Phnom Penh – arrival and Day 1
Through visas at the airport in a trice. Efficient, minimal queuing, hurrah. Feet on Cambodian soil, and in, and under (it’s quite dusty, due to maximum construction in the city – demolition, reconstruction, construction).
Picked up at the airport and driven for an hour or so across town – oohing and aahing at the stupendous skills of the scooter-riders, moving (as Justine and Sarah describe) like shoals of fish, together and around each other with a mind for each others’ personal space. Which is a relief, given the absence of road markings or any other handy hints.
The roads are chocker already, and then we run into a march of CNRP (Cambodian National Rescue Party) supporters. They fly the Cambodian flag high, from scooters and lorries, making their point, that the Opposition Party is alive and well.
Blasted from all sides with sights, sounds and smells – want to look in every direction at once, stop blinking and burn it into my brain.
Arrive at the Amanjaya Pancam Hotel, on the side of Tonle Sap, a wide, soup-like, river, one of four that converge in the city. The most well-known is probably the Mekong which, I’m told, changes its direction of flow during each year. Could be freaky, if you didn’t know.
At the hotel, Anton Isselhart is waiting for us. He’s a charismatic German expat who runs concert series here and elsewhere in Asia, encouraging significant collaborations and developing audiences. Discussion centres around the weekend’s concerts – one at the hotel, on Saturday, to celebrate a week-long New Zealand food and wine festival, the other, O Cambodia, at Mete House, on Sunday. Anton describes to us the expectations of Cambodian audiences, that a) concerts aren’t too long and, b) concerts aren’t too long. Some biting of lips is witnessed as negotiations and re-adding of durations takes place. A happy agreement is reached and it’s time for beer.
Anton departs and we settle for dinner in the blissfully air-conditioned dining room, sharing plates of amok, lok lak, curry and pad Thai.
Tomorrow’s going to start with a press conference and then major rehearsals for the Trio and Gillian, with me moving around (hopefully like those fishy shoals) collecting audio for Sound Lounge programmes on RNZ Concert.
Very excited, but not too much to sleep. (like this chap)