Archive | 2:50 pm

The days in between

8 Apr

I’m not sure why tuk tuk drivers annoy me so much… I think it’s the fact that they seem so nice – I just want to say ‘yes’…. in a moment of impish naughtiness I nearly got one to take me across the street today. And it was only a small street. I now have the slight shake of the head down to a fine art.

So, some time to take in the rest of the sights of Phnom Penh. Just watching what’s going on is great fun – the little street stalls with people selling garlands for the car, grapefruit, popcorn, water, cane juice, lottery tickets… and street sales of petrol, tyre repairs and more. No-one has a freezer – everyone has ice delivered every day for their eskie. You can buy pretty much anything from a street cart – brushes, shave ice, keys, knife sharpening…

The markets are fascinating, if a bit smelly with all the meat and fish – although I haven’t managed to find A4 paper with punch holes in it – or a hole punch for that matter.

Thinking about the tuk tuk drivers – they seem to spend a lot of time just hanging around… there’s obviously far more tuk tuks than tuk tuk customers.

No need for a tuk tuk to visit the royal palace though – it’s just round the corner from my hotel. Not all of the palace can be visited, but it’s still very pretty. There are monks taking souvenir photos. There are hundreds of buddha images. The silver pagoda itself has hundreds of silver miniatures (no photographs, sadly). There are huge number of trees in pots. There’s music.  There’s a certain amount of consternation when the guide announces that the king used to be a belly dancer – we eventually realise that he meant ballet dancer.

And it’s hot. Really hot. April is in fact the hottest time of the year in Cambodia, and this snowboarder is melting. And check out the little kid in the middle of the musicians with his mobile phone….

Royal Palace (36)Royal Palace (34)Royal Palace (32)Royal Palace (29)Royal Palace (24)Royal Palace (15)Royal Palace (12)Royal Palace (5)

Nice, then, that the fountains had started working – I’d watched a little guy paddling up to his waist in the pool earlier in the week, and checked out the technology – so it was great to see it actually working with flip flops and catherine wheels, with rotating sprays and all sorts of hydraulic madness.

By the Vietnamese co-operation monument (12)By the Vietnamese co-operation monument (4)

In the evening, I took a walk down to the dodgier end of town to visit the Boat Noodle House, where I managed to order enough food for four (I only ordered two dishes, honest, but the appetizer seemed to be an appetizer for a family of eight).

So today, I thought I would go find a hotel with a pool and go for a swim.  Perhaps some exercise will help… if I don’t sink. Managed to bodyswerve eight tuk tuk drivers and a moto on the way, but it really is just across the road.

So, a lovely pool, a nice swim, a beer, and a chance to watch the boats on the Tonle Sap river, some of which I am pretty certain are about to sink.

Walk by the Tonle Sap (4)

And just to add to the decadence, I went down town for pizza and then a mojito at the old Foreign Correspondents’ Club which is a lovely old building overlooking the river, with lots of air and fans, and expats watching the world go by.

Last day in Phnom Penh though… next stop, Siem Reap and the temples of Angkor Wat. Better charge that camera battery.


More thoughts….

8 Apr

By the Vietnamese co-operation monument (1)

  • My friend Lisa had this to say about my last blog entry:

"Tim… I (and probably a lot of your other readers) did know about this history. This is one of the main reasons I ‘feel’ so differently from you in many ways…. but I will send a personal msg and not write in detail on your FB wall! Your …last note about ‘teaching others to love one another’ – yes, that’s lovely, but I am also very sure that (again) a lot of your readers on FB already do this. It is the ‘unconverted’ you need to reach. Sorry, but that is really how I feel. Lots of love to you – my heart would be breaking if I’d seen those images in person (as I have seen some of the Nazi death camps)…………..LOVE x"

I wanted to really have a chance to think through a response to that: so here it is!

Yes, Lisa… maybe you’re right. And, yet again, I’m not so sure you are.

You’re right – the people reading this blog and on FB are nice people. Certainly some of my favourite people on the planet. And yet, beyond that . . .

I look at the world and I see a place full of sadness, full of division. I look into my own heart and I do see the things that created the Nazi holocaust, that created the Cambodian genocide. Fear. Anger. Violence. Am I loving and kind? I think so. Apart from when I am not. And I am not talking when I am grumpy and rude. I’m talking when I am mean, cold, cruel, heartless. As without, so within, it seems.

And yet I look at that same world and I see a world of hope, of love, of dramatic beauty, of kindness, of selflessness. I see a world of friendship, of invention, of creativity. I see a world of compassion, a world where peace is possible, where we learn and grow and develop… a world I am proud to be part of.

Do we love as much as we could, I wonder? As I wander round this wonderful world, I ask myself that question often. Am I playing my part in caring for the world – loving everyone I come into contact with, blessing even the folk that annoy me (I find myself getting hugely irritated by tuk tuk drivers at the moment. I struggle with beggars. I’m not proud of my response sometimes) Is that different from the hatred that causes out of control violence? Perhaps. And perhaps not.

So I find myself asking ‘could these things happen again?’ And I ask myself ‘Could I ever be part of the problem – instead of part of the solution?’ And I wish I was certain of the answer. But the point is that I get to choose. I get to choose Who I Am in the face of violence, hatred, anger, cruelty. I get to choose from all the possible responses to express who I am. To demonstrate that I am loving and caring. And I hope that goes beyond just loving the loveable, but to loving the unloveable too. Not just loving the nice people – but loving the ‘not so nice’.

And Lisa rightly took me to task over my closing paragraph… when I reread it it felt condescending. But, actually, the heart of it is in the final sentence – something I do feel very keenly – that the violence and cruelty in the world would disappear if we simply learned to like ourselves, if we became happier with who we are and how we are. To what extent do we truly love ourselves? If we had a true measure of our self worth, of how important we are, how much we are valued… could we ever willingly hurt another?

Just wondering . . .

In the Park (2)

For those of you who felt a measure of ‘incomplete’ over the mention of ‘dragons’ a couple of posts back – here’s your dragon.





(New theme, by the way, partly to reflect the fact that it’s spring, partly to reflect the fact that I’m feeling full of the desire for change, partly because I feel full of lightness and joy, and mostly because when I was editing using the old theme, I ended up trying to edit black on grey at 10 point and it was playing merry hell with my eyesight.)

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