It was a Wednesday afternoon in June and I was having lunch with my friend Claire in Phnom Penh.
We were eating on Street 136 near the Riverside, when suddenly torrential downpours, thunder and lightning were right on top of us. For two hours.
We were happy hanging out, watching the rain, delicious coffee in hand. We watched as the water level in the street started to rise. Then the restaurant we were in flooded in the kitchen due to some clogged drain pipes. The staff were sweeping water through the whole restaurant, down the stairs and out the front door.
Cockroaches were coming out of nowhere (I don’t want to know) and were grasping onto anything dry (namely us and the other people inside). We were hilariously sweeping them off of ourselves in good humor (laughing to keep from crying) waiting for the rain to stop. One even crawled up a business man’s pant leg!
When the rain finally settled to sparse, but still big drops, we ventured out into the flood. We couldn’t see the end of the high water in any direction. We seriously could have used a kayak! Lots of Cambodian kids were out in the streets playing and swimming in the water.
When we arrived at an intersection we turned right, which was the wrong decision. We were walking along and I said “At least there aren’t cockroaches out here.” I shit you not, a cockroach was on my hip at that moment. It ran onto my dress, into my jacket, and I was doing a crazy person dance trying to throw it off of me, while still trying to hold onto my bike. I looked up and people lining the road from the safety of their shops and balconies were taking pictures of us with their smart phones. Of course they were.
Once we were closer to Kandal Market there was so much rubbish floating in the water nearby that we didn’t want to keep going. We moved up to dry land on a slanted driveway and a group of Khmer guys standing there started laughing and pointing to my back tire.
I looked back, horrified, to see a condom hanging off of my bike chain. I made a disgusted noise and quickly kicked it off with my sandal. We had been consciously stuffing down the thoughts of what we were walking through on the way there, as unidentifiable light and hard and slimy bits of things rubbed against our legs in the water, but this condom was too real. (I’d like to note that the pictures of me smiling above were pre-cockroach and condom).
We trudged back through the way we’d come. A car drove down the road perpendicular to us, sending a huge wave crashing by, soaking our clothes. It hit a meter high against the glass door of a convenience store behind us, where they were already frantically trying to mop out water.
We finally found dry street a block away and proceeded to scrub our legs with all of the soap and hot water back at Claire’s. Then we went out for foot massages.
Stay tuned for updates on what diseases we now have!
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Have you ever been caught out during the rainy season in Southeast Asia?
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