Getting ready for the second leg

August 1, 2012

Well, the word on the leg is that it’s all good. My genial long-bone trauma specialist in Oxford said that the Cambodian surgeons did a fine job, on the whole. (“What’s that scar there?” he asked, pointing at the 25-stitch monster down the front of my leg. “I’ve never seen that before. No need for that at all.”) The bone is 95 percent healed, the bolts seated nicely in place (“Typical French-trained surgeons, going in through the tendons rather than around,” he snorted) and it all looked, to his practiced eye, well and happy.

I still can’t walk, though. It turns out that I’ve forgotten how to; the muscles and joints have withered and atrophied to such an extent that if I try, I cross the room flailing about as if I were on fire. A few weeks of extensive physiotherapy should sort that out, I’m told. So the long nightmare isn’t quite over yet; it is, however, much closer to ending. And apparently I shouldn’t even limp.

Being back in the UK is odd; comforting to see family and friends and get looked after a bit, after the last tough Blossomless weeks. But I miss Phnom Penh. England is Olympics-obsessed, but the country is just beginning to realise it isn’t going to win very much at all: at least Cambodia doesn’t have unrealistic expectations.

Other things I miss:

When I last flew in to Phnom Penh, it took exactly six minutes to get from my seat on the plane to sitting in a tuk-tuk. And they let Blossom into the baggage hall to help me with my bag.

It took me four months to learn my first Khmer swear word. Usually this takes less than a day. I think this says something about the natural modesty and good-natured attitude of the Cambodian people.

This is a selfish one, but I don’t care. I can take my $200 shirts and have them copied, stitch for stitch, for $7. Plus about the same for the material. I’m starting to have trouble closing my wardrobe doors.

One of our coterie of tuk-tuk drivers is called ’Expensive.’ He is not. Our cleaning lady is called ’Hot.’ She is nice.

Lots of buildings in Phnom Penh have airplane warning lights on their roofs. It’s a sweet idea, but a bit pointless. There’s a building further down my street with one: it has seven floors. If a plane is coming in that low, it’s curtains for everyone, light or no light.

Sometimes, if it’s a breezy night, I’ll wake in the morning to find the hallway carpeted with bougainvillea flowers from the balcony; dozens of purple and carmine petals strewn in little drifts. It’s never a bad way to start the day. (Until I plough through them in the wheelchair, tracking streaks across the marble floor.)

Geckos. How can you fail to love having tiny green dragons skittering about on the ceiling? And eating those insects? I couldn’t have invented a better system myself.


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