I’ve heard people here refer to Phnom Penh as a “concrete jungle” but I find it refreshing. Buildings and gates painted in different colours, coloured corrugated iron rooves, trees dangling over walls and potted plants everywhere. I know these are small things, but they’re small things I enjoy.
After nearly three decades of chronic pain the difference made by radically limiting my exposure to salicylic acid was near miraculous. It can be irritaing, but having a choice, and a measure of control, is amazing.
Of the three tonal languages I’ve studied Mandarin has the easiest tones to learn. What most English speakers don’t realise is that we also use tones every day! We use a rising tone to turn a statement into a question. One of the best examples I can think of to explain is the word “okay”.
I lived a third of my life in China; I miss speaking Mandarin on a daily basis. I’ve been feeling very in-between. I feel far from China, and far from Australia, but I know I don’t totally belong here, either. Australia is looming closer. The more I think about it, the harder it hits that I have left the only life I know, and am heading into something very unknown.
Soon the Cambodian Stars became one of the last things packed and first things put up whenever I moved. And when I myself moved to Cambodia the Cambodian Stars came home. I hung them in my bedroom – a promise, a reminder.
The tuktuk plowed through deep water on flooded back roads. The tuktuk suddenly began leaning toward the right. So there I was, standing under an awning by the side of a small road, looking at a disabled tuktuk and listening to the rain.
It’s hard to convey just how much mental energy went into pain suppression, so that I could actually THINK in the remaining part of my mind. There was sadness over things I couldn’t share in with my friends, and fear that I was seen as lazy for not joining in.
After ten years living in the thick air of Beijing, I still remember not only what smog looks like, but what it FEELS like. There are physical consequences to breathing smog (which I suspect has affected my health more than I care to know), but there is also an emotional impact to living in a darkened world.