Monday, December 19, 2016

Four Men And A Little Lady

Having made my new friend and with it being my last night I splurged and ended up at the Billabong Resort. A single room for $20. I'll survive.

Aaron Spelling most certainly consulted on the building and branding of the Billabong because I half expect Amanda Woodward to push me into the blue tiled pool located in the courtyard flanked by lounge chairs and neatly folded towels. 

My clean and comfortable room, located on the second floor and has shampoo in the bathroom and a mini fridge. It's basically the Ritz.

After unloading my bag I meet back up with Carla and an Austrian friend of hers for dinner. Sister's Restaurant is just down the road and for a couple of bucks will serve you something with indistinguishable seafood and indeterminate flavor. Needless to say - it was a bad call. My dinner companions didn't seem up for the night market so we all, instead, take the short walk back to the hostel and have banana splits and break up talk in the courtyard. 

My sleep was restful and rise early. Giving me plenty of time to utilize the reliable wifi to catch up on on Netflix. A super cultural experience.

I was the black and white Mark Duplass film 'Blue Jay' and marvel and his ability to capture the tragic beauty so often found in life. 

I make it to the pool by 8am with absolutely no shame as I am trying to get my last drops of vitamin D in before heading back to the Northern tundra of New York city and run into the homies from the night before as they gather to head to the killing fields. For a moment I consider putting on appropriate clothing and joining them. 

Part of what I've learned from traveling is that I must accept I cannot see everything. Much like in life you have to choose door A or B and I realize getting my niece a doll means more to me than a place of pass genocide.

I pass affectionate skinny Asian girls with exposed tracks and the Eastern European man who 'love' them, or who have at least paid for said affection for the weekend as I meander my way to the market where I get something for everyone on my life with riels to spare.

When I return to the hostel with my newly purchased goodies I reunite with the cast of Cambodia Place and we share from the day - what see, eat, avoid.

I pack my bags and relax at the hostel, and head out to the night market with Karla and British baker Matt who will be leaving in the morning to surprise his Mum for Christmas.

We, once again, don't make it to the market but we do land at an open air restaurant and I order WAY too much in hopes of sharing and instead buy my companions and beer and consume all solid calories alone. The dinner is lengthy and chatty and although we were denied service solely based on our being Caucasian the food was aplenty and the bill was low. 

With some reticence make it back to Billabong and I gather my things before hoping into yet another tuk tuk (I love them so much!) and head to the airport. 

The joy of starting your period, just as you start your two day journey home is one I can't quite put into words. The joys of being a woman are boundless. As are the joys of travel.

I will not pretend to be filled with joy or hope, at least not at the moment. But with country 36 checked off of my list, with the help of four men and a little lady, I am filled with experiences. And for that, I can be thankful. 

I love you, Cambodia. 

Saturday, December 17, 2016

A Baby Jellyfish In My Vagina

You know you're not in Kansas anymore when the driver for hire (a tuk tuk in this case) literally pulls over so he can take a call. I find the antiquated ways of the third world equal parts charming and frustrating. In New York I would likely be up in arms at the blatant disregard for my dire need to get wherever it is I was going, but here, I am just along for the ride.

If only I could employ this que sera sera attitude in my everyday life. Or rather my life back in the 'real world.'

Just across from my abode for the evening I sit in a papasan chair that may or may not contain mold, bugs or other's pit and but juices but tonight is mellow and I fret not. Instead I greedily slurp down my pineapple shake, listen to some Jurassic 5 and read up on addiction and abuse as I wait for my diner companion.

Garreth meets me for dinner and we dine under the stars before he coerces me into making moves to Otres 1 where soon find myself amongst a throng of 21 year olds waxing poetic about the meaning of life at Ibiza Beach Club, replete with black light paint and fire dancers.

We chat. I sit quietly in my gauzy gown and when my age is revealed - by me - the collective gasp is audible. And welcomed! A 27 year-old Aussie, who I later found out slept with one of her students, says she thought I was younger than her. Brit boy says he doesn't understand why everyone in the worldages better than the British. Its the little things... (and it was dark)

Around midnight the boozy bunch partake in fire limbo which, I don't know about you, but sounds like an EXCELLENT idea to me and the fire boys with their lithe and flexible frames are impressive and mildly sexually arousing.

As much as I enjoy watching the mating rituals amongst the inebriated, it is getting late and time for this old timer to leave the party. Though my new friend articulates that he is in the mood for 'affection,' I am not and take my own personal tuk tuk back to my private room that I am currently sharing with a gaggle of insects and turn in for the night around 3 am. Not too shabby for an old broad abroad... (yes - THAT will be the name of my future memoir - it is decided)

Our promise to meet for a kayaking adventure is met and though I am late the sun is high in the sky when Garreth and I climb into the brightly colored boat. 

On this particular journey I am crossing paths with people in my age range and it leaves me thinking, wondering, contemplating. What is 35?

Young at 35
Wise at 35

With little sleep we schlep our way out to the island situated in the crook of the bay and set up shop - at least for a bit. 

Its has a nice Blue Lagoon quality - with the exception of the sting. The sting one can only experience if they sit in the sand, allowing the sun to warm them and the waves to wash away their sins and... allow baby jellyfish to slip under their neon nylon and situate themselves all up in one's vagina. Being a girl is just fun.

Garreth and I enjoy the rest of our day on the beach back on the mainland before he has to head his way and I have to head mine. I am in my Yankees cap, trying to maintain my already freckled face when two young girls come up and ask to make us bracelets or feed us fruit. We order pineapple and mango and listen to the two girls chat and giggle in Khmer but really 15 year old girl is the same in any language.

The girl with my matching hat on makes me an anklet, despite my repeated insistence that I was not interested and, as she ties it to my bronzed ankle tells me it will bring me good luck. Lets hope.

Such a lovely time is had that I decide - on the fly - to stay another day. After one more night in smelly room #2 I will be left with just a little over a day to shop for loved ones and catch my breath back in the capitol before beginning the long journey home.

Breakfast and one more night in smelly room 2, leaving me a little over a day to shop for loved ones and catch my breath before the long journey home.

The idea of having to go back to the streets of New York and bother with putting shoes on my feet before walking out of the front door is not something to which I look forward.
Vendors 15 year old girls - same in any language

My last night on Victory Beach I am gifted with a breathtaking cotton candy sunset

While pondering papasan style on the darkened beach it occurred to me that 6 months ago, to the day, I was in Egypt. Not only was I in Egypt, but I was in love and, for the most part, I was happy.

It's amazing how much tragedy and torture can be fit into half a year. It's incredible how your life can be destroyed and your entire person irrevocably changed - all in a season or two.

Getting a bit too maudlin I decided instead to turn back to my WW II novel and attempt to lighten the mood...

Belly filled with Cambodian cuisine I walk home in the dark along the sea.Walk home in dark along the sea.

My last morning in Southern Cambodia - and quite possible in Cambodia in general I meditate on the beach in a wicker chain chained to a tree. Or, at least I try. My mind is like Grand Central Station at rush hour and I try desperately to just breath. I try to calm mind, to quiet it, to focus on my breath but there is undoubtedly a pop song playing in the background and a to do list formulating in the corner. I am thinking of loves lost and whether or not my socks are clean. They say women are multitaskers and generally I'm proud to be one. But here it proves problematic.

Time for a pancake (note: not plural) and tea and before and you know it the bright orange minibus was parked on the bright red soil and, just like that I was off.

And deeply sad to leave

Luckily I met lovely British Carla - here traveling for a year and I have an ally in transit. Especially helpful when creepy gay sex worker is lounging in the back of the bus with an oily leer and a mustard button down. Even making eye contact with him immediately made me feel the need to bathe. Ick.