I had not even posted pictures of the scarves here in Mysterious Orientations before queries started trickling in: one from the UK, two from Canada, one from Tennessee, another from Japan. All of this transpired after I left Siem Reap, so as of Valentine’s Day, I had not had a chance to tell Kimleng about it.
As it happened, however, I would see Kimleng one last time this trip, as the only bus I was able to find north from Sihanoukville was bound for Siem Reap. She and two of her brothers met me at the bus station, where an undoubtedly bedraggled figure awaited them. She had secured a hotel room for me at the nearby Mandalay Inn, not that I got a lot of use out of it; she and I sat up on the front porch of her shop, chatting until the wee small hours of the morning. Occasionally a customer would drop by for a Coke, a pack of smokes, or a fresh coconut, hand husked by Kimleng with a speed and strength that belied her small stature.
At one point, an English fellow named Morgan brought a guitar over, and the two of us put on an impromptu show for Kimleng and her customers, handing off the guitar to one another after each song. After he left, Kimleng mentioned in passing that it was the first time she had seen or heard anyone play the guitar in person. On TV, of course, but never before in person. Morgan was quite talented, and he wrote some great tunes; he was, however, close to passing out, and although I gave him my business card, and we parted with promises to get in touch, I haven’t heard from him yet. I hope he writes; I would really like to write and/or perform with him again.
I had to be up at 6am for my bus/minivan ride back to Bangkok. Kimleng walked over to the bus station with me, and we said goodbye for the second time of my holiday, after which she hopped onto her mom’s scooter, and went off to school.