Just a quick update because holy cow there’s been a lot and there’s about to be more – no deep thoughts here, just some facts and photos of possible interest only to my family, most patient friends and most devoted stalkers.
It’s been what, a month, so I will only sum up:
So sad to leave Santa Maria. Hope to go back in October. My new friend there, Carolyn, says the weather is glorious now and the Japanese mock orange will blossom soon, and azaleas, and callas. Maybe I’ll see it next year.
Because of an ill-advised backslide into caffeine, I embarked on some heavy-duty traveling – Azores to Malaysia – on three hours’ sleep, hoping to catch up during the flights; that didn’t happen; arrived in Penang what felt like dangerously sleep-deprived. Somewhere in there I’d spent fortyish hours in Paris, but mostly slept, only went out long enough to embarrass myself trying to speak the language and get sore feet wearing fancy black booties with heels (I typed hells first, which is about right), trying to fit in like a Parisienne, which I might have got away with, maybe, until I opened my mouth. The point of passing through Paris had been to take a dance class, dip my toe in, but that didn’t happen.
Stayed in Penang just long enough to recover, more or less – a week. No photos or much to tell you about that week; I mostly slept A LOT. Oh: except that while there I hit on the narrative voice for novel #1. And that is EXTREMELY EXCITING, but probably not to anyone but me.
Then off again, to Cambodia. I’ve been here in Siem Reap since the 29th. At the moment I’m drinking hot lime and mint tea because I caught a cold here again; it happens every time I come to Siem Reap; very strange. This time I’ve soldiered through because I’ve had these super exciting things to do.
This is parenthetical and of no interest to anyone, but two of my favorite restaurants on the planet are here – Atmosphere and Moringa – and they’ve done this brilliant thing, moved into the same space! So now you sit down and they give you menus from BOTH restaurants. What a smart idea. I feel like I’m dreaming: I can have, like, the best felafel I’ve ever had – Atmosphere makes everything from scratch, even their own pita – or I can have a Moringa Sri Lanka Bowl: local red rice and pineapple and mounds of toasted coconut and fresh mint, and this incredible curry sauce. And then: vegan ice cream. Like, the best ice cream I’ve ever had except possibly in Florence, Italy, but that was twenty years ago. Strawberry and passion fruit. I must be dreaming. It’s so good.
Wednesday took a half-day motorbike tour in the S.R. environs, including a lesson in the morning – so, as of about 9:30 a.m. on the 30th, I started to feel really comfortable on a motorbike! That’s been a huge hurdle and I’m delighted to have hurdled it. (Yes, that word works both ways and no, I don’t want a synonym. I like hurdling hurdles. Say it ten times fast.) My bike here is little, a Honda Dream, 150 cc semiauto – everyone has them here. No photos from that day, sorry, but you’ll see the bike in a minute.
Thursday, finally toured the Angkor temples – fantastic, fascinating, wish I could tell you more, but there is no time, I’ll just show you some photos. It was a tour on Vespas, another brilliant idea. Sorry, people have asked for photos of me, so now I’m giving you billions.
Friday, a second bike tour, to one of the floating villages on Tonle Sap, another fascinating, beautiful day. Dry season, so they were way up there, like twenty feet up, on stilts. Wet season, the lake laps at their floors. Mr. Rong said with some of the houses they’ve had to raise the floor, so now they have low ceilings.
I’ve had the weekend to rest up and finish some work. (Anyone want to read my abstract of The Road to Unfreedom? I can’t post it online but could email it to you.) Tomorrow morning – in ten hours!! – I’m leaving on a six-day bike tour. We’re going up and over Kulen Mountain, to Kaoh Ker village and then to Ta Seng and Prasat Bakan; the last day we’ll be off-roading on a single-track through the jungle. I’m so excited I can hardly sit still. I’ve got a feeling this will be a life-changing week in some way that I can’t imagine.
I’ll be back Saturday afternoon and then leave early Sunday morning for Bangkok – so I’ll update you again sometime after that – I imagine I’ll be knackered for a few days.
Take care, be good to one another. xox