Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Monkey Island Dreams

Things Cambodia is good at: Having a lot of national holidays. For some reason I'm still unclear about, there was no work Friday and I took advantage of a long weekend traveling with three friends to Sihanoukville and Koh Rong, an island three hours away. Koh Rong was literally so beautiful that of the four of us, only three came back. And who can blame my friend for wanting to stay a bit longer on a deserted tropical island with white sand beaches? Without me there constantly making LOST references?

Sihanoukville wasn't too exciting, crowded beaches filled with people hawking trinkets and snacks (including grilled squid), too crowded for my tastes. We had fun though, but were sad we hadn't chosen to spend the whole weekend at Koh Rong the moment we docked on the island.

Everything about that island was excellent, from dinner (squid and barracuda curry, see previous post for pictures) to swimming late at night under the moon. I was only too sad to board the boat back and start the journey to Phnom Penh.

But back to Phnom Penh I went, back to work and cries of 'tuk tuk lady?' and all the wonderful things that come with living in the city as well. Tonight the office is screening a movie about poverty, and walking down the street I'm overwhelmed with evidence of prostitution and child beggars, and I miss the bliss of an island where you can ignore (for however brief) everything wrong and live a little luxury before the guilt sets in.

Not to guilt you either, or make things sound bad. My life in Phnom Penh really is lovely, and I'm having an amazing time in Cambodia, but empty pristine beaches and dirty city streets form quite the contrast. Still, it was nice to settle in, buy a pineapple from my favorite vendor, and curl up on the couch with a good book (Amerika by Kafka at the moment).

In short, what a lovely detour for a weekend. Some days I can't quite process that I live a bus and a boat ride away from spending the night in a bungalow on the beach. Then again, some days I can't quite process I'm lucky enough to live in Cambodia let alone vacation.