I can’t quite remember how it came up but, at some point on the trip it became known that one of my fellow travellers would be celebrating her birthday on the last day… Now, in my family, birthdays are of utmost importance. There must be lots of cake and the celebrant should be spoilt for the whole day (if not week/month!) I may have given up my career as an events manager but this seemed like too good an opportunity to miss. I therefore started scheming in my head and decided that I would plan a little party before we headed out for our last night dinner in Siem Reap.
Firstly, I headed for the market (where I may have got somewhat distracted and bought a few more trinkets for my house back home!) and purchased matching Cambodian bracelets for us all. I also picked up some nuts and crisps as well as a bottle of champagne. My next plan was to get a birthday cake…this, however was harder than it sounded. After having traipsed around the streets for a good hour, I was still cake-less and unable to find any sort of bakery or establishment that seemed to sell and sort of cake. As I was wondering what to do, I passed a group of Tuk Tuk drivers and, in my naivety, thought that they would a) be able to understand my request in English and b) know their city well enough to take me to a bakery. I told them what I was looking for and after a lively conversation between the 3 of them, one of them told me to get in and off we went. I was happy to feel the cool breeze in my hair as we headed towards my requested bakery. After a few minutes, he pulled up outside a soap shop……
I have no idea where the concept of a bakery and a birthday cake got so lost in translation that he thought I wanted to purchase handmade Cambodian soap however, this was most definitely not going to be able to help me with my mission. I tried once again to explain wht it was I was actually looking for and finally, I saw the lightbulb ‘ping’ in his head and he started saying birthday cake over and over and acting out the blowing out of candles. Satisfied that we finally understood each other, he set off again…
We drove to the edge of the city and suddenly appeared to be on a road which resembled an A road here in the UK. We kept on driving for a good 20 mins and a little bit of me thought that I may be about to be murdered on the roadside (not dramatic at all!) I could see the news headlines back in the UK… anyway, I digress. My driver suddenly started gesticulating and I saw that he was pointing towards what looked like a rather sweet little bakery…ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE ROAD. Before I knew what was happening, he had screeched to a halt and we were squeezing through a small gap in the central reservation. My heart in my mouth, we pulled up outside the bakery and he came in with me. I purchased a pistachio and raspberry small sponge cake with an Italian buttercream frosting and they even wrote ‘Happy Birthday Sima’ on it for me. After a heated discussion between the driver and the baker, they said it would be $8 so I dutifully handed it over and they gave me the cake as well as some candles and napkins.
My lovely driver then took me back to my hotel (which I had to direct him to – I mean, London cabbies would not get away with not knowing their own city!) I was fully expecting to be charged lots of $$$ for the ride but he only asked me for $5!! I gave him $10 as he had after all, got me what I wanted and went back in to the hotel.
Armed with my champagne, snacks and cake, I set up a little party on the balcony of the room before showering and getting ready for dinner. Sima arrived at 6, closely followed by the hotel manager who had helped me with my scheming and had champagne flutes, plates, knives and a bunch of flowers from the hotel.
We had a lovely pre dinner party and I think Sima enjoyed the start of her birthday few days as well as my story of the Tuk Tuk cake mission! I had a small slice of cake and bloused accordingly which all seemed to go very smoothly!h