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For those of you who are not familiar with the concept of a ‘homestay’, let me enlighten you. A homestay is a form of accommodation that allows visitors to rent a room with a local family as a cheaper alternative to hostels. Homestays are particularly popular amongst tourists in South-East Asian countries as a way to experience the authentic routines and raw occurrences of everyday life for local inhabitants – but mostly it is because it is the only place in the world where residents are OK with 8 or so rowdy youths on their gap yahs camping on their floor for less than 5 dollars a night.

If you have ever seen an A-list celebrity topple out of a hummer on their way to get some froyo, you are no doubt acquainted with the throng of paparazzi that often accompany them. Our entrance to the homestay was much the same – except instead of paparazzi it was hundreds of children, and instead of the sound of clicking shutters it was the sound of ‘Gangnam Style’ blaring from 9 enormous speakers. And there was no froyo. Only warm Mountain Dew… and dance.

Three and a half hours later and myself and my group looked like we had just finished hand-washing a water buffalo. Drenched in sweat and dust, some of us limping from injuries, we emerged – defeated, but alive. I will no longer accept claims that Thailand Full Moon Parties are the greatest parties on earth – because unless you have been proposed to during the 4th repeat of the Khmer version of Maroon 5’s ‘Tattoo’ while 4 cambodians hang off your neck…you have not partied. I can’t really put into words what those 3 1/2 hours were like. I remember it as a blur of traditional Khmer dancing and Psy with a lot of ‘running man’ moves performed in front of the entire village who had congregated out the front of the house. I knew in my heart, as I was sandwiched between the swaying hips of the local police constable and the 15 year old girl who had just asked me to marry her brother, that this was a special moment.

By the time we crawled up the stairs to our room, we were too exhausted to care about the fact that we were sleeping on bamboo mats on a bare wooden floor. Even the constant stream of farm noise from the nocturnal cows was not a problem as it was drowned out by the dull ringing in our ears. I have never had a sounder sleep.

Stay groovy Prey Veng. It was a pleasure.

must run,

ellen.

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