And now I’d arrived safely in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, which I was sure was nowhere near the sea, so this naive enchantment lay latent. There was no glittering coastal speck to lure me, and no beach or jetty for idle walks, or so I thought. But I was taken by surprise, because the city in fact sits upon the banks of the Mekong River, and it wasn’t long before the romance of the Mekong, with it’s soft whispering voice, drew me. Looking out at the broad stretch of sparkling water, despite the bright sunshine, it was unclear, in that vastness, whether I was looking out at an estuary, a lake, or a scattering of ocean islands. In my child-like excitement, my curiosity grew. I needed orientation; I needed to know if there really were islands here. I needed a map. Driven by a compulsion to explore, the paper illustration I’d just purchased unfolded in my hands. As the land was revealed before me I scanned it intensely for blueness and all that lay within its watery grasp. Sure enough, I spied islands, river islands.
Something inside me was awoken. My wife smiled at my animation and my small son (and dedicated fellow adventurer) laughed innocently with delight as he raised a pencil to the map. Thinking of how Robert Louis Stevenson must have adored his stepson – he wrote ‘Treasure Island’ for him, I nodded, and his little hand drew a cross on the island.
“But where are we going?” He asked
“How can you ask that?” I replied, “you’ve just marked it on the map”
“Yes, but what’s it’s name?”
I held up the map and examined it, “there’s text printed on it, but it’s too small and I didn’t bring my glasses”, I handed it back to him, “it’s time to practice your reading my little lad.”
He held the map high and inspected it close-up, as smiles chased each other across his eyes, before turning to me in wonder,
“Diamond Island Dad, it’s called Diamond Island.”
The stage was set. Tomorrow we were going to Diamond Island.
I awoke at dawn to a pink, gold and burning red sky, but my mind was not completely there. A yearning hunger had returned and I was once again longing for the water, for the island. How much more beautiful the sunrise must have been from Diamond Island. But as I watched those two sleepers lying peacefully beside me, I knew I must be patient. I mustn’t wake them yet. I cooked instead. They rose around seven. The table was already laid with breakfast, tea and milk. Little legs were fidgeting excitedly as I urged calm.
“Save that for when we arrive, now you can eat your breakfast quietly please”, I told him firmly ,glancing at his mother, who was still somewhere between dream and wakefulness and was best left undisturbed for another twenty minutes.
Soon we were outside, standing on the road. There was slow stream of traffic, early morning sunshine, and a relaxed atmosphere as people had begun to stir and make their way to breakfast, work or school. A tuk-tuk driver pulled up,
“would you like a lift somewhere Sir?”
I waved my hand, “no thank you”.
I knew that the walk would wake my wife up and provide an outlet for the boundless energy of a child. Besides, Diamond Island wasn’t far, and watching this sleepy city come to life was both endearing and captivating. Children laughing in the street, monks praying and offering prayer, the casual smiles of street vendors and their customers as breakfast was served. Even the pace of the professionals and business people seemed cool and breezy. A bridge appeared before us.
“Is this the bridge to Diamond Island Dad?”
“Why doesn’t the river wash the island away?”
“The river made the island.”
“How can a river make an island?”
“When a river finds a placid place, it slows down and drops sand. Slowly, over thousands of years the grains of sand mount up and an island rises from the water as nature plants trees and people build.”
We’d arrived in Koh Pich. The City Hall stood behind rows of hedge mazes and statues. Mermaids and dolphins. Horses, lions and serpents graced the fountains inviting us to play.
“Dad, we’ve reached the cross, but where’s the treasure?”
“Perhaps it’s in the labyrinth”, I cried as I stepped through a gap in the hedge, “catch me if you can...”
Work on your authentication. Your average tuk-tuk jocky wouldn't even know how to lace up a pair of shoes, let alone address potential clients like some turn of the century Indian coolie.
PS, Whilst we're bullshitting, you should join Strop-meister in his little brain-child endeavor: video-and-entertainment/collaborative-s ... 21864.html
This should tide you over till you find your perfect social club....and Strops thread won't go embarrassingly dormant...two birds / one stone.
Remind me to get "in character" if I'm ever called to read such a thing.
Good luck anyway.
Per ardua, ad stercus
- Sir Duncan
- Posts: 6861
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- Location: Wonder Why Central
Islands name is Koh Dak ( spelling)?
Like the spoilt child she is, she will not be happy till she destroys herself from within and breaks your heart.
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