Monday, October 17, 2011


First off, I'm listening to Swallowed by the Sea by Coldplay as I write, so my verbose message will be rather melancholy.

Well, I went to Cambodia for six lovely and
insightful days. I watched the world go by in a land I'd pinned my thumb on as a child to visit... never did I imagine the fundamental experience the trip would encapsulate until now.

Cambodia... it's exotic, urban and traditional. I arrived at night, and it seemed dark and musty. Then, morning came, and worked its wonders like always. Suddenly, Phnom Penh lost its luridness from the night before... it became France-like, the buildings so bright and colourful, the sky crisp -- and my heart lightened. There was the usual hustle-bustle of city life. Market venders with stalls stacked with fruits, splashed with colour, lined on the road. Bright yellow mangoes, oranges the colour of the setting sun, strawberries, ripe and red, and all other sorts of vegetables. The motorbikes would roar as they sped, and the bells of bikes would ring as cyclists passed our way.

It was on our seven-hour drive to Siem Reap that Cambodia touched my heart... the grass was greener than any I'd seen before -- the hue of the blades all massed into one was the true meaning of green, nothing else compared. And the sky... it was electric blue, with whiffs of cloud dashed across it in swirls and strokes, wide, sweeping and faint but precious. The trees -- they sprouted individually in their own territorial space of green grass, and the flood had run over the land so their reflection were mirrored -- mirrored so beautifully so you could only just differentiate between sky and sea. I fell in love with the view... the palm trees that sprouted its long bladed leaves in clusters, the clouded sky, and of course, the water, as always.

I tried new things -- I let a furry, live tarantula crawl up my arm, its legs tickling the inside of my elbow. Then, I tried a portion of a fried tarantula's leg. Crispy. The village children were so precious... they smiled widely... they lived in this magical place. And they loved it. They swam in their flooded back garden, they walked around topless, some even naked. They ran barefoot in the muddy roads I didn't dare walk. The squealed, leaped, and ran after us. Their childhood was so different from mine, yet beautiful in its own way.

We left the village at sunset. The grass was dark, but not the water or the sky it emulated. Brilliantly streaked yellow-orange from the gaps between the whirls of cloud in the sky, the water held the sap of the sky in its ripples and it couldn't be touched or held with hands, but I did so with my eyes and it stays with me now, the golden sap, in my mind, when I close my eyes, and when they're open. I'll never forget.

Then of course, there was the magical Angkor Wat. Broken, worn and ancient as it is, Angkor Wat is truly a wonder of the world. It's huge, stands majestically in its venerability, a powerful dedication to the Gods that throws its still image across the water, reflected as part of the Earth. It's domes rise pointed and spiraling towards the heavens shapes like the tip of lotus flowers. Everything in the temple was irrevocably connected to nature, to Earth.

Cambodia was magic.

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