One week from today, I’ll be embarking on a 28-hour journey from New York to London to Kuala Lumpur, before finally landing my tired self in Siem Reap, Cambodia. As of now, that will be my home for the next two(+) months.
Among the questions I’ve gotten about this trip (including “WTF?” and “You’re doing what?”), the most common one by far is, “Why Cambodia?” It’s hard for me to answer, because I don’t actually have a concrete, logical reason. My reason is more of a feeling, an impulse.
When I was 14 years old, I went on a trip to Paris with my French class. We spent a week touristing around the city, and I fell head over heels in love. I knew I had to go back to Paris someday, although that someday was somewhat nebulous. Fast forward to my junior year in college, when I figured out that if I took a few more classes, I could pick up a minor in French. Better yet, I could do all of my coursework while studying abroad in Paris.
Was it wise to follow an instinct I had felt seven years earlier as a young teenager, in a city where I had spent just a week? Hardly the stuff of solid life decisions, generally speaking. I had no real way of knowing whether I would like living there or not. All I knew is that I had been homesick for Paris for years. And while I loved it even more the second time around, I got to know Paris in a completely new way. (For the record, if you ever have the opportunity to study abroad in Paris, don’t overthink it. Just go.)
I guess that little anecdote is my best explanation for why I’ve decided to live in Cambodia for a bit. I spent about three days there in 2014, and I feel drawn back there to explore and learn more. Angkor Wat itself – a site that awed Anthony Bourdain so much that he claims he stopped taking travel photos altogether after seeing it – is worth the trip alone. But I also know there is much more to Cambodia, and the only way I’m going to dive into it is if I spend awhile there.
Also this gives me a chance to go back to the Bugs Cafe. Reason enough to return to Siem Reap, in my opinion!