Enjoying moments in Siem Reap
I met this wonderful Khmer man at coffee yesterday. We had a chance to talk about our families and Cambodian culture and living here in the city. Particularly about our daughters. Never could two children be so different. His daughter is in school in New York in a 100% scholarship. My daughter has no inclinations for school and is happy with a job she struggled to get but now loves. One is very focused on the quality of her life and securing advancement. My daughter wants the day to day with her boyfriend. So how the two compare and are different was fun.
Our other main topic was just living. He cannot work any longer due to health conditions but Cambodia makes it difficult for people stricken. He has a wonderful Khmer woman that is his lover and friend. Not married but lovers in all that matter. She will come to get him because he no longer drives but can walk kilometers a day. She was a beautiful spirit with him and her eyes shone looking at him.
I told him about 22 years working in IT and how destructive it was to everything from health to probably a frail marriage and the downfall or rebirth years ago and then just leaving when I retired. He was interested in how painful Silicon Valley was to work in, how it destroyed person in favor of the goal. Since I was a Program Manager then, I got that a lot. Probably why I am rabidly against timelines, schedules, goals, responsibilities now. We talked through that and we both came away with new understandings and feelings about how how terrible IT can be.
Most of all the discussion with a man with a wonderful command of explanation perhaps made our coffee and breakfast so enjoyable. Then his friend showed up and his eyes also lit up, he smiled and said,
my lover and friend
And the circle was closed here. He had come for coffee and spent priceless moments with no end zone or limits on questions or answers. He loved that I enjoyed my home here. My little street with the warm neighbors and restaurants, shops, and people that will wave and say good morning and always ask after me. He felt this one little stretch of street grabbed all that was good in Siem Reap and reflected it back.
And that is how I enjoyed moments in Siem Reap as I shared his breakfast table, his thoughts, and met the woman that lit his life up.
I got in last night after a nice flight from Vietnam. It takes about an hour to fly from Saigon to Siem Reap. The airport here is nice. It’s smaller and easy to navigate. Customs is fast here. Saigon could learn some things. For me having a retirement visa, I bypass the visa lines and go straight to a customs officer. He takes a photo and some finger prints and lets me go. I had no checked luggage so found my tuktuk that K arranged for me and got back.
We went out to eat and then drank some at a few places. Kind of the thing to do I guess when I get back. Now the morning is about some room coffee and soon a shower. Gonna go for a walk later today, buy some fruit. Enjoying just being home.
My flight was full of a package tour from Turkey last night. I did not see any other people besides folks coming to tour around Siem Reap for a few days. They had some tour manager take care of the visa forms and customs declarations for everyone but people still had to queue up and get each passport stamped for entry. They were in before me but I left way before they even got done.
So gonna pick up on the day to day here with blog posts and photos of my walks, places I go see, and perhaps people that come my way. Siem Reap is a pretty town to me. It is big enough I can just walk and find new streets and alleys or side streets to explore. Very nice!
Anyways, I think that’s all the news that this blog post can hold. Home and loving it. It is nice realizing while I love Vietnam that home is just an hour away and I can get here so easily flying. Bye for now. I got nothing to do besides Apple Music and reading some mastodon tootage.
Back to Home
Last night chatted with a few friends in Siem Reap about coming home. She was quite excited I think for me coming back and the gifts I am bringing for her. I’d be a liar if I said I did not love buying her things that make her happy. Today I haul back some perfume made in Vietnam for her. Stuff normally she would never be able to get or perhaps afford.
Other retired expat friends want to meet up for breakfast, hear about my days visiting Vietnam. One friend in particular D spent about 15 years working in Vietnam and knows many of the same places I do. We will meet maybe tomorrow at the usual breakfast place. Namely Viva. Where the eggs are cheap and the talk is plentiful.
They’ve told me that Siem Reap is really going now since it is tourist high season and lots of new people are arriving for their few day visits. Most of them do not go to the places I go even though they are right off Pub Street or in the neighborhood of old market and downtown. Like my regular coffee shop is right there but Noi is hardly ever visited by tourists. Their menus are in English and the staff is very nice and friendly. Prices are much lower than going to a more touristy place. Some folks do not understand the “no food” thing but coffee shops in Vietnam do not serve food either. You just bring in what you want.
Anyways, it is morning in my wonderful king suite after about 10 hours of sleep and a few too many beers. I decided to blast through the Vietnamese currency I have left so ordered room service last night and had a few beers and actually watched news on TV. I could not last at the news. I have been away from TV for so long, it means nothing to me. I stopped watching American football years ago. The news is a foreign thing to me since I use RSS (which I really dislike for some reason) to get news and stuff. RSS is just boring to me. Nothing changes with it. The apps never have wonderful new features or discovery or ways of finding feeds “like” the feed I am reading. What is hard about that I wonder? I dunno. RSS is just dumb news to me but I use it. I have about 60 feeds of stuff I guess. Some I just keep and hardly ever read. Others I occasionally enjoy reading. A few I read often. No way to grade out those into how often they fetch the feeds either. Yeah. I think that’s dumb too.
Anyways, I started thinking about breakfast and will probably take action on the thoughts soon. I am enjoying the king suite and blue skies of Saigon this morning. My last few hours left in Vietnam. Then home. Back to give the perfume and be scolded a bit for how much I spent but told how much she loves it. Back to breakfasts with retiree friends and discussing why the tuktuk across the street that blares the American cowboy music with the driver wearing cowboy boots and hat is a wonderful addition to the scene.
Back to writing about the daily excursions into a wonderful city to live in. Full of kind and warm people and cheap draft beer. Most of all these days she is here. It makes life so much nicer to have a person that sends me cute emojis across time and space.
Finally, just back. Finding the daily momentum and desire to do nothing at all again but just do it all in Cambodia instead. Deliberately not start thinking about going back in April even though my khmer friend C asked me to come to Phnom Penh in March. Back to no planning, no doing. Just like Jeff this wonderful meditation instructor would say.
Yes sir. Got it.
Transition here to there
And then a nice room at the Ibis Saigon airport hotel in which I will eat, drink, and do nothing for most of the day. Maybe visit the skybar and gaze not so lovingly at Saigon. I never did like the city and when I lived there could not wait to leave. This stay gives me one night and then tomorrow I fly to home to Siem Reap.
I will have spent my 30 day evisa the way I could but not the way I wanted. I would have loved taking 90 days here and traveled more in Vietnam. I don’t like rushing through or staying less time in places like Hanoi or not making it to Da Nang at my leisure. Perhaps in April will return and fly from Phnom Penh to Da Nang and then mess around there and in Hoi An and ride the train to Hue and then to Hanoi and stay a week or so. Notice I bypass Saigon completely. Yeah. That would be the goal.
Writing also transitions
I will also start writing again about Siem Reap days and what I do there using that tag. Like most of the things I write, it can be daily but often is less even though I do walk every day rain or shine. I also would like to write a bit about retirement and why people should do the things they love or want and leave the US behind. The US is not healthy for old people and we deserve to have fun and interesting lives. There is a transition there too I would like to write on. Perhaps the experiment of one for me but there are others as well I have met that have left behind the trials and hatreds and other divisive stuff and took up new lives in places where they can be appreciated and find the two things that make up life to me now,
joy and happiness
Is that not the chief goal of life?
So writing will change and I think I will use this little canvas to write more on how to take life and twist it around and make it less and better. Case in point, I left years ago with nothing. Including no debt. I still have no debt and I have no cars, RVs, trailers, homes, property. No fucking stuff. Stuff is horrible. Things are the same. We really need relatively few things in life but we think we need more. So more on that as well.
Finally writing transitions from now in Hanoi to Saigon and points in-between. Perhaps a longer blog post and maybe a photo by end of the day when this is fit to print.
On to Saigon
I think maybe for the so many times vietjet was on time. I got to Saigon and found that my king suite room was on the top floor. Beautiful place! Fitting end to a month. Had some wondrous moments. They all translate to memories and leave me with experiences.
My last days always take me away to the places and people and things done. First in Saigon seeing Tom for pizza at this place that tried to give us two pizzas. Then burgers and beers with lily. Saigon was a nothing for me. Three days of wanting to leave. I’m thankful within those moments to see my wonderful Vietnamese friends there.
My friend David taking me for tacos and then we stay and drink until the place closes. Then we go to a pizza place with over 30 craft beers on tap. Oh my.
Over to Vs home for a wondrous Vietnamese feast cooked by her and her mom. Then cooking at Paul ans boss house one day. Classic Vietnamese Tet food consumed. Burgers a few times with different people. Coffee all over and I tried to mix it up and go to new and old.
Finally just the walks. The going. Finding and feeling and taking photos. Talking photos here’s my photo gallery for my month. Hope you enjoy. Each one is special and I hardly ever delete photos.
Now back home tomorrow. I’ll be glad to be back but I am already thinking of going again. In April. No Saigon. This next time if I go it will be visiting Phnom Penh first to see some Khmer friends for a few days and then flying to Da Nang. After to Hoi An and Hue. Then the train to Hanoi.
More moments to come. As they say in the Khmer language,
Thank you. Hope you enjoyed my month. I sure as F did.
Lets go to the last day
So today I guess is my last day in Hanoi but I have one more day left in Saigon. Tomorrow morning I fly from Hanoi to Saigon and spend the night at the Ibis Saigon Airport Hotel. A really nice place which is about 1500 feet from the airport. There are some nice fixtures at the hotel and for my last I decided I wanted them all. I’ll probably eat at one of their restaurants and drink a little at the skybar and watch even the Saigon airport go nuts.
But today! Today was all about getting up earlier to get laundry done and hanging on the line to dry. I picked today because it will be the warmest of the last few. I’ll return home with not so many dirty clothes which is nice. The washing machine is temperamental here and takes whatever time it wishes to take. It is made in Japan but precision and attention to detaill are not the machine’s highlights. What it does do is an acceptable job at getting clothes clean.
Later this morning one of my housemates and I will see if we can eat some breakfast out and then in the afternoon, V will come over to take us out for milk tea or coffee by the house. I will also want to get a last walk in at West Lake in some direction. The actual place matters little. What matters is the going.
In some ways hard to believe my 30 days is up but in others, there are some things waiting either patiently or not so in Siem Reap. I have this other person in my life which wants me back. She has grown less patient as the days have gone by. Last night she told me,
I have waited long for you
Not many people tell me that but I feel her pain so I will get back and have to take her out someplace really nice for dinner. She does not ask ever for nicer places but after being gone a month I think we should take some time, hold some hands, talk some talk. I want to see that mysterious Khmer smile again, those flashing eyes which at the same time seem soulful and sad and almost erotic. I get lost in eyes here and in Cambodia. Truly windows to what we are deep inside. Have you noticed with face masks on when a person smiles, the eyes crinkle up?
I have a photo album full of two places to share tomorrow. My adventures in Saigon and Hanoi for a month. I will also start posting again to my daily Siem Reap tag because there is lots to capture there too but more of my daily walks, sights, people, places.
So the last day in Hanoi comes yet again. I’ve been asked to come back in April for another turn at Vietnam. I won’t be doing Saigon again. This time I hope to start in Da Nang and see Hoi An and Hue and then ride the train north to Hanoi. I’ll just make the flights work to fly into Da Nang and then back to Phnom Penh from Hanoi. I can do whatever the F I want. I’m adulting here :-)
So I’ll stop the wordly aberrations and get on with sending this over to Dropbox. Did I mention that Blot rules for blogging? You want a photo at the end? Yeah? Ok. Here ya go.
That was yesterday wandering around after I went for coffee at this other lake. Did I mention that Hanoi has lots of lakes and most have wonderful walking around them with cafes, pubs, restaurants for enjoyment? Yep!
Take care all.
Leaving it alone
I felt compelled perhaps to mention a toot I made on mastodon. For decades I did live concerts, big gatherings for things. Parties. People. I don’t do those any longer. I have never been a people person so the change became a thing with covid to me. I was thinking on it this morning after the new years eve celebrations here in Hanoi. I don’t do crowds. Ever. I will not attend a live concert or show. A political event. A car race, horse race, or just a bunch of people doing whatever bunches of people do.
People can say the pandemic is over, the countries are open but those two are not the same to me. The pandemic is not over and to me it is up to us to raise our awareness and protect ourselves. If it means gathering go by the wayside so be it. I will never do a live concert again. Attend a big social event. Last night was just the continuation of my desire to not put myself at risk yet again. Flying and crowded air terminals I deal with by sitting alone and masking up. I don’t feel that is safe but I will not give up everything. What I do decide to not do are the things I look at and feel they are a risk. Hundreds of people packed into a small place or a large venue seems like an invitation for a super spreading event to just happen. Not the fault of any one person. I just won’t drive that car or be in it.
So when one of the airbnb housemates asks today if I had a good time by not going I will say,
good? no. Safer yes. And I did what I personally believe in.
I cannot just go back and pretend like it is all okay. It is not okay. You can make it so in your life and times. That’s your business. Covid is real and people get sick still. I can take a small step and limit one thing.
I don’t like it. This is a thing I can do though like it or not. This is what I said on Mastodon. You have your life in your hands. Like the old song my dad used to sing, you have the whole world in your hands. Just make choices you can live with.