It has been a dramatic month indeed.
But I'm going to reboot and say that the new year officially started on Jan 23rd, the Year of the Dragon.
Well, what has been happening in my world?
Cambodia was absolutely stunning. It is the type of place that I never thought I could fall in love with, but it was indeed, that very type of place that I could.
We stopped in Phnom Penh the first night and did some touristy things but it was the way in which the people in Cambodia has continued to move on from its horrible past that completely took my breath away. During our short stay, we did a road trip from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap through to Poipet (the Thai border). The little provinces where we stopped, the rural "farmer's markets", the temples, the little stalls in front of a family's home, where we bought coconuts, the road-side produce stalls, and the the vistas along the way completed the experience.
We ate at some crazy places, at one place someone had to escort us because it was near the border of Thailand and no one knew where it was...including our driver who seemed to know Cambodia back to front. We ended up driving down a dirt road (most roads are pretty bad) to a place where apparently, used to be littered with landmines...I know. But of course, they're all gone now...
We also headed up to the the Cambodian wilderness, in Phnom Kulen, River of Thousand Lingas. Despite the breathtaking vistas, there were also sights of sadness, the beggers, the mamed, the blind, and the deep poverty that was so confronting. I remember a father and son who sold coconuts where we had lunch. I remember thinking how they could possibly get those coconuts up here, because cars are still largely a luxury of the rich and it was an incredibly rough ride up the mountain side. I was told they have to ride up here either on their fixies or motor bikes. I remember the look on that kid's face when he asked for our left overs. But most of all, I remember seeing the despair on their faces. But I also remember the look of relief when I slipped him a note to maybe cover the rest of his week's coconut sales. I suppose it was my way to navigate my conscience...perhaps that could've been seen as cheating. Perhaps I could have done more.
I ate so many fruits. So many. Those that even though are occasionally available here, were so much better, so much fresher.
Star apples (not star fruit), jack fruit (literally picked from a tree and ripped open), durian - so many durian, so many times, so powerfully strong, so delicious, I absolutely love durian, lotus seeds from fresh lotus, palm seeds, fresh palm sugar, green varietal bananas, mamey sapote, and of course, coconuts. A damn lot of coconuts.
I was absolutely addicted to fresh coconuts - and on my final day, I had 8.... Yes, eight in one day. I was expecting to be sick, but I wasn't, it was fate.
And of course, everyone who goes to Cambodia visits Angkor Wat - it was indeed amazing. More amazing than words, more amazing than photos.