Cambodia, the Kingdom of Wonder has me in its hot sweaty palms. I’m gripped, hooked, stuck or maybe even seduced by its charm. There are obvious down sides. The poverty, corruption and the rather undemocratic democracy, all of which leave me reeling. The health care is so bad that rich go abroad and the poor go without.
I am not Cambodian, I am barang, a foreigner, and freely admit I have no real understanding of the culture into which I’ve slipped. But my, how this country has me wondering.
Firstly everybody seems so happy. Smiles are freely given with the greeting sok sabay, peace and happiness. Of course Cambodians have their woes, probably disproportionately more so than many other nationalities. Culturally woe not worn the face and if a smile disappears then a line has been crossed.
Also everything works despite nothing appealing to my pedantic sense of logic and order. The traffic system is perhaps based on a traditional criss cross pattern of a Krama. Everyone has an equal right of way and somehow we all weave through with a smile.
My biggest wonder though is that I can finally work at a slower pace. Long lazy breakfasts with the laptop and a coffee and then home for cool shower before a spot of teaching in the afternoon. The climate and culture imbue a languor and my how it suits me. The smile spreads easily onto my face in the languid liquid evenings as my brow is soothed smooth in the hot breeze. The Asperger Path is still an uptight and anxious one but for how long, I wonder.