Of protesters and Fish

Yesterday the city of Phnom Penh was home to protests centred around the election results. The papers had been warning for a while that this was going to happen and various consulates had been warning foreigners to stay away from the event. Naturally then, I was keen to find an excuse to drive through the city that day and see what was going on.

protest 2 Image found at: http://www.bangkokpost.com/lite/breakingnews/368539/wrapup-rally-protests-cambodia-poll

My opportunity came in the form of an invitation that I accepted without thinking. I don’t know why, but sometimes my face just says yes to things that my brain has not processed yet. Then I get to spend a couple of days wondering if I really should have said yes. Say, if it was just a polite invitation and I was meant to say no. What if the other kids don’t like me and I just embarrass everyone?

The actual conversation went like this:

Snowy (A lady who works at the homeland guesthouse and who makes me yummy foods): Do you want to come fishing with me tomorrow (directed at two guys)?
Guys: no thank you.
Snowy: Do you want to come fishing with me tomorrow (at me)?
Me: yeah, sure. *smiling*
Guys: Oh, in that case we will come too.
Me: *realises I have agreed to something and tries to remember what*
Snowy: Okay, so we will all go fishing on Saturday morning at 8.30.

The ‘guys’ mentioned are a group of three friends who I think of as ‘the vegetarian’, ‘the poker player’ and ‘the writer’. In the end the vegetarian vanished, and the writer (I’m not technically sure what he does but I think writing is involved) overslept. So it was just the poker player and I who went fishing on protest day with Snowy’s family.

We drove through the city for about forty minutes. No protesters were spotted. It suddenly became countryside and we drove around looking for a fishing spot. The family already had a favourite place to fish but there were many such locations offering easy fishing in large manmade ponds and they wanted to try a few other options. It turned out that their favourite spot was the best one and we ended up there.

protest Image from: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-24005685

The place charged for every fish caught, even if they were thrown back, as well as the rod rental and drinks. The lines had two hooks on them and the bait was some sort of round cake for fish. You take a piece and squdge it onto the hook. We all caught at last four fish and at one point I caught two on one cast, Immediately followed by Snowy, who did exactly the same thing. There was much rejoicing.

We ended up with two bags of fish that the family took home. When we got back to the hotel we ate four of the fish for lunch. One was fried, one grilled, one in a spicy clear soup and one was steamed with ginger and spring onion. They were very nice but I did not think to take a picture until we had eaten about half our meal. At that point it was not so photogenic so you will just have to imagine the fishy goodness.

Then I had a nap. Also, we saw no protesters in the end, I was very disappointed. The only sign we saw that it was not a normal day was that five trucks full of police drove past us on the way back. Luckily, the days protests ended peacefully but I have read that there may be some more planned.

Poliece Image from:

After all these impressive protest pictures, here is how my day turned out: