And I hope, wish, want good things for Cambodia, for the naked children playing in my street, for the animated daughter at my laundry, heading off to kindergarten. Children are everywhere; the population is so young. It’s hard not to think about their future.
Suddenly it seemed silly to fly from hither to yon and over again, all to the tune of lost days, almost $700 and failure to explore this neighboring country, when the access is so easy and the reviews are so strong.
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.
This was notable for being a large mixed age and gender Khmer crowd with just a very few foreigners and a very unselfconscious mingle. I was surprised to be dragged back out onto the dance area by mature women who probably have no English but enjoyed the sharing. Everyone laughed, danced, stole each other’s partners (always ambiguous in circle dancing) and smeared powder. No language necessary. We wanted to leave? “No, one more, one more.” These are the moments that vindicate solo traveling and are worth the risks of a little loneliness.
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.
I have a much fancier TV than I do at home and rarely watch anything. There are a zillion channels.There is something a little intriguing about the Indian soap operas dubbed into Khmer…
When I decided to thumb through Ireland, I got busy putting all the fear-laced warnings about hitch-hiking out of my head. I hadn’t contemplated the also-fearful-and-more-likely reality that I’d be expected to converse with perfect strangers for hours.
There now, there’s nothing so odd about carrying a large mammalian skeleton through the nice residential part of town. Not until a car comes in the opposite direction, that is. “Hey Roy, who’s the girl with the dead animal. D’ya know?”
I’m screaming around the circular airport drive to find a spot to get rid of this car. I’m almost back to the first building. I’ll just follow this guy into the employee parking lot. I make it on his card swipe. I lead a charmed life.
Actually, we didn’t do so badly between his few phrases of English, occasional bits of German and much hand-waving. The will to communicate is everything and Hungarians have plenty of that.