Wow! I can’t believe it’s September. I have been absent from here for two whole months. Life is Phnom Penh has been good. I have been concentrating mainly on becoming better at my job. Teaching little kids is definitely an introspective experience in some ways. I have learned new things about me daily for the past four months and at times is has been frustrating, but mainly it has been a rewarding growing process.
I took a trip at the end of July to Battambang, a place that I have been yearning to get to since I arrived in Cambodia. It was a fantastic experience. My friend Danny moved there at the end of May so come July he knew his way around and was an awesome tour guide. We went to four wats around town, the winery and kayaking on the river. We ate at a delicious restaurant that specialized in home-made noodles and dumplings. Battambang really struck a cord in me; it is a place i can see myself spending some time.
I am sad to report that my Khmer has not improved much. This is still an area that I need to focus on. When my sister gets here, I am going to see about taking actual classes I believe.
I have read some great books lately. Cambodia’s Curse by Joel Brinkley is a wonderful read. It is heartbreaking at times, but most Cambodian histories are. He has an insightful connection on how the history of Cambodia has shaped its people from both a societal point of view but also a psychological point of view. I started it and could not put it down until I was finished. My roommates didn’t see me for a week while I was reading this book.
I also read a book about the sex trade in South East Asia. It was another heartbreaking sociological text filled with real life horror stories. At times it is not pleasant to read but I think it is important to read material that makes us uncomfortable with out surrounding environment. It keeps us thinking about it that is the only way people will start acting. I really want to start volunteering somewhere on the weekends. Despite the abundance of NGOs in Cambodia it is still difficult to find a good volunteer position where you really get to interact with people.
I read a biography of Pol Pot that was pretty dry but at times an interesting story. I did learn a lot about Pol Pot and the details of the Khmer Rogue regime.
Right now I am reading a great text by Naomi Kilne entitled Shock Doctorine. It is phenomenal. It is about the rise of disaster capitalism. I am learning new things with every turn of the page. And it is a wonderfully written.
At my hotel in Battambang I traded a pretty bad book for The Horse Whisperer. It’s not great literature, I know, but it is one of my favorite books. I read the entire things on the 6 hour drive back from Battambang.
There have been some other novels as well. The Weight of Numbers was really interesting to read but also confusing. I tried to figure out the plot and character connections via charting it out on paper but I still got pretty much nowhere except the obvious connections. But maybe that’s the point: it’s not the obvious connections that rule our lives sometimes.
I know this is a condensed update but I just wanted to be alive online again. Peace.