Slices of life…
Life in Phnom Penh was as hustle bustle as it comes. It’s what you could call, a city of sensorial overload….
When I first moved there in 2006, I would frequently seek refuge in various spots about the city as a means of “time out” from an environment so confrontingly different from anything I’d experienced. Yet even from the beginning, I never a doubted that Phnom Penh was a place I wanted to call home; somewhere I could be myself;somewhere I wanted to stay.
The “Same Same but Different” mantra, only proved to cover so much though….. suburban Auckland was light-years from my lifestyle in Phnom Penh. Below – my kitchen (didn’t end up eating at home much funnily enough) & bathroom & the alley-way – both the only way in & out. At that point in my life however, difference was exactly what I needed & my home was most definitely my haven.
The still, steamy days of monsoon were my favourite by far. The voluminous clouds would roll in, twenty shades of grey & gather along the city horizon. As they’d burst down upon Phnom Penh, part of you wanted to run & hide & part of you wanted to stand out, arms wide open & drink it all in.
Many an afternoon was spent sitting out on my balcony watching the lightning snake its way over the river. More often than not, as the rain grew heavier, the chances of leaving my small apartment would narrow by the minute. The rain poured & we’d cower in the doorway exhilarated by its assault. I often found a bottle of red to be the best solution to passing a monsoon afternoon.
To this day I still crave the calm of nights spent on the river; watching flashes of lightning flicker across curtains blown about by the Mekong breeze. Down by the river, night-time was eerily quiet – a stark contrast to Sisowath Quay just meters away.
When, in the early hours of morning, the call to prayer echoed across the far side of the riverbank & the fishermen would head out for a day’s work, once foreign sounds of morning stirrings quickly became comforting sounds of the familiar. Of home, of what your world was.
Cambodia itself is not a place for those wanting predictability, reliability or simplicity. You either take it on & go with it or you don’t & instead find yourself in a constant battle.
The longer you spend there, the more you see, the greater your understanding & appreciation of its complexities.
For me, six years on & having had only a taste of it, I still hanker to be back there on a daily basis. There is much about Cambodia I cannot get out of my system – there is much about it luring me back.
Our current plan is to make Cambodia our next goal even if it is only for a month or two at the end of the current Cup… 2013 is fast approaching & October 2013 sees us leaving the US at the conclusion of the 34th America’s Cup – fingers crossed our plans remain in tact & we will be taking our boys for a taster of this phenomenal nation.