Wednesday, January 28, 2015

TRAVEL TALES #1

The spacious room on the top floor was dimly lit by mild rays of sun peeking through the windows overlooking the french balcony. Away from the doubtlessly scorching midday sun and with wafts of the cool air conditioning drifting down on where I lay in the top bunk, I thankfully burrowed further among the comfy fluffy sheets in the huge cozy bed. The time on my phone showed that it was 1.35pm in Phnom Penh. 

Faint sounds floated up from the streets. Local hawkers peddling their offerings of spring rolls or local Cambodian coffee sweetened with condensed milk and poured over crushed ice for 50 cents a pop from their push carts. Tuk-tuk drivers accosting tourists " You go killing fields? You go Royal Palace? I take you, I give good price! "

For now, I was the lone occupant of the huge dormitory with a 20-person capacity. My only pleasant ponder was how much longer I would be lying in. I had already visited the killing fields, S-21 prison, national museum, a couple of temples, local markets, walked along the Tonle Sap, and eaten my fill of Cambodian street food so I was in no hurry to go anywhere or do anything.

As I lay mulling over what I should do with my day, the sound of someone entering the room drew my attention. 

A boy around my age traipsed in, looking worn and heavily hauling his backpack as though the weight of the world was on him. He came to a stop at the bed below mine. I peeked over the edge and he glimpsed me gazing down at him. He introduced himself as Ryan and was Canadian.

" You been here long? " He queried with a tired smile.
" I've been here three days. I leave tomorrow. " I answered.
" Is this hostel peaceful? I just arrived from Sihanoukville and things were pretty crazy there. " He informed.

From what I'd heard of the beach town of Sihanoukville, it was less chaotic than Siem Reap or Phnom Penh.

" How is Sihanoukville crazy? Most people go there to chill, don't they? "
" Yeah, but I was working at a bar in exchange for free accommodation and alcohol. It was fun for a few days but after one month of there I needed to get away and have a break. Staying up late every day drinking and partying is rough. "

***
As I was getting ready to go out later that afternoon, he was slumbering quietly in bed.

I'm pretty sure I will work abroad one day. Probably not in a bar and neither for the pursuits of booze or parties, but for the culture and experience. 

Sunday, January 18, 2015

CHINKS IN THE ARMOUR

Cold sweat. Pounding headache. Aching joints. Churning nausea. Tasting bile. Lightheaded dizziness. Feverish fatigue.

My immune system used to be inpenetrable, invincible.

Goes to show even the hardest steeliest armour has its chinks.

Monday, January 12, 2015

GRIEVE A STRANGER

Growing up, he was never present. Others nostalgically tell of how their grandparents spoiled them silly, cuddling and nuzzling as though they were little cubs. Not so with us ; we never received any gesture of affection or words of warmth. All we ever knew was his icy penetrating glare as he sat in disapproving silence. 

(I am not saying this in a negative tone, or with any ill feelings nor resentment. I am merely and simply depicting it like it was.)

***
With his near impending departure, the rules and norms of society state that I should be deeply distressed. After all, Asian culture holds filial piety in the highest esteem. I should droop my shoulders, sorrowfully hang my head, go about moping sorry and downcast to reflect the weight of this situation. My eyes should be vacant and heavily brimmed with tears.

Not at all.

My head is defiantly held up high above my shoulders. My gaze remains strong and steady. I go about my days brightly and unperturbed. My careless laughter resounds, my conversation is carefree, my demeanor is happy and laissez faire. I toss my head, flash a sunshiny smile to the doorman, step with a gaily bounce.

I feel not the slightest tinge of sadness nor one tiny fragment of anguish. I am not remorseful for this. I do not think I am wrong not to be aggrieved. 

I must say that I am rather amazed at my impertinence.
If it is of any consolation, I think it is sad that I am not sad.

But how do you grieve a stranger? Someone you never knew?




Thursday, January 8, 2015

CURSED

   " Congratulations! Your article has been published. "

Automatically, I click and read. I pore for ages, squirm with discomfort every time I inevitably come across some wretched error which somehow managed to dodge my editing eye. However slight, they make me ball my fists in frustration at my own carelessness and lack of flair. My words read clumsily, the sentences appear disjointed. 

   " That was such a great read. Well done! " 

Others warmly gush. I have no doubt of their sincerity, but the words ring hollow to me. Astonishingly, they do not even seem aware of the flaws which I see in all their glaring magnitude.

However 'good' I was deemed, I am never good enough.

I could have done better. I could always have done better.