It’s already been a month since I made my first trek to Phnom Penh and experienced this well-known yet no less easy twelve hour layover in the McDonald’s-less Incheon Airport in Korea. The last time I was here, only a mere hundred feet away from where I sit now as I finished another entry, I was crying my eyes out. It was after a long night of slamming Soju and Asahi with Yoshi and our new friend, Misato, hashing out all of our frustrations and navigating through feelings of our impending work trip. I had experienced a restless six hours in the airport hotel, I was feeling anxious and disoriented, not knowing what to expect as I went back to the country I had left so recently and simply exhausted physically and emotionally.
As Mad Men comes to it’s final season, I’ve been brushing up on past episodes, remembering the times I laughed, cried, and wrung my hands at the characters who so deftly mirror us in so many ways. Pride, lust, anger, fear, love (?), self loathing, understanding- it’s all there. Just as it is in life past the television screen.
Eleven. That’s how many sets of twenty four hours I’ve been back on extraordinary Washington ground since I boarded my plane leaving Cambodia, looking back over my shoulder with tears in my eyes and anxiety battering through my chest.
I’m sitting in a little bubblegum pink room in Saigon feeling exhausted- emotionally and physically. Even though I’ve had banh mi and pho on the mind all day as one should when visiting Vietnam, I decided to pop in for a bite at a Japanese restaurant around the corner in honor of my good friend Duncan. He hops on a plane to Japan from Phnom Penh tonight looking forward to new adventures drinking sake under cherry blossom trees. When walking into the little place, “Irasshaimase irasshaimase!” rang out several times as it always does from the staff when entering a Japanese establishment (or at least plenty at The Sushi Bar– one of his favorite haunts)- and it took me back to plenty of meals shared. Maybe all that teppan yaki toro maki helped push his decision…
via The Prevailing Taste
I could tell from the start of our trip to Bangkok for our 2014 New Year’s celebration it would be the beginning of a year full of adventure, growth, trials, opportunities, and plenty of reflection. Ritchie, my wonderful mom Sheila, and I hopped onto the little Air Asia plane from Phnom Penh to Bangkok ready for five days of solid holiday to meet Ritchie’s mom, Wendy, in her transit from Glasgow, Scotland to Phnom Penh, Cambodia. I couldn’t think of a more special yet understated way to begin a new chapter together.
I was having a difficult evening last night, to say the least.
Even my usually methodical and soothing time pounding treadmill at the gym wasn’t enough to alleviate the heaviness I’d been carrying for the past week- if not longer. To add to the fact that I was already feeling down and out, I felt like I needed to order an extra case of sports bras for the amount of support I felt I wasn’t receiving. While untrue, in the moment I felt like I was standing alone.
To scarcely brush the surface of current political activities in Cambodia: there has been civil unrest, scare and pain tactics from both sides of political parties, army trucks with soldiers in full SWAT gear hanging on corners, widespread fear among locals and some expats, and harrowing suffering for the people of Cambodia. Not all is negative, during the time since the elections, bonds have been formed that haven’t been seen for decades and the youth, individuals aged 30 or under making up roughly 70 percent of the population- have started to push out of their shells, taking risks- sometimes unwarranted, and speaking to be heard and acting to be acknowledged. During what was supposed to be a peaceful protest last week on the Riverside in Phnom Penh, barbed wire barricades and physically harmful methods were used against the crowd. Not being in the midst of the scenes physically myself or having read the full amount of coverage, I can’t say what exactly started the violence, how things escalated, or when. What I do know is that there has been a haze of unease over the city for the past week. Last night, “police and thugs dressed in civilian clothes descended on a peaceful vigil at Wat Phnom last night, and set upon the roughly 20 protesters with slingshots, batons and electrics prods.” (Source: The Phnom Penh Post) A total of eleven were injured in the brawl and human right workers and journalists among the crowds were injured from marbles, some the size of golf balls and electric prods.