I was preparing the workshops for Krousar Thmey deaf students, when the email confirming that we’ll do the workshops with DDP – DCC in Kampong Cham arrived, I was very happy. They said that they will put me in contact with a deaf teacher named Selwyn, as Australian guy who’s been living in Phnom Penh since two years ago. He will come to Kampong Cham to stay with me during the week of the workshop, that’s great!
I need to freshen up a bit, so I take the bicycle to look for the French lighthouse. I’ve read in the guidebook that it is by Mekong’s shore, but it is not very clear how to get there. I see a small tower on the other side of the river and I think it might be that, so I head there.
While crossing the bridge I think about how different it is from the bamboo one; this bridge is huge, with a lot of traffic and a very steep slope. From the top of it, the tower seems really tiny, even funny, but dimensions normalize as I get closer.
Staring at the tower when I am near it, I realize that it is from another time, from the times of the French colony; it is beautiful and simple.
Looking at it from the inside and from the outside are two different worlds. When I get in, I look upwards and I get really scared. The walls form some kind of tunnel towards the sky, which you can climb using some metal steep stairs. Just having a look makes me die of fear of heights.
The guidebook says they have just been restored and that they are safe, but I don’t know what to do. I touch them and yes, they seem consistent. A seller comes from outside and I ask him if he usually uses the stairs, but he doesn’t and he leaves. I check them again and the metal looks hard, they seem resistant. What do I do? Shall I climb up there or not? With sandals or barefoot? Let’s do it! There I go! Up, with sandals!
I focus and I start climbing with determination, without looking down. I pass next to a window and it’s beautiful, I can see the river with the evening sun reflecting on it. I don’t stop. I keep on climbing until I reach the top, where there is a balcony for sightseeing. From there I can see the bridge, behind it the city, then the surroundings, later the river… I can feel the breeze… wonderful.
I am a bit nervous for being up here by myself. My legs are shaking a little. I’d rather go down before it gets dark. More calmed, I go down the metal stairs and, when I get to the ground, I breathe peacefully.
Back home I stop in the middle of the bridge to watch the lighthouse from the distance. How tricky… it seemed so small…