I think that the one thing I have hated the most about Southeast Asia is the constant state of sweating. This isn’t just me being gross, everyone but the locals sweat here. It’s worse when I wear sunscreen / bugscreen lotion as the sweat beads up differently and just coats every inch of skin. Subsequently I avoid both of them, but usually I avoid situations where both or either would be needed (being out during the high hours, etc.) It’s so hot and muggy here that you can’t even walk down the road early in the morning to get breakfast without breaking a sweat. I look forward to re-entering my air conditioned world where I go from my air conditioned house to my air conditioned car to my air conditioned office. No comment on the ozone layer, I am quite aware.
Presently I am sitting at the blue pumpkin again, on a comfy couch with a teapot of earl grey. I am recovering from two days at the Angkor temples. A great way to get heat exhaustion, that is. I felt like crap both of those days and as I am feeling better presently I think that that’s what was up with my cranky body that is seemingly never satisfied no matter how much water I drink. Anyway. So, Angkor.
First of all, while Angkor Wat was impressive (probably more impressive in retrospect) it was not my favorite. Ta Prom was, though I would probably like it better without the pushy obnoxious tour groups (side note: you can’t experience anything in a tour group larger than like, fifteen, so you thirty something tour groups need to freaking suck it up and split up). Ta Prom is the temple with the unfortunate distinction of being the temple where they filmed Tomb Raider.
The entire time I was wandering around the temples I wished I had my medium format camera with me, and a holga. I am determined to come back to Angkor, particularly Ta Prom, with a holga and oodles of film, because I think that that would be an amazing way to capture the temples and the lightening. Next time. Because it is not like this is my last time in Southeast Asia. It won’t be.
Even after three months in Vietnam, I wouldn’t be able to tell you why I came here. My general reasoning is that I wanted “to be out of my element.” Which is true, that was a motivating factor. But really, I did the equivalent of looking at a map of Asia, closing my eyes, and pointing. And somehow I ended up in Southeast Asia. It was a decision that was made on impulse after I had thrown out all the carefully made plans to travel to China and study there (wasted quite a bit of money on Chinese language books, too). This seems to be how all of my major life decisions are made, and so far it’s worked out for me pretty well.
At some point during my wanderings the first day, I realized that this was why I did the program. Not for Angkor, specifically. For the ancient history and culture that I knew nothing about, for the Buddhist monks that are such a daily sight that I hardly note them anymore, for the pagodas and wats in every neighborhood, for the jungle, for learning that monkeys are indeed fuckers, for the communist political culture, for the experience of living [mostly] on my own in a foreign country where I don’t speak the language whose culture is so different from my own that even the westernization couldn’t be described as truly “west.” So yes, I came here to get out of my element.
And now I could tell you what that means.
I have over 450 pictures from the last two days. Ah, the power of digital. I would probably have taken as much with a film camera, but can you imagine how expensive that’d be to develop? It is going to take me awhile to sort through them all and figure out which twenty or so I am going to resize and post. I did change my header image to a Cambodian one – a picture of an apsara relief that I took at one of the temples. I also posted one of myself at Angkor Wat with a sign for my graduating folks back at Hollins. The fact that they’re graduating soon and the fact that I have exactly a year before I graduate is a fact that I’m ignoring.
EVERYTHING WILL BE EXACTLY THE SAME WHEN I GO HOME. Only not. At all.