It’s Gong Chi Fa Chai time again or as I have been saying just to confuse the locals and mix it up a bit ” GANG BANG FENG SHUI” ( this is when a room full of Canterbury Bulldog players is in alignment ! ). So as per last year , it is a special time of year for Khmer people because many of them claim Chinese ancestry. I am not sure how that works and I think, much like Khmer celebrating Christmas, it might be an attempt to get on board yet another holiday. I am not historian though so I go with the flow.
We received an invitation to visit Darren and Manet’s land down on Koh On Long Chen which is an Island about 30 minutes outside Phnom Penh and so around mid day we loaded up the truck with family,esky and dog and convoyed down there with Paul and his family. A short ferry ride over the river and we were on a delightful,quiet island and Dadou Land ( so named because when Darren worked in Africa this was show the Africans pronounced his name ) was only 100mor so from the ferry ramp. When we arrived the food was being served so we sat down and gorged on chicken sandwiches and Khmer curry all washed down with cold beer.
After lunch the girls started playing cards *surprise* so the boys decided to go for a walk and have a look at the Dadou spread. With Nek,Pek,Grace,Srun,Olly and Alex as well as few dogs in tow we headed off into the unknown down a path that wove through Paw Paw, Mango and Banana trees and on and on and on and on it went. When we finally arrived at the back of the block in a sweating heaving mess ( it is bloody hot ) Darren mentions oh-so-casually ” oh its about 15 m wide and……300m long “. Jesus h Christ almighty.
After the “hike” it was decided a drive around the island was in order so a bunch of us piled in my truck and headed off. Karma ran variously in front, at the side and behind us and the mob in the back lapped up the dust big time. We waved to all the locals who were all celebrating Chinese New Year in various ways ( mostly involving beer and cards ! ) and ended up stopping to have a dance with a family who had some speakers set up on the road. After the drive a swim was needed so those game enough made their way down the steep bank and into the river. I initially banned grace from swimming but when I saw that it was only gut-deep for a long way out, I could not deny the little tadpole as she just LOVES the water. So in we went and it was just glorious. The bottom was a fine clean silt and the water was clean and a nice temperature.Karma had run a bout 5km + and was the first in .
4pm rolled around and it was time to get off the island so cars were loaded up and farewells were said and a queue formed for the ferry back across the river which was by now dead still and lit up with an amazing sunset. No sooner were we on the way than the car went dead silent with all the girls going to sleep ! Gong Xi Fa Cai 2011.