I lay on the treatment table, eyes closed with medical tape holding my bottom lashes separate from the top and a spa light glaring through my eyelids, I spoke to Kimleang as she, with surgeon like precision, applied eyelash extensions. As usual we talked about our jobs, the upcoming holiday, family, and this time- about our names. She, also Vietnamese, mentioned that my mother had told her that one of my middle names is also Kim. I knew this already, but Kimleang told me that in Vietnamese, Kim means ‘gold’ or ‘golden’.
It’s been two years since I’ve started writing for WUPP (What’s Up Phnom Penh) as they had released their first issue the month before I arrived. So to celebrate their 2nd birthday is a treat not only for the WUPP team, but for me as well. I’m proud to have seen this little magazine make it’s mark across Phnom Penh with its black and hot pink cover being known by the masses.
I can’t step up to the plate and claim gastronomic knowledge and a palate boasting Michelin Star experience. I mean, I could exist on McDonald’s cheeseburgers, Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, Taco Bell five layer burritos, Papa John’s pizza, Monster Munch, and Gregg’s Chicken Bakes in a dream world. And while there are plenty of delicious spots in the city ranging from basic, good but cheap sushi (The Sushi Bar), innovative, massive, and tasty burgers that drip all over your hands (Meat & Drink), tasty chilled ramen noodles doused in tahini with an Americanized spin (Sesame Noodle Bar), and muy muy fantastico Mexicana (ALMA Café)- I will always have a soft spot in my heart (and a big place in my belly) for The Common Tiger.
I’ve thought long and hard about how to address my recent flight with Qatar Airways from Bangkok to Edinburgh. I’m one to call out businesses for bad customer service or practice within reason, but my experience I had with Qatar Airways was of a different animal entirely. One that I hope to never encounter again.
It’s days like today that make me miss home the most. The sky is an ominous gray, rain drips down the window mirroring the tears I deftly try to wipe away before anyone notices. Even the music I have plugged into my ear buds, music that should make me happy, excited, and alive, only ushers my thoughts to a warm car, artificially heated, flying down a highway with the sound turned up high and a friend in the passenger seat. Something completely unavailable here in Cambodia.
It’s been two years now since I stepped foot in the lands of The Kingdom of Wonder to make it my home. It’s actually not difficult to remember how I felt those first few hours off the plane.
Being picked up by my mom who at the time lived here and somewhat paved my way into Cambodia, and sitting in her orange and white tile checked kitchen smoking Esse menthols and listening to the geckos chatter outside on her patio. I won’t forget the first week when the luscious scent of frangiapani overwhelmed me as I roamed the quiet back streets, the soothing sound of monks chanting in the morning from the wat across the street, the romanticism of this foreign world and all that it introduced me to, the people I first gazed upon, and the will to create something of my own.
The night before I left for Scotland, I dipped down into the deep dark ocean of avant garde in The Dollhouse’s annual and final Glamazon show. It was stunning send off and went by like a monsoon, leaving everyone in it’s wake covered in glitter and hairspray. I’ve shared articles in the past about Glamazon, with its jaw dropping ensembles, funky transformations, and choreographed drama but Glamazon: Abyss being the last installment of the show felt very different.
“Let us weigh your baggage please.” “Would you like your luggage wrapped?” “May I see your flight details?” “EXCUSE ME! EXCUSE ME!”
There’s something both horrible and exciting when stepping foot into an airport. Between the hustle and bustle of people both milling around at a snail’s pace ooh-ing and ahh-ing at the country’s claim-to-fame airport store (Smoked salmon? Kilt wearing potatoes? Eiffel Tower key chains?) and others crashing into each other like waves against fat seals, the energy of an airport- whether it be a large or small- tends to have an effect on me emotionally, physically, and for those of us with extra care for vanity and comfort- my aesthetics.