i love cambodia

of course i’m a total tourist and only see the superficial beauty of this place. but i love it anyway. i love the colonial french architecture (picture french quarter new orleans), the way people are always milling about everywhere, and especially the way everything is all dirty and worn. this place is living. people don’t hide away in their homes, they come outside, they eat outside, they talk and play games, they ride around on motos.

can you tell that i got out today?

the hotel is comfortable, but sterile–compared to the city outside the front gate. motodups (which i now believe refers to the fellows who drive people around on their motos and not the motos themselves) wait outside the front entrance because us foreigners don’t mind shelling out a whole dollar as opposed to just 300-1000 riel (7-25 cents) for a ride. chances are they know a little english and will ask your name, where you’re from, and how long you’ll be in cambodia. i usually chat (en route) about whether it’ll rain or what this or that fancy building is.

I didn’t have a chance to ride the motos on my last trip–i was kind of afraid and the riots diminished my desire to take any risks–until last night. i’ve been working with a guy named chris at the mission, and he invited me out with some expat friends for dinner. but in order to go along, i had to get to the hotel they were at. it was 8pm and dark, so i got my things together, walked out of the hotel and hopped on the back of a moto. very cool.

in conversations with friends (especially friends who’ve been around a little longer than I) we’ve talked about the importance of doing some sort of crazy thing in your life–something to shake things up, to affirm your independence–like doing the peace corps in poland or working at a hotel in alaska. a lot of times i presume the crazy things people do are mostly just crazy in retrospect. but if i was to fantasize about doing something that would break with the present direction of my life, i would move to phnom penh.

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