to Kep. I now have a much greater appreciation for what it requires to get out of town with a child in tow. All those extra accessories that must be packed and things that cannot be forgotten.Nappies,bum wipes,blankies,onesies,bottles,formula etc etc I think about my brother Adam and all the times he has had to pack up the family of 5 and head up to Shrdlu and I just shudder. Anyways, we kept all the clutter to a minimum and got away with relative ease. Absolutely no traffic on the roads and the jeep was running fine having just had a new fan belt fitted and a service. Two and half hours later we were in Kampot having lunch at the Rusty Keyhole. You should have seen the RK girls go for Grace. Sokhum ( Christian’s wife ) is so clucky it is ridiculous and she took charge of Grace and kept her close while Leakhana and I ate. I really hope her and Christian have a kid because she would make such a fantastic mother.

Kep Lodge

After lunch we cruised down to Kep Lodge and checked into Papaya bungalow which Dan very kindly gave us a good deal on. It has two beds but unfortunately the bathtub was out of commission and had a resident ant nest so it was a bit of a crap shoot in the bathroom which became even more of a crap shoot when I got stomach bug after my first dinner in Kep. You get the picture.

Grace’s first swim

Anyhow the pool is fully finished at Kep Lodge and it is beautiful. Just the right depth with a lovely garden around it and a killer view of the ocean. There is even a little kiddy pool attached and I took Grace for her first swim which she loved. No hysterics or crying, just that
lovely ” eeeiuwwwww what’s this then ?” expression. Leakhana made like an Irrawaddy dolphin as usual and the only real shortfall was the KL staff’s poolside service which was non-existent. Ringing the service bell failed to raise a result and after having breakfast one morning, we noticed our plates were still there several hours later. Still, with Dan in Bangkok, I guess it was holiday time for them !

Leakhana,Cheang ( Dan’s wife),Grace and that cheeky little kiss-planting Alex.

Whilst the road issue at Kep Lodge has been sorted out,Dan now has a new battle on his
hands .Some Vietnamese people have cleared a hectare right in front of the pool and restaurant and will build whopping big house which will no doubt impact on the view and knowing how things get done here, there will be a good 6 month of noise and dust so I think it will be a very trying time for Dan and I feel for him. What was also interesting was I think the Vietnamese lady doing the building was actually sitting in the KL restaurant with her two heavily armed bodyguards watching the work go on !! She was yabbering away in Viet on the phone and keeping a close eye on proceedings across the paddock.

We luckily had the opportunity had a talk to Dan and Cheang’s builder who did all their ( and Vanna Bunglows) beautiful stone and thatched roof bungalows and he assures me a smaller one can be built for around $7000 so I am hoping when it comes time for us to build that two of them side by side with some living space and a kitchen in the middle won’t come to much more than $20k !! The pool will cost that much again but hey, $50k for a super sweet weekender with a pool only 2kms from the best coastline in Cambodia isn’t that bad ! I also met a very interesting Dutch guy called Hans who works for an international de-mining company. Hans has worked in Cambodia,Afghanistan and is now based in Lebanon but he has a Khmer wife and will also build in Kep, using the same builder. We chatted for an hour about all things de-mining and building and I tild him I will keep an eye on the builder for him as Hans is off back to Lebanon while his house gets built.

Grace and I at the Star Inn, Kep sea front.

We went out to check the on our land and it was a particularly hard visit as only two months ago, Juntha’s ( our “Man in Kep”) 2 year old daughter walked off and fell into a small pond and drowned. I felt a bit awkward arriving with Grace but I paid my respects to Juntha and his wife and they were very happy to see our baby. The mango trees we planted on the smaller block got ravaged by cows which is a real shame as I was hoping to see some nice little trees growing and all that was left were stumps ! I took a walk over to the watermelon farm and found the bastard ( I call him a bastard because he is a greedy little RFW) who sold us the land had his cows tethered to our block and they were busy eating everything in sight. Luckily, I was packing my 40th birthday present , a leatherman WAVE multi-tool and with a simple flick, out came the blade, the tethers were cut and the cows were sent galloping off into the rice fields. The look on the guys face as I walked back to the car was priceless. I simply smiled and waved.

The offending cow…last seen heading off into the rice paddies

So with no traffic,no crowds and perfect weather, the holiday was fantastic and it was really ni
ce to get out of Phnom Penh on our first family trip. Grace covered off a few firsts; Her first road trip ( she handled the trip with ease ), her first swim in a pool, her first look at the ocean, her first stay at Kep Lodge AND……importantly………her first romantic moment when Dan’s 11 month old son Alex came straight over to Grace and planted a kiss on her cheek !

I must have words with his father.

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