John and Aejke got “married” (well…blessed in Buddha’s eyes at least) last weekend and what a fine affair it was. Funnily enough, a few days earlier I had watched a DVD called “Rachel Getting Married” and the wedding that was the centrepiece of the movie was a rambling, colourful affair and I had high hopes that John’s would be similar. I was unsure whether we would attend due to my infected leg but as it had come good to about an 80% rating and as I really did not want to miss this occasion, we shipped mum in to look after Grace and awoke early Saturday to board a 7a.m private mini-bus. With Derek, Wendy, Dan, Davuth, Angela, Paul, two of their friends and an esky full of beer, it promised to be quite a road trip. Whilst Leakhana and I had gone to bed early the night before, everyone else had been out to all hours and so it was not long before the first beer was cracked. Actually….it was 8a.m….and, no, mother, it was not me!We were soon motoring down the death highway to Sihanoukeville and with the beer flowing and constant calls of “OH MY GOD WE ARE GOING TO DIE!!” as all manner of vehicles and livestock meandered across the road, it was a rather amusing trip. With smokers and weak bladdered amongst us, some 400 roadside stops were made and we finally motored into Sihanoukeville around 1pm. After dumping all our stuff off at the SeaBreeze Hotel we headed for Hawaii Beach, a swim and a lazy seafood lunch. It was great to be in the ocean again and I figured it had been about a year or so since we had tasted salty water. After lunch it was back to the hotel for a 1.5 hour power nap and then time to hit the party.
Here comes the bride………
Beach Back Flip
The ceremony and party were held at Treasure Island restaurant which was on a very small and lovely beach in a small cove. Start time was 5pm and we got to have a few beers and say hi to all the Phnom Penh expats and SHV locals prior to the bride arriving by boat right on Sunset. Some 150 people stood on the beach waving and hooting as the bridal party landed and John had to wade out to carry his lovely bride ashore which was very romantic. As the sunset, some of John’s orphans did some Apsara dancing and then a huge group of them sung a lovely little song. It was then time for some blessings from the monks and before you could say “Hey Johnny….you are married”…..he was! They are doing a more formal / legal wedding in Holland in June but as far as we were all concerned, he was a goner.
John and his best men.
Lawsey, Tess and Marie
It was then up onto the sanded area behind the beach for dinner at the set tables and much dancing as Dan and Paul spun their best tunes. The Khmer kids were loving it and everyone eventually got into the groove big time. Conga lines went around and around, couples danced cheek to cheek and the fairy lights twinkled away creating a great ambiance. The wine flowed and the conversation rambled on and come midnight it was well and truly time for everyone to go home. The steps back up the car park proved a real challenge in our newly inebriated state and we were soon all safely in the bus and on the way back to the hotel.
The next day bought sunshine and mild hangovers and whilst the rest of our group went and swam at Otres Beach, Leakhana and I opted for maximum sleep time. After a hearty 8a.m breakfast I arrived back in the room to find my poor wife driving the white porcelain bus and after helping her back to bed, she was out for the next 4 hours. Once the pothers arrived back at the hotel we loaded up the bus and hit the town centre for supplies (more beer and ice, water, Orios,chips,gelato…the usual hangover food ) and it was then Phnom Penh bound .
A bloody fantastic wedding and best wishes to the newly-weds for a long and happy life together.