We are now back in Saigon after a wonderful week in Phnom Penh. I have so much to write about our stay there, but have not been able to bear tearing the dream membrane by accessing the internet when all I wanted to do was immerse myself in the sensations and thoughts I was processing. Sometimes you need to retreat into the organic, flesh and blood reality of a place and absorb its atmosphere through the pores and the spirit – and the lens of the eye and the camera. I would like to do an extended piece on it all when my brain is in the right place.
The hotel I am writing this from, the Reverie Saigon, is ridiculously swish and expensive compared to our other accommodation, but our instincts were right to want to finish lavishly ( as a celebration of finishing the book ) and regroup before the flight back to freezing Tokyo tomorrow morning. Also to recover, in our swank pad on the thirtieth floor, from dodgy stomachs from suspect river fish and D’s ill advised decision to eat roadside deep fat fried frog; and a weird, smarting insect bite I have on my arm from the airport in Phnom Penh – I don’t think we are even going to leave the hotel today.
Which is like something from an eighties American soap opera; extravagantly nouveau riche, all gold, chandeliers, and peacocks; gloriously baroque, gilded furniture that often feels like cast- offs from a Kubrick production; activities today may include browsing the empty shopping arcades for sofas at Poltrona Frau; vases, glassware, unnecessities, observed by stupendously smiling, obsequious, liveried staff; solicitously ascending and descending slow moving escalators like characters from Body Double; eloping to the ballroom and the Chinese banquet hall, the panorama lounge later, with its view over Ho Chi Minh, for a final holiday cocktail – if we are still alive..
For breakfast this morning Duncan selected St Giles’ The Tycoon, an excellent, but not much talked about, masculine-leaning scent by Bertrand Duchaufour that has a raspingly green opening of pomelo, galbanum and unripened lemon peel over ginger, nutmeg and tea – with possibly some hidden aldehydes for extra sillage – over a neo-classic, semi-pungent Antaeus/Kouros- like rich base of castoreum, labdanum, patchouli and oak moss; a clever accord that references the past classics for men but desaturates some of the excess muscle. In small doses ( I specified one spray ) this works brilliantly as a magnetic fragrance that is bracing, confident and very sexy. More than that, it can become overwhelming – as if your inner tycoon had got rather out of control, and rather than just lounging in the lap of luxury, you intended to purchase the entire hotel.
Happy New Year !