Rain pours down on the thin tin roof of the guesthouse.
It’s monsoon season.
Sounds of car horns overpower the sweet singsong voice of the cook as she gracefully repeats verse after verse of a popular Justin Beiber song – pop turned poetic when sang with a Khmer accent.
After days of inactivity I’ve become restless. I’ve fallen into old ways of thinking, finding myself on the defense, cynical and weary.
Upon arriving in Cambodia everything was exciting, overwhelming and intimidating.
But now I’ve got my wheels. I found my freedom by wandering around, learning the streets by referencing a small photocopied map. Navigation becomes more difficult when there are no street signs…
Since the past few weeks have included long holiday breaks, I’ve spent my time until now accountable to no one but myself. Similar to my life at home but with a tad more adventure.
When I look back on this trip, it will serve as a rite of passage. The common, yet adventurous story of a twenty-something woman looking for herself in Southeast Asia. To the onlookers of home I seem like a risk taker. Here I am just one more white lady who needs a tuk tuk.
I half approach this trip with an assured sense of purpose. I have lofty intentions. Get out of my comfort zone, do something meaningful, use my brain.
Yet there is a side of me that yearns to learn more about myself. It’s impossible not to feel personally challenged living in a foreign country that’s known for its rampant corruption, it’s reputation for being the “wild wild east“. Yet it’s inevitable that living here will try my emotions and force me to learn something new about myself.
Since I’ve been traveling I’ve experienced a disregard for many of the shallow consuming thoughts I have back home. There is no blow drying and curling of the hair, there is minimal make-up complimented with a no-fuss travel wardrobe.
And the normal fuss over appearance has been replaced with a “stay focused and don’t get your purse snatched” attitude. I must be acutely aware of my actions. Everywhere I go I question my patronage, I question my impression as a Western visitor and I am constantly wandering whether or not the smallest action on my behalf could be supporting what corrupts this country.
Maybe that’s the point of travel.
When you can’t escape what’s uncomfortable you learn to face what lies beneath the surface.