Harry – a Texan who sounds as though he traded in his twang for an Australian drawl – celebrated his birthday on 14 May. Being the owner of the “Sundance Inn and Saloon” he generously shouted his friends, regulars, strays and assorted others an evening of food, drinks and music on the house.
Sauntering in at about 20:00, the place was already rocking, with a live band tuning up. I minced up to the bar and asked for a gin and tonic – the tropical tipple of choice to ward off the dreaded malaria. The young Cambodian bartender pulled out a bottle of Bombay Sapphire and started to free-pour into a tumbler. I watched open-mouthed as the gin kept running. Then she dropped in a slice of lime, added a few ice-cubes and topped it up with a touch of tonic. The drink was massive, enough to starve off the mossies for the rest of the wet season. The general measure of spirits in the Kingdom of Wonder – as Cambodia is known – is a carefully calculated thimble-full. This saloon-pouring approach was enough to make me think Butch Cassidy might stroll in at any minute. But nobody would have noticed as the place was already awash with interesting types.
So, with drink in hand, I mixed-and-mingled. A few people knew each other, most didn’t. But, frankly, it didn’t matter anyway as everyone was just into having a good time. During the course of the evening I met – among various others – a yoga teacher from Morocco, a singer/tourist from New Zealand and a Swiss organizer from one of the multitude of NGOs that line Street 240.
And the food just kept coming: succulent chicken pieces, sliced eggplant, veggie wraps, marinated meat. The kitchen worked overtime; as quickly as it was consumed, it was replaced.
After a spectacular evening of charming company, fab food and bourgeois booze I made my slightly-inebriated way home. Once there I slid into bed and slept well. Really, I deserved a hangover the next morning. But when that didn’t happen it added to my evaluation that it had been a “perfect” event. Or, as Skip noted, “It was quite the tribal-blow-out with some interesting moments.”