July ends

Another month sees fit to end for me. I went back and looked at some needs I have when I hit California for a few days. I hope to see my friend Sean on one of my three days but he has to come up from Santa Cruz so we will see. Also need the last booster shot. Found a few little things I want so I will probably get them.

The main thing is seeing my daughter I think and having a few American breakfast meals which I always miss. I will have something to pick up at the Amazon hub counter which is a handy way of getting stuff delivered. The nearest hub counter from my hotel is about a mile so I think a few small things there to get.

Finally there is 9 September and my sayonara song for the US. I’m reaching the point of wanting that long haul flight and the lay over for two hours in Korea. All told its 12 hours to Korea and then 5 to Phnom Penh. I will get in on 10 September at 1130pm so figure an hour to get the visa on arrival and get a taxi from the airport to downtown by the river. I decided to get this handy dandy e-sim for both the US and Cambodia so I have data when I get to both. Each place has a week plan for cheap. Once I get settled in Phnom Penh, easy matter to go to a Smart Store and get a monthly prepaid plan. Then I can top up the card from any store or even online. I have three weeks in Phnom Penh to do whatever it is I will do. Probably I will visit a few places I have not been in some years there. See a friend that owns a camera store. Try to find my friend AV.

But all that is after July and August ends folks. Now it is the last day of July and it is a Sunday. That means I take a nice walk to Starbucks later this morning and have my Sunday with grilled cheese and a cold brew coffee and then a longer walk back home. Kinda want to walk earlier so I miss the afternoon rain showers that seem to show up at 3pm or so each day.

Thinking Back

I happened to think back on last year. Perhaps it was July or so or August. I hopped the Amtrak California Zephyr train going east from Emeryville to its terminus in Chicago and spent days along the way at different stops. I bought the USA RailPass for this. Then I turned around and rode back to Los Angeles with a few stops in Albuquerque and Flagstaff. I spent a week in Albuquerque and a day and some in Flagstaff. Here’s a little going east. I posted different pictures on Mastodon :-). The trip east captured me easily and is probably worth a different blog post explaining the stops along the way. I’ll write something on that soon I think.

I do want to say riding the rails let me capture these moments that sometimes need no explanation. They are the view of a meandering rail voyage which seemed to always just move at my speed.

The travels are idyllic to say the least. Sitting in the observation car also let me find the scenes that make it the way. I also met people. Some interesting people going east. More on that later too.

Someone asked me once how to just go. Well, the answer is to just go. Don’t worry about arriving. That will take care of itself. For me, the main course has been going. Amtrak serves that up well for me.

But…

I’m done with Amtrak. I did two years of train travels. In 2020 across the US in almost both directions and then this 2021. I’ll leave you with a sunset from the train in 2020. Somewhere in New York State. Riding the rails. Hoboing the places and finding the vagabond always wanting to just go.

Bye bye for now.

Friday Thunder and maybe rain

It seems like it could rain today but as of yet, no drops have fallen. I’d like to get out and walk and then find things to take photos of because it is what I like doing. It does not have to be some astounding thing and it’s better if not because the world is not made of big things for me. I can find sunsets and architecture but I look more for the flowers dancing down the wall in almost a careless abandon.

Not taken today but it really frames the things I enjoy most about the going out and walking. There’s time enough for bridges and sunsets and dramatic scenes. What I do believe is our world is made instead of smaller things. Competing textures of flower and wall that both hold us back and make us go forward. There is a basic beauty to how these beautiful flowers and their texture touch the more granular texture of the wall. Each have compelling facets and features to touch, embrace, and feel.

So when I go out later today, I also go looking for the small things which make the world seem a little different. Not the big differences because we find those easily most often. The small things offer a view into a world of sights, sounds, flavors and textures.

Soon rain

I think it will rain this afternoon just maybe. Then the world freshens up too. Thunder in the distance but the skies are not totally dark. By 6pm I will go out. I’ll find things to take and share and perhaps look back on and be so glad I saved them. In truth, I never delete photos. All of them, even the mistakes, I save. I have unlimited storage on Smugmug so why delete a photo ever? I may come back to it in months because I remembered something or forgot and was just looking at the photo stream.

Now I can hear the wind picking up and the rain is gonna fall soon. The little flower probably dances in the wind and rain. The scene changes by the moment. Just like my perception of it. I’m thankful to the iPhone for always being ready to keep my moments. It has been all I need for years. The digital cameras came and went and most often went. I grew tired of their demands and limitations. Batteries and SD cards and chargers and apps to download the photos or cables. Instead, the iPhone became the instrument of my pleasure and desire.

Now with the rain I can stop for a moment and consider my walking. My dinner later hopefully after it rains but I also have food in my room to eat.

Friday moves on and I think the weather has changed. The sky darkens and the wind goes. The thunder talks.

Happy Friday you all. Find a moment to see the little things.

The little house down the street

I happened to find this house down the street. I really loved the shape of the little house but then there was the big cactus in front. Suddenly I wanted both of them.

Image.jpeg

Living awhile in Cambodia

Cambodia living is a day to day expression for me in both Phnom Penh and Siem Reap. I’ll be blogging and writing my daily experiences as well as posting photographs on both. The photographs and commentary will be here and on Mastodon.

Somewhere Cambodia
Somewhere Cambodia

Phnom Penh

From 10 September to 1 October 2022 I will be living in Phnom Penh Cambodia to get a retirement visa extension but also to just come back to my sometime home. I have Khmer and expat friends in both Phnom Penh and Siem Reap so I hopefully will get to see them starting September.

Phnom Penh has been my sometime home for some years. I enjoy the city quite a bit. Walking along the riverside in the evening can be very nice. Phnom Penh is located where two rivers meet. The Tonle Sap and Mekong rivers coalesce here and the Tonle Sap will change directions and usually there are cool boat races and shows when that happens. The Mekong just flows through it all.

map of phnom penh
map of phnom penh

This blogpost gives you the basics and gives you an idea what the city looks like; but then there will be regular posts on the day to day, thoughts on getting back, and other thoughts. Because I always have other thoughts.

Daily Life in Phnom Penh

Central Market is the one place I go to find everything I could want. You can see the distinctive dome of the Central Market below.

Central Market
Central Market

The Russian Market has some other name but I like that name and some maps still show it. Food and a lot of nice rip off north face bags and stuff can be found but the neighborhood around the market is key. Small bars, coffee shops, restaurants.

Wandering around the city always gives interesting sights and sounds of tuktuks going, motorbikes dancing the streets, and beautiful architecture. It all combines into a hectic and busy and sometimes unique view of the city. It all makes daily life so much better.

Phnom Penh
Phnom Penh

Day to day most people will spend some time walking the river walk area. The walk takes you through many park areas and a lot of people out doing the same. I like to do the walk in the mornings and evenings and try to end up at a bar for sunset and the obligatory draft Angkor Beer and perhaps some food.

Riverwalk Area
Riverwalk Area

Living daily in Phnom Penh is not much of an exercise. What I have found is that all the services, food, and shopping are easily available. Laundry is usually done in the neighborhood where the service is paid for next day delivery by the kg. Shopping is best at local stores or shops which are on each corner but it is easy to find 7/11, Circle K or other convenience stores. There are also at least two larger malls where a variety of stores are anchored. Aeon Mall 1 is downtown and 2 is farther outside the city. There is also a very nice mall close to Central Market. I’ve enjoyed the food, coffee and AC there many times. In the evenings, the night market can be fun to visit and there are lots of street food stalls along the riverside. Many riverside bars offer tables to watch the sunset.

I think after staying in the city a number of times, a person can be selective with the neighborhood. What I like you may not but in the city, I want access to shopping, restaurants, and the riverside area. One of my favorite stays was at an Airbnb very close to the Palace and Museum. I could walk down to a few favorite restaurants and pubs easily. Other neighborhoods are busier. This area by the independence monument and the Vietnamese-Cambodian Friendship monument gets busy in the evenings. I have stayed there before but it’s a little too busy with cars, motorbikes and buses.

Close to Independence Monument
Close to Independence Monument

One thing to always bear in mind anywhere is safety of your personal stuff. I never carry a passport, wallet, credit or debit cards anywhere. These are cash economies and Cambodia uses the US dollar. Find a cheap every day carry bag and secure your phone, some US dollars to get through some days, and get a copy of your passport and visa on your phone. Done deal.

Siem Reap Cambodia

After 1 October, I’ll be moving to Siem Reap to live long term or longer term. This will be a day to day thing for me for some months so I’ll be first staying in an Airbnb and then finding an apartment to live in.

City of Siem Reap
City of Siem Reap

Siem Reap is much smaller than Phnom Penh but has a very nice social life. I know a few retiree expats that live there so I get to go back and find them, drink some beverages and catch up. Finding apartments to live in the city is pretty simple.

Around Siem Reap
Around Siem Reap

I already have a realty agent who will be meeting me after October 1 and taking me around in a tuktuk to see some places.

I will also most likely tour Angkor Wat again too. Because I can never get enough of these wonderful remains. So unique and significant, mysterious and beautiful. A tuktuk tour for a few days comes to mind in the winter when it is cooler.

Angkor Wat Archeological Site Complex
Angkor Wat Archeological Site Complex

Getting around in the Kingdom of Wonder

I’ll be also posting an update on some other places I will be visiting once I get settled in Siem Reap. Most of the travel around Cambodia is easiest in a bus. There are websites that make it easy to do this. One of my favorites is 12go. This is a meta travel site much like rome2rio but with no booking.com crap. One of the better bus services is Giant Ibis. Another booking service is BookMeBus. I use this site to get airport transit or I just hop a tuktuk and pay the fees with a little good natured haggling.

To get around cities or book tuktuk services, PassApp or Grab work well. Or just stop some tuktuk that is empty. Show the driver where you want to go on Google Maps and he’ll quote some price. It used to be $5 for anywhere. I bet it is different now. Much better to use a service that tells me up front what the cost is and the route. If you have not ridden a tuktuk maybe you actually did if you were in India. They look a little different but basically the same except for the larger tuktuks which can seat 4 people or two drunk expats.

Finishing up and writing about it

All of this becomes the daily expression on the blog and on my Mastodon instance. I post the blog posts to Mastodon often and tend to write on both daily. You can also expect some kind of Substack newsletter. I have been playing with the doing of it for awhile and what I’d write there. I think micropublishing is something I wanna try out.

Letters from Vietnam

I have this dear friend P that lives in Vietnam. P is married to a Vietnamese woman with two children from a previous marriage. They have been together for years. His wife is totally dedicated to P and has this wonderful outlook on life with P. They walk together around Hanoi, take the kids to parks and playgrounds, and socialize like most Vietnamese do at coffee shops and cafes in their neighborhood.

P tells me stories about his day to day living in Hanoi quite often. The little things are big. Like meeting this older Vietnamese man who gave him a hat to wear at a local coffee shop. Now P wears the hat every day just in case he sees the man over coffee or beers. He has not yet.

At the same coffee shop P met a wonderful and engaging Vietnamese woman that talked with him about America, asked questions about this life in Vietnam, and invited P and his wife to dinner. P’s wife is a chef and does food and market tours in Hanoi plus teaching cooking. They both felt so wonderful a vibe from the woman.

It is easy to remember back to my last years living in Vietnam and how many of these letters and messages I got. The kids running up and wanting pictures taken, young people stopping me and asking about life in America, old people gently discussing with google translate my life there in Vietnam then.

Letters that never end from a country that seems to always offer yet another thing around a corner, down a block. This is one of the reasons I decided to start a SubStack newsletter plus blog about what I see as I go back. Each one offers some kind of memory mechanism. But more than memories, each one gives me this mechanism to write and create new stories about my forever going. Visiting and finding the people. But just visiting.

The truth is I cannot just live in Vietnam. That’s probably the one thing that stings but I also realize that I am a wanderer and vagabond and living somewhere will never satisfy me. So I will publish these letters, these thoughts, the stories here and when I get going on SubStack. I’ve created a backlog of things I want to publish on the blog. Ideas about the places I can go both in Asia and in 2023. I see the outlines somewhat vague now of going after a year spent finding Asia. Visiting Malaysia and Singapore. Laos and Vietnam. Finding my way in Cambodia again to so many places and finding old friends.

I miss those places and in 40 some days I’ll renew the acquaintance. To say I am getting anxious about leaving is an understatement. I wrote in my Day One I am done here. There is nothing more to get or give. I want to go back and see my daughter again because my sensation is this time is it for me. There is no coming back to the US this time. There is nothing for me in the US. No one or many things that hold or endear me to the country. It is just another place I spent time, worked for decades, divorced and then found my way out of.

I was very taken with P’s simple language and his stories. He has many of just living in Vietnam. Sometimes over beers(s) we get to them because each one brings out a memory or we remember time spent together in Hanoi at some restaurant or coffee shop or maybe at his house eating wonderful foods from Vietnam and elsewhere.

Stories to tell. Letters to write. Places to go.

Just around the corner! Most of all thanks P for the words and love from the family. I have so many Vietnamese moms. I am blessed many times over.

SubStack and blogging

I’ve had this on and off again thing about SubStack publishing. What I have wanted is to write with a few patterns. The blogging is my primary method for creating content, sharing, writing and having fun with the day to day words.

SubStack was going to be about more targeted things but I came to question that approach so I deleted the account. Twice. What I’ve come to realize is I want to tell this story with different media so I am gonna experiment with writing newsletters about specific things. One of the first will be a newsletter on my travels to Cambodia I think or perhaps the upcoming travels back to Vietnam.

I kinda see both give me this outlet to create. The blog always seems primary to just cuss and discuss my steps, the words around them, and tell the story. I enjoy sharing the posts on Mastodon. I think SubStack will be more a story or two at first to get a sense of how I can write and contribute on it. I find that platform to be interesting and provocative as well. The upcoming newsletter will be over here. I don’t really have goals for however many iterations of this thing there is. I just know I feel like writing on it and see where it goes. If you do RSS you can subscribe that way. The newsletters will be a combination of stories and photos and I really like the idea of starting with Vietnam and posting on the blog and SubStack at the same time maybe.

I also decided to kinda pull back a bit from Mastodon and focus more through the next days on writing my blog and also trying to create more on some periodic stories I’ve written. They need to be published. Feeling and feeding that need. I think I will still post photos but the day to day thoughts, feelings, diatribes will be here. I’ll figure out what exact stories I publish on SubStack as I go.

No matter what, I think it is gonna be fun to create on both. Maybe Substack can be the home of my Going West stories. I have many of those that have largely been unpublished since my Ghost blog days and even when I kinda sorta published them on Obsidian Publish.

So there ya go. Some new things, refactoring old written things. And 40 days left in Mexico. I don’t do timelines or tasks or milestones. I just know what I want. Now I want to write a newsletter of crap and a blog with more crap.

Welcome to both sorta kinda :-).

Sunlight mornings and stormy evenings

Seems so wonderful the weather these days in Merida. I went out yesterday in the morning for some groceries. WalMart Express which is a smaller incarnation of the store is across the street and I really like their fresh fruits and bakery items. Down the street is a Super called Soriana in the mall I visit often. The food there is different but I like some of the fruit better. Right now as it happens, Dragon Fruit are in season so there are people selling them all over. I hope to see this young guy down the street selling them again.

and then…

The weather turns. By mid afternoon, say at 3pm, the clouds roll in and the storm starts. Yesterday from about 3pm to 7pm we had the weather so I listened to audiobooks, wrote a bit, wandered around on the web. By 630 or so with dusk approaching it got better so I headed out because I need to walk every day so I feel good. I had some things to think on as well and movement seems to always ease the process for me.

Anyways there were big puddles but I could find no really cool reflections to take photos of. In my neighborhood are all these streets arranged almost in a grid pattern where one walk in a direction and see the odd and even number streets sometimes in completely random order. Like I find a Calle 30 and then next to it is Calle 10 or something. Confusing? Well it helps to have google maps which is what just about everyone here uses. This happens most every day to me and I always laugh when one street has three different road signs with different numbers.

But now it is today and its simply gorgeous out. Today I do the laundry thing. Down the street a few blocks is my local lavanderia. I pay about $3 for next day service but I always tip them. My clothes come back clean and fresh the next day. Then after that perhaps tacos down the street or I will do something else. I like sitting in the mall but you probably know that already. It is an easy place to go sit and accomplish nothing.

Anyways, that is my day and some reflection on weather, streets, and wandering here.

meeting the times

I decided today to spend a bit of time with some audiobooks on YouTube. It’s easy to find so many wonderful books. Short stories, Sherlock Holmes novels, ghost stories. So many great times to just listen to some quality narrators of some classic stories. As an example. Today I queued up The Time Machine by HG Wells. Read by a wonderful story teller the book has always hinted at deeper and darker meanings for our race on time. This traveler finds worlds so worth visiting but captured in words.

These stories are all free and the story tellers often do this for the love of the word.

So I sat marveling at the wonderful way words move us. From a machine taking a man to worlds to Arthur Conan Doyle telling us about the wonder of Holmes.

All of these excursions are free for the searching on YouTube. I sometimes spend hours listening to them. Finding common ground with a Dickens story told fresh.

Today the storms sped up. The rain fell. Lightning and thunder sounded across the city I was safe. Perhaps walking some dark alley with Holmes and Watson on the trail of a mystery.

Wonderful times. Words are power.

she said…

There’s a particularly painful part for me that has been going on for a year now. I’ve had this one person that has put up with me, loved me, drank with me. Told me her secrets. She lives in Can Tho Vietnam. So the distance plus the time has sometimes been painful. She also is not good sometimes with feelings or telling me.

I think the last time I saw her was in Hanoi in 2021 or perhaps my 2020 birthday. Things seemed normal and nice and we held hands and talked over a hotpot. I felt like I would just live in Vietnam. That Hanoi would be home. It sure felt like it.

But as time and events have proven way too many times, never depend on a thing happening or not. Assuredly the opposite will instead occur.

Then there’s today on WhatsApp when she told me she was not sleeping well. And had not been for a month. The distance between us helps little and Vietnamese culture is much different so it has been hard for her to express herself. This combination has proven particularly bad since I sometimes want her to say a thing but she simply cannot on WhatsApp.

So we go back and forth and now my time gets closer to leave Mexico and then the US. Then I move out the time to get back to Vietnam for a few reasons. I need to settle a bit, find a place to live, do the basics in Siem Reap. She gets it. But she really does not. And that hurts.

Having only one person and her being half the world away is not a recipe for either of us to feel happy. So I say things about coming back and she says what she can.

But nothing can be said really. So I write here. Perhaps the words yield some closure but words hardly ever do. So I wait and she does…

And she said,

please come to me

And it’s difficult as hell with what she says.