this was such a delightful welcome to a strange and yet familiar place. (Saigon Hotspot—college students that will tour you around HCMC for the chance to practice their English. I’ll arrange a similar tour of Hanoi when I get there.)
I shot the guard one of those Urgent American looks—we really can’t help ourselves—and he offered that I could go up if I paid him. This not being a time for principal, I of course responded “how much.” For a $5 note I got the high eastern view and more importantly, solitude for sunrise at Angkor Wat.
There were lots of plain shrimp, shrimp in glass noodles, shrimp on skewers, shrimp in other kinds of noodles, and shrimp in some sort of a little—well I don’t know what, but it was rather ugly and totally delicious. Lots of pork everything, fish everything, some chicken everything…and a large array of generally confusing-to-the-Western-palate desserts.
My eye can’t let go of the prodigious line of (probably) smoked whole pigs, hanging from their hooves. Big pigs, little pigs, ducks too. I quickly untangle the earbuds and snap away with my I-pod. Could I ever go to this market without taking a picture of something?
We took a slow tuk-tuk ride up the 10 km island to a beach area in the Mekong, where we rented a lttle cabana and I went for a swim. The river is sandy and shallow. It reverberates in my head with movie drama and horrific war associations. But in front of me, it’s just a slow muddy river with a bunch of boys playing in inner-tubes.
Quick note-some readers may not realize that hair dye was my first active step in the decision making and prep for this trip. Is this the time to go naturelle? No. Then what will it take? Stockpile. Then how-to-pack it? Break down and repackage. Well I have a dye strategy—I guess I’m going, right?
These tropical days, my brain can forget the ballast that would whisper doubt; remind me of the sweetness and pains of the past; beg for review and revision, organization and attrition. It’s left to work its schemes a million miles away, where it cannot push on me.
Oh and did I mention a mardi gras party at the home of the second-in-command at the US Embassy?…my work so far has been long days editing the grant reports for a grantor called Forum Syd—in Sweden I think. These would be difficult reports to write in one’s native tongue, but for the staff at KYSD who have very little formal training in English between them—
Report one from Phnom Penh. The first 3 days.
A collection of small thoughts on the unfortunate thoughts, sights, incidents we run into.