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Reccying Western Cambodia

12th December 2011

I was up early again checking hotels and guesthouses to the north, which involved marching up the beach and getting incredibly sweaty. After a quick shower I hop on my moped to explore the local town of Duong Dong. What a revelation! Duong Dong is a pretty fishing port and a typical small Vietnamese town - not particularly old but still very interesting, with one of the best local markets I've ever been to (and I've seen a few!), with dozens of brightly painted fishing boats as a backdrop, ladies in conical hats sell the most amazing array of fish and shellfish. Shimmering metallic tuna sit in wooden trays next to orange and yellow bisected sqashes with their soft pastel pulp and jet black shiny pips. Sea urchins lay next to fresh red snapper and barracuda. Intensely orange and black striped conch snails surround great piles of scallops. Wonderful. I chat to a few stall holders hugging the shade with their stalls and find that Tuna is a mere $2 a kilo. Another revelation is that the market appears ‘fly free’ and even lacks the usual food market dodgy smell!

Another great discovery is the night market. This is a road filled on both sides with BBQs, tables and chairs. There must be 30 or 40 places to sit and chose your fish which is coated in a marinade, put in tinfoil and cooked on the coals. I have to say every bit of seafood I've had here is cooked to perfection and I now know comes fresh from the boat to a clean market every day. I then discover 'Buddies', a western run cafe selling the most gorgeous ice cream and proper coffee….

But back to this afternoon. As I left the local day market I truck 5kms up the coast I come across a wedding awning, where a party of about 30 people are celebrating. I stop for a quick look and to say ‘hi’ before being grabbed, dragged in and plonked at a table. 5 or 6 absolutely drunken guests filled my glass, shouted and laughed while encouraging me to down it in one. Oh no! Here we go… There is no way out other than to oblige (the hardships of travel!) and consume some tasty fare and numerous icy beers that are forced upon me.

When I try to extricate myself, I’m firmly grabbed by two super drunk but hugely friendly chaps who tell me "You no go; you no finished". I make lots of excuses but to little avail, and to secure my escape I am forced up on the stage for a karaoke session to plinky plonky keyboard music. Of course my mind goes blank as I have to think of lyrics to sing, right here right now to the baying crowd. All that comes to mind is the lyrics to a song that a friend wrote in a band I played in some 30 years ago as a teenager, which was highly inappropriate, but luckily no one could understand the lyrics!!!! After a dance with the mother of the bride I am released, massively 'over refreshed' into the community on a moped which I promptly park up as soon as I'm out of sight. Taking a moto back to the guesthouse, I pick up the moped that evening after the night market and much water drinking.

Tomorrow I have a ticket for the ferry and a bus back to visit my great friend Eric in Kampot, Cambodia.

Peter O'Sullivan

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