Friday, February 5, 2016

A Great expat, but A Shitty Tourist: Thoughts from Phnom Penh



I haven’t been loving Phnom Penh like I thought I would. Perhaps I’m still in post-Saigon blues, which may have been made obvious by the fact that I was so excited to see a Tous les Jours at Aeon on mall that I almost walked over there and bought bread. 
Yes, I am missing Saigon. 
And I am missing the buzz. 
And I am missing the constant happiness I felt there. 
I thought it had to do with being present. I thought it was here to stay. But alas, it dissipated as soon as we crossed the Cambodian border. I am no longer content with how much I am getting done and not getting done. I have a nagging feeling that there is much to do, but I lack the enthusiasm to do it. Even when I spend hours blogging, as today, I feel like I have wasted that time. That I took too much time working on my blog and that my time could have been spent more wisely. Why is that? In Saigon I took such joy in any task, monumental or mundane. I was happy everyday with what I accomplished and satisfied with that I didn’t accomplish. I wish to feel that way again and I am disappointed to learn that the feeling was not something I could control. It was not inside me, rather, it was something very dependent on my external environment. Can’t I make myself feel that way here? I am not sure.

Phnom Penh doesn’t charm me. It is dirty and decaying, but does not have the grace or faded elegance of Yangon. Nor is it developed enough to compete with Saigon or Bangkok. Aeon mall was a nice touch, but as soon as you leave the automatic glass doors and walk across the street, bed sheets cover glassless windows, and buildings look as though they are about to topple over. All this beside pretentious chateau-like homes surrounded by high walls and gates. I don’t want to have to live behind a wall. I would rather live amongst the people peeling boiled eggs on the street and children kicking up dirt with their bare feet. 

The Cambodian sunset was glorious and slow, keeping with the pace of life in this city. It’s nearly 6:20 and there is still a hazy pink glow in the sky. The sun, tried from burning brightly all day, becomes lethargic, and simply rolls over, back to the earth, and dozes off. Its’ not a setting, it’s a sleeping. With each exhalation the sky changes color slightly, darkening from pink to purple, purple to navy, as though there were color to its breath. When I look up from typing at my computer I can see its slow change.

- Monday, Jan. 25,  Mojo Cafe, Phnom Penh, 5:44 pm

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