On Friday I was told in typical last-minute fashion that we had been invited to a Party the following day to be held at the family house of some friends. As I had nothing planned I readily agreed to go and come Saturday lunchtime there was a flurry of activity, cars being packed,beer and ice being bought and away we went. Danay, Srey Nek and Srey Pek rode in the back of my truck and everyone else piled into Tra’s car and we were soon arriving at a lovely little village just outside of Phnom Penh near the go karting track and military training base.
We were among the first to arrive and a table was set up for us under the shade of a lovely big tree. Family memebers were busily preparing a feast for the ensuing masses and there were several other tables of guests already sitting down. As Grace and Vichea ran around with glee in the open spaces, I couldn’t help but notice how perfect this little village seemed. All the houses were nice and orderly, the roads were good, the haystacks were all neat, the chickens and cows all seemed happy and well fed and even the dogs were friendly ! I took a walk to the end of the road and gazed out over the endless rice paddies and coconut trees and as the breeze blew it felt great to be out of the city.
We settled down at our table and then I notice something else. Everyone around us was playing cards ! Ripper Rita. Faster than you could say ” let’s play poker !” Leakhana, Tra and I were…er…..playing poker ! Luckily we had some stacks of Riel and the setting was just perfect for it. Phalla and Srey Neung even started to play and a little later we were joined by Sean. We stopped for lunch but then got stuck straight back into it and as more people arrived, more table were set up and more card games started. The backyard started to look like a casino and the games were lively and animated.
As the adults played cards, the kids chased chickens and puppies and had a grand time without any boundaries. With plenty of people fussing over and watching them mums and dads were able to have a good rest and the host family were delightful. My favourite was the Grandfather who just had this wonderfully welcoming aura about him. He must have been well over 70 but was fit and spritely. When we arrived he was digging a trench with a pick and a little later he changed into a very smart white cotton shirt. When he blazed up a handmade Khmer cigarette, the photo opportunity was too good to waste and I tripped over myself to get the camera for these shots;
Some shots of the rest of the day ;
We had a great time and headed back into Phnom Penh around 6pm. We would have loved to have stayed as that night there was sure to be some dancing and good fun but I hate driving in the dark here and Leakhana was absolutely exhausted as she was battling a small flu. Big thanks to Tee’s family for making us feel so welcome and we might just visit them again some time.