A discussion with myself ensued this morning over iced coffee and some flirting with the Khmer lady that makes my coffee. I would say a beautiful smile she has with vibrant dark eyes and that sparkling personality. She told me she had seen me out walking but I had not seen her. I told her my name and she told me her name and we shook hands.
The discussion was about these wonderful people and their warmth and character and friendliness. I feel sometimes we short change them because of abrupt nature of some visitors. We don’t show them our best side but keep in mind this is their country and we are the visitors here so don’t act like an asshole American or wherever. I saw this at dinner last night too. Why is it that some people even come here? It’s so out of their character. You look at them and they should be staying in an upscale downtown hotel. Why in the world would they come to Otres Village? Its just a small dirt road lined city with a fair share of restaurants and bars and the beach. I considered that too.
As I sat over my iced latte first thing in the morning I felt blessed in a few ways to be able to have the time to just sit and not be rushed to the next destination. I’ll go to Siem Reap and see the Wats there and spend a month in that city but that’s to come. I thought about what it means to have a retirement visa here in Cambodia that basically lifts the barriers of entry for a year and lets me go where I want, see what I want, and leave and come back as I want. Cambodia was never meant as the full time home for me but as a home base. I knew I needed a home that I could feel comfortable in and enter the LaLune Hotel in Phnom Penh. I needed to learn how to get around. Enter the mobile GRAP app. I needed to find the vendors and services that would fix things like cameras and give me a quality haircut and feed me.
I then walked to the WING currency exchange shop where you can break larger US bills into smaller and got some change. If you don’t know it the US dollar rules here but you often get change back in a mix of Riel and US dollars so its to your favor to learn the 4 to 1 rule in currency exchange. Not that I have been cheated and I never give a truly large bill to a restaurant or bar. Largest I will give is $10 but most often the food and beverages cost a small amount. I had dinner the other night night for $3.25 which included a few beers and some delicious chicken fried rice. Same place has Khmer foods for cheap.
So all these thoughts kinda bubbled around in my poor little brain and then I went to the coffee shack down the street from my bungalow and met the owner there who wanted to talk. We shook hands and he told me about some of the reasons why Otres suffers through power outages and tap water gets cut off. Not because of infrastructure issues but the building and construction going on. He’s too nice to blame a certain asian country for their unchecked building methods here but its obvious. Sihanoukville is gonna change and already has and soon the little hamlets like Otres with little restaurants catering to all kinds of people will be in the past. It’s on the radar folks.
Today I leave a bit later and head to the Upper Market in downtown via tuk tuk. I’ll mess around there and see parts of the city with the camera and have dinner so will probably not go until later.
Favorite City Status
I was reading along on twitter and facebook today and some people were asking the favorite place we had visited. I thought back through so many places but only one really stands out for me. It has to be Da Nang Vietnam. If Vietnam had a retirement visa and my desire was to just stay put I think Da Nang with its eclectic mix of restaurants, bars, coffee culture, history and geography would be the place. It has this unique location of being both by a river and by the ocean. The Han River sparkles its way down the river front and businesses set up tables for coffee and food and beer on the streets in front of their restaurants. Let me tell you sitting out in the evening with a cold beer and just seeing the evening setting in with the bridges is amazing. I am a bridge guy and love finding them, photographing them, walking them. The favorite cities of mine like Vancouver and Osaka and Hiroshima all have bridges but Da Nang has the Golden Dragon Bridge. Most all of the bridges there light up at night and it creates an other worldly and beautiful experience to simply sit and enjoy a coffee or beer and just watch. Night time photography there is amazing as well.
But even all that being said, I feel no urgency to get back to Da Nang. I don’t feel a rush to return to Vietnam besides my few day stay in Phu Quoc Island which is a get away to a nice resort hotel where I can spoil myself.
Blogging This and That…
I guess after blogging for two decades I am jaded but when I read people talk about the big challenges around blogging and their accomplishments and nowhere is listed producing content it just kinda goes with what I feel is the downward evolution of this platform. Content is king folks. Words are power. If you blog and you do not do it for content and communication and exploration and discovery, why the hell do you do it? I’ve watched this platform nose dive to nothing but ads and sales pitches with a few words super imposed over them. I get you wanna sell things and you travel and you want to monetize and then fuel your travel and then do more of all the same. I’m in a different boat but on my boat I can see your boat clearly. In my boat, I don’t need to monetize a damned thing to go where I want so I have a different view. If you don’t think about the quality of your words and their impact I think you are W R O N G. And you got into the blogging for the wrong reason. Way back when, the early folks produced blogs that I would voraciously read about open source, their thoughts and ideas, articles read, and they would link to the so-called parma-links of other blogs to reinforce or have a discussion about disagreement. Do any of the bloggers now even know what a perma-link is I wonder?
Dealing with it all and Moving On
But I am nowhere close to folding my tent on blogging although so many of my colleagues have given up and just don’t create content any longer. I miss them and their original ideas and discussion. For me the blog here is about a thing which has persisted for a few years. It was about the planning and execution to leave and then the actual departure and places.
So this blog persists and I will continue to write in it and write my contrary opinions because this blog is not supported except by me. I will rail against wordpress.com when it feels right and consider moving to a self hosted wordpress.org site but on my own linux VPS. I will never move to a hosting solution where you cannot SSH or RDP in. But for me now, WordPress.com works and they took care of me once after I bugged them a few times on twitter.
So if you are a blogger today consider the impact of your words. The words are things that I relate to. It’s your original content. Instead of the 5 or 10 things that are best about the Hanoi coffee scene, try telling me your take on Hanoi and a day spent walking the old quarter. What did you see around Hoan Kiem Lake? What was it that you liked about Ho Chi Minh City?
I particularly avoid the posts that are regurgitations of 3 year old posts about the 10 things I should do in X or the 5 reasons I should go to Y. It feels like automated tweets to me that you just do to have presence.
I don’t mean to be so critical but of course I am critical. So sue me.