I hope this finds you happy, healthy, wealthy and wise! I am writing to you from sunny Phnom Penh, Cambodia with a light spirit and even lighter lower gastrointestinal tract. I ate something evil, it set up shop in my guts and then my body went medieval on it and tried to expel it with the human body's equivalent of tear gas; which is to say violently painful diarrhea and barfing followed by an inhumanely high fever! Anyway...that's over, all is well again. Why did I start with that?? Sorry!
Since I last laid eyes on you, devoted readers, my first husband and I have been having a pretty wild adventure! We've covered some new ground in SE Asia, mainly Cambodia and several new islands in Southern Thailand. We also had a lovely evening sleeping on a dusty floor with dozens of other weary travelers in the Kuala Lumphur, Malaysia airport. The discount airline wing of that particular airport is nothing short of a shit hole. Don't under any circumstances think killing six hours in the middle of the night before your early morning flight is a good idea. Thank little baby Jesus we bought some over-the-counter Valium in Cambodia or we may have turned on each other. Which, as we all know, is the beginning of the end....
We started our journey in Phnom Penh in late January because my first brother-in-law, Adam has a factory here. He owns Montana Fly Company and he has many of the flies tied here. The factory and their house is a four story building with two floors of adorable and sweet Cambodians diligently tying all manners of "wooly buggers" or salmon flies or crazy, wild colored I-don't-know-whats. Its bizarre seeing elk hides and rooster hackles from Montana being transformed into beautiful little flys then sent back into the world. They smile and giggle every time we go up or down the stairs and say, "Hellloooooh!" It's kind of like a commune here. Every day 200 workers file in and tie flies. Three Thai managers live here plus Adam and his fiancé and a kid from Dillon, Montana. Phnom Penh is pretty cool, but it is as hot as Satan's scrotum at the moment.
Last time we were here, we happened upon a little cafe that sold "happy shakes." We ordered lunch, some margaritas and one happy shake (just to see what would happen! We're honeymoonin'!). Sure enough the Tuk Tuk ride home was surreal and when we got home we laughed our brains off about everything for a good four hours. Neither my first husband (let's call him Chris from now on), nor I are big pot smokers. But this was a hoot. I suggest all of you buy some weed blend it up into a mixed fruit smoothie and see the sparks fly! We came up with some comedy gold, you just may too! Not to expose the Red's Bar Wednesday Afternoon Grass Club (index finger on nose) you know who you are, (Rhymes with Spike Shelean, No Noriarty, Nina Scampbell and Boobarb) I think you should come as a group to Cambodia and try out a shake. What a fun trip that would be! (Literally and figuratively!!!) You can also order "happy pizza" with the "happy" on top OR "happy" on the side, in which case they staple a bag of weed to the inside lid of the pizza box. And they deliver EVERYTHING. We ordered a bottle of tequila from a Mexican restaurant the other night. We are pretty sure the delivery driver took a swig on his way over because it was opened and few shots shy. What are you gonna do? It was ten bucks....
We hit the beaches in southern Cambodia and they are marvelous. Little cabanas for $20 a night on the beach with amazing food for super cheap ($5 tops for dinners) and pristine waters. If you can get here and spend a little time, the savings are in the accommodation and food- so cheap!
But it hasn't be all uppers, downers, booze, wine, women and song. We've gone on an elephant trek--- and I would be remiss if I didn't mention the size of an elephant's penis. Oh. My. God...It comes out when they have to pee and we happen to be behind one who was doing just that and.... Let's just say I know where the term "swinging dick" comes from. But the elephants were so awesome. Gentle giants. I felt bad for them carting people around all day.
We hiked around the ancient temple Angkor Wat. Amazing. Sadly it was over Chinese New Year so there were a gazillion Chinese tourists. AN old Chinese woman elbowed Chris in the ribs to get past him. We both almost hyperventilated. It was like Hitchcock's "The Birds!" We had to get outta there!
Cambodia is a little raw and tough to watch sometimes. They have a tragic not so distant past being crushed under Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge. There are many people begging, dragging themselves on the sidewalk with one or no legs. Lots of dirty little kids without shoes begging or carting around a box of books or crap to sell. And these kids are adorable and I just want to take them home, give them a bath and feed and hug them. One little guy sold me some flowers then asked if he could have the scrap of meat left on my plate. He was maaaaybe five years old. Kills me. But then there was a "little person" (as in dwarf...what are we calling them these days??) anyway, she was in a wheelchair selling crap so I bought some postcards because I felt sad for her and the next day we drove by her and she was chatting away on her iphone5 soooooo..... I dunno. But the kids and the land mine victims really bum me out.
Everywhere in Asia people ride scooters or motorbikes and they manage to carry the craziest amount of stuff and people. It's the family car and it is not uncommon at all to see Mom, two kids, and Dad holding a baby like the Heisman trophy driving with one hand all the while balls deep in insane traffic. We saw three ladies on a scooter holding a basket with three live chickens, then a few minutes later another scooter with two people and two clear lawn and leaf size plastic bags full of whole raw chickens and then on a different scooter, two dudes transporting an SUV size windshield. It's crazy. But they know how to get shit done. How many times do you hear in Montana, "can I borrow your truck, I have to move something..." Get a buddy and use your mountain bike, you lazy Hippie! Get creative!
Anywaaaaay, we saw some pretty hilarious stuff in the Thai islands. Did most of the journey on a gorgeous and very mellow island called Koh Lanta and acted like adults--having a few beers, playing cards, bed by ten...Then we popped over to Koh Phi Phi (pronounced pee pee) and it was a holy shit show of 20 something backpackers from all over the world partying their faces off! Some of the best people watching of my life. Everyone was half-dressed, glossy-eyed and ready to make bad decisions. Many of these decisions landed them at one of the MANY clinics in the windy little streets. Seemed like every other person had a part of their body wrapped in gauze. There were fire shows every night, which they fully encouraged the drunk foreigners to participate in, completely waaaaaaaaasted. (I'm guessing the gauze was for burns) We came out relatively unscathed. I double dutched with ropes that were on fire and burned my hair. Chris did some kind of deep squat dance and ripped his pants from waistband to hem, and wasn't wearing underwear. Two days of that and we were outta there.
So this is dragging on a bit. Life is back to normal kind of. Chris has been working a lot from his computer and Alan is holding down the fort in China. I have been helping him with his work and by helping I mean making him lunch, telling him he's doing a "really good job!" and just doing all that generally positive reinforcing first-wife stuff. We have a place to stay in Northern Thailand, but we only have tourist visas for one month so we have to fly somewhere else for a few days which is why we popped into Kuala Lumphur and why we are now back in Cambodia. It's back to Thailand Monday until the end of April and then we have to go to China for real. Ugh. The honeymoon is almost over.....
Miss you guys and gals. We had drinks the other night at bar called Red, because I insisted. It wasn't the same. :-(
Linda Lindsay Henderson Beaver Trina Jingle Heimer Schmidt