Cambodian New Year 2023
So many new year celebrations. This year had the traditional one on December 31st. Then I went to Vietnam for lunar new year or Tet.
Now it is going to be Khmer new years. The holiday lasts three days of eating, drinking, visiting family. Khmer new year is April 14 to 16. We won’t be going anywhere because day after it ends we go to Vietnam for a week.
Coming back a week later we head to the province to see mum. She has asked repeatedly for us to visit. It is a 3 hour drive there. Almost to the Thai border. Closest I will ever get to visiting Thailand. Here’s a bonus question.
Do you know what Siem Reap means?
It’s about Thailand. There’s a hint for you. Not a lot of love back then when the Khmer kicked Thailand’s ass. Worthwhile to remember in history the Khmer empire stretched all over the place. Also the temple complex of Angkor is much much bigger than what is seen now.
So it all wraps around to new years trips and celebrations. A trip to see mum and living in Siem Reap.
Today is the view
This morning at breakfast alin asked me what day it was. I had the fun of teasing her and reminding her we leave tomorrow for some days. I asked her the other day why she did not know the time or day. She laughed deliciously and told me,
Only now matters honey and now I have you
So bring on some day. Or other. A holiday or three. A visit to the province. Where there are no expats or tourists. Sign me up.
Trip to Kep
Well for whatever reason, sitting over a delicious home cooked dinner of white fish from Tonle Sap Lake and potatoes and carrots sautéed over coal, we looked at the temperatures the next week. Alin looked at me and said,
we should go to Kep
So we decided to go this Friday. It takes two bus rides of about 9 hours to get there but we felt with the discounts I get on booking.com we should just go. I got 2/3 off the price of the boutique hotel we wanted. Same one as before with the nice pool. Free breakfast included and I’m sure we will avail the crab curry again and make it to Kep beach for some seafood.
Mostly it is about the higher temps coming up and our desire to wimp out.
So wimping out is easy when both adults want to go. We do know an expat in Kampot but have no real desire to see him again. However, some of Alin’s family own a restaurant we want to visit again in Kampot so we will go there.
So I decided to redo the Mastodon thingy. I decided on this mastodon instance which seems nice and general and I have not really followed anyone yet and perhaps I won’t and just browse the hashtags I like to see. I think it is when I follow people and see some of the nonsense, it heightens my desire to leave. Now I will just post images and my blogposts there much like before. I also played around again with webfinger since it is easy to make it work on blot by adding in a file on dropbox. Now I post also on my pixelfed instance as well. I don’t know if I will keep both or just start using pixelfed more or less. I like it better because there are only photos there while the rest of the shitposting makes me want to leave.
Hitting export too fast
Well I wanted to add a bit more on here after sending the markdown file to dropbox but just went ahead and sent without. One of the beautiful and simple things about Blot is that it is all markdown files and I can just add this stuff and copy it over again and republish or export or whatever the F its called.
I also walked today and had to wait because it seemed both hot and humid in the afternoon and I spent time at the swimming pool earlier. When I walk a shorter route or whatever, I always see this tree.
I also think it is so beautiful and I forget to just take a photo of it because the color seems stunning to me.
I guess we started out to do some touristy things. We did do some. We went to Bat Cave and also Bamboo train. Both were ok. I had done both before but never went to the top of this hill at the cave. The train lost its funky and soulful thing and is just touristy with bigger and unsafe cars. It used to be a single rail and the cars taken apart and put back together when meeting one coming the opposite way. Now it’s nothing like that. Can’t say I like the new one.
We ended up most days at the swimming pool during the days, going for slow walks around the city and then dinner and beer at The River Cafe. I really like the place.
Then Alin met some of her extended family from Poipet province. We went around for the day basically seeing the attractions with them. Their little girl wanted to stay in Battambang a night so I did that. Last was dinner with them at the river.
Here’s a photo album of Battambang. It was nice weekend trip although we both felt it was much warmer there than home here in Siem Reap.
Back home in hours
We got a driver and car to take us home yesterday. It takes about 3 hours to make it home and we both were glad to get back to our apartment and the comforts we have here.
Our next little trip is to Vietnam for a week in April. We are going to Da Nang and Hoi An so Alin can see central Vietnam. We decided this is the last international trip for 2023 and instead we will visit many provinces, parks, cities and other places in Cambodia. One of the perks having a wonderful Alin like I do.
Few other things
I have been thinking of going back to Mastodon yet again. I post regularly on Pixelfed and enjoy the community around sharing photos there. I don’t quite know what it is I want on Mastodon any longer. Maybe there is nothing to want or need and just go back to have fun. Last time I really enjoyed my instance but the political, social, shitposting stuff really got me down. I would like to think I have moved beyond that but it sure reminded me of Facebook before in 2020 before I deleted that account.
Perhaps I will return and perhaps I won’t return. There is no pressing thing I feel I’m missing on the fediverse. Alin does all the social media for us. She loves doing TikTok videos, posting photos on Facebook, and sometimes perusing Instagram. I don’t do any of those so she shares things with me at times. Mastodon has felt much like Facebook to me and I don’t know I want that back again. So gonna take some time and decide if I want all that back again. In the meanwhile pixelfed does well for me as a social hub.
I also stopped writing regularly and I would like get the regular walks back with the words and photos here. That’s about it for now. Battambang was fun but I doubt we will go back again. After Vietnam we will do some trips in Cambodia.
March 21, 2023 Cambodia Battambang vagabonding writing blogging
moving to the beat…
Tonight we go to a Cambodian wedding party. If you have not been, it is not a staid and laidback event. Kinda starts that way but soon there is live music dancing. Food and beer goes on into the evening. Sobriety is optional. The event starts at 5pm or whenever people arrive. It ends at some point. We’re going for the free food and beer obviously and to maybe wish the bride a happy life. Also slip some lucky money into an envelope and give away.
That’s the first part of the weekend. Next up we head to Battambang for a long weekend of really nothing at all. We just decided to go and stay at a boutique hotel because the pool looked nice and I have not been there since 2018. Of course, Alin has friends there so perhaps a dinner with them.
I’m with Alin…
That’s what I say a lot at the wedding and probably in Battambang too. I just let her talk Khmer to everyone and do whatever it is necessary to get done. I know probably 10 words in Khmer with lots of coaching. Doing good!
Battambang has some expats around and retirees too. Not like the province where Alin’s mom lives. There are no expats there. I spent two full days there and did not see another western face or hear English spoken. At coffee, the Khmer waitress giggled a lot and blushed when I ordered an iced latte. Why? I dunno.
It was the same going up the mountain to the Preah Vihear temple except for our driver. He spoke good English and insisted on practicing on me.
I bring this up because I am told Alin’s mum wishes us to visit again and spend a weekend in Preah Vihear Province. That is 5 hours driving folks and the roads are fun. So I guess sometime in March maybe we will go. This time, no family to take us thankfully. I would prefer to rent a car or taxi or whatever and go. That way we stop when we want and we don’t have a car full of family with a 2 month old baby and two young boys getting boisterous in the backseat with boredom.
Coffee time too
This morning we went for coffee and talked a bit. It turns out Alin dislikes expats at a basic level. I had told her I felt detached from the community and she thinks it is good to not be a member as much as possible and just enjoy a few friendships if I have them. Truth is, I don’t. It dawned on me after we talked, getting older is hell on making friendships. It took me a decade or longer to find Alin. Friendships with men is something I have no idea how to do any longer. I have a few people I know. If pressed, I would not call them buddies, pals, comrades, or friends. I am not sure what they are. People that call sometimes and ask to hang out for a meal or beer. Others interested in meeting Alin like in Vietnam. Are those people friends? I think of all the people there, there are Vietnamese people I feel more akin to than all the expats with a few exceptions in Hanoi. Here in Cambodia, I don’t do friendships. I have a person with my name I meet every so often I have known for about 5 years. We drink sometimes and meet for food. I don’t think he is a friend.
What the F is a friend? I have no idea. I have Alin. I have my daughter. Life is full it feels like sometimes without expats knocking at the door. I particularly dislike western expats and try to stay away from them at all costs.
Anyways, just consider it if you are getting older. Perhaps a thing that falls away is the ease of making friendships. Relationships with women seemed impossible until lately but the whole thing with Alin is different because both of us were alone and wanting and she wished to have the person fill her heart. No one did until I came along. I felt more of this but it seems hidden under the years.
So that is moving to the beat of life. Of people. Of those few people I find room in my heart to care about. I think they know who they are. No need to pass around names.
Stories sadly told
I went out this morning with Alin to get her new glasses. She has not been able to afford to get a few things done and this was one of the last things. We went to an optical shop and she had an eye exam and picked out glasses for regular wear. They cost about half of what similar glasses cost in the US and Mexico. I also found out I can bring my prescription in from Merida Mexico and they will fill it. I can get new glasses with a two week wait and pick out new frames and get new lens too. This was what happened before and I had left after sending Alin and her Khmer friend to the market.
I decided to stop at some coffee shop and get an iced latte. Easy thing in Siem Reap to find. There as I was sitting and watching tourists walk by, I met this disabled American veteran who had his money stolen at a dinner last night and then could not get a western union picked up because his passport was at the passport agency. So, it was a damned if you do and don’t kinda thing. He has PTSD from time in the US armed forces so stress does not work well with him. I felt for him deeply. I have not had the same thing happen but living here in Asia for years, had similar things. I walked over and asked him if he needed some help and he joined me at the coffee shop table and told me his story. He had no money to buy food. Does not drink any more since it messed with him too much and just wants to now leave Cambodia because he feels the entire place conspires against him and the people employ a double standard dealing with him and Khmer. The main thing was he had no money and could not get the money in a western union telegram. I gave him $50 in Riel so he could have some food and then work on getting his passport back. He offered to pay me back or give me his contact information. I told him no. I was honored to help a US veteran and I understood why he would feel that way about Asia having all his money stolen from his backpack by Khmer people. Alin listened and said she could have helped him get his money if I had my passport. There is always a way to do things here especially if you have a Khmer person willing to help.
Instead he walked over to the market to buy some food to get through a few days until his passport comes back and he can pick up the money his dad sent him. I was very impressed with him leaving the US and deciding the world was the place he would look to find himself. It takes courage to face a world the way it is now with something like PTSD. More than that decide to go. To find a place to live where he could thrive on his money each month.
In a week he will go to London and then fly to Buenos Aires. His life awaits him. I told him he would find happiness on his road and he thanked me, shook my hand with a firm handshake and walked to the market.
Sometimes I figure there are sad stories with happy endings and perhaps his will become good when leaves Asia. Some people are not meant to be here but they are meant to find their way in the world. The United States is not fit for anyone to live in on fixed income or retired or both. It has changed so much and become so little.
Today evolves though…
I left the coffee shop after wanting to use ABA Pay but the barista had no ABA. She took a larger riel note to a money exchanger and came back laughing and gave me the change after deducting 5000 riel for a coffee. Even that struck me as funny here.
I decided today to take a day off from walking and do some bit of writing here. Maybe find words that shape my day today. Many good things happened. Alin got her glasses. She and I will go to a wedding tomorrow night. Maybe we will go to Angkor Wat again for an afternoon tomorrow to see 3 or 4 smaller temples. I met a person in need that is an American veteran. I helped him.
Then I walked on home and told Alin the story. She felt for the person too and I told her I gave him $50 and she understood. Now I sit in the room and walk through today a bit to write this blogpost. All the little in and out things which first make their way to my journal and then percolate on to the blog.
This is Mikes Thoughts after all. The place where thoughts, words and deeds become digital detritus. Perhaps you read here too. You find a nugget of a thing or not. I don’t really care. None of the words are for you. They are my words. Like the old saying,
that’s my story and I’m stuck with it
But there is always a chance to rise above. For us it took decades. For the American with no money and feeling anger, only minutes. Some stories indeed start sad but they can end on a positive note or even happily.
Why don’t you fucking blog? Tell me your story and link to mine. Create the words that line your life and it all starts on a thing you own.