My favourite childhood story goes like this: Bloke has a donkey. He feeds it one heap of hay every day. One day bloke needs to leave for a little while. Being a considerate bloke that he is, he gives his donkey two heaps of hay to survive on. Poor donkey doesn't know which heap of hay to start with, they both look the same, hard choice you see, he wrecks his little donkey brain with this teaser and in the end dies of hunger as no decision is made. (The bloke in this story is Professor Buridan who tells his students until their ears bleed the importance of being able to make a decision in time. The name of the donkey is unknown.)
I have a similar problem. Not only I consider myself a donkey having caried heavy loads in my time but I also suffer from similar undecisiveness as our donkey friend from the previous paragraph.
The most recent example would have to be my trip to Thailand last week. Shopping opportunities there are much greater than in our little Cambodia. I was very much looking forward to shopping. The difference in lifestyle and living conditions is visible immediately after crossing the border in the delightful township of Poipet (renamed Poopet by myself and many others) and Aranya Prathet on the "other" side.
I needed heaphones for my ipod. The old ones melted away in the heat of Cambodia. I found countless stalls. Shops. Street vendors. All selling headphones like they were going out of fashion. In fashionable colours mind you. Pink, green, blue, yellow, red and plain white... I was overwhelmed. I never even got to the stage of choosing or asking for price. I never bought any headphones in Thailand. My ears still hurt from my old worn melted ones I somehow kept for sentimental reasons. Luckily I did as they blocked out the shouting of our Vietnamese fellow passengers in a crammed van back to Cambodia. Thank you, headphones, and thank you, Metallica.
Shopping malls - and I have been to a few before in my previous life - have blown me away this time. You really do need a map (what a country pumpkin you must think!). In the end I had to leave as I could not face the pressure of what I should like,
what I should buy, what my life should be about. Still, the material demons are gnawing at my soul but I am resisting,
returning to the "jungle" with only two boxes of Marks & Spencers finest tea (on sale) and a few biscuits. Plus one black bra
that actually fits my western boobs and you can cross or remove the straps. Revolutionary.Yes, we do need Thailand.
Shells from the beach add a significant weight to my bag but hey, they were free and there was plenty of them, so don't tell me off for that.
Shopping is very different in Cambodia. In fact, the rural Asia shares the same pattern everywhere or at least I think so.
Number of shops or stalls selling exactly the same thing in a very near proximity to one another. You have seen it before:
roads lined with stalls selling only bananas or jackfruit or any other fruit that is in season or whatever. Sections of markets selling only shoes or hardware. Same goods. Exactly the same. My question is: how do you choose who you will buy from? All bananas are the same yellow. They cost the same. Even the vendors look very similar..... I get confused and walk away and wonder what is the logic behind it? What if, in the land of bananas, you suddenly find yourself craving for melons? Do you have to go to a melon village? And how do you determine who has the best melons? Serious matter here. I need answers.
I was having my half yearly spruce up some time ago and while comfortably seated in a hairdressing chair with foils safely
secured to make me look like an alien, I was mindlessly turning pages whith pretty people on them when a conversation
from the next chair became a little more interesting.
An expat lady, havig lived in Siem Reap for a while, had introduced (I think) sweets to a bunch of kids. Kiddies loved them.
So much in fact, that she had some more brought over from wherever she was from. All gone in a second. She presented the idea to the parents, some of whom had small shops in the neighbourhood, to sell these sweets. This stopped the conversation. Confusion set in. Parents considered the matter carefully. They scratched their chins, rolled their eyes and shrugged eventually with a negative verdict:
"Erhm....but nobody else is selling them..... "
I rest my case, Cambodia, all this time and I still don't understand you. Off to buy some bananas or at least I will try....
anna bella betts
Never still, always on the move, looking for the perfect capture... Cambodia is currently my home, presenting endless opportunities....
In this blog you will find no profound wisdom.
Just accounts of daily life, sometimes about photography, often about wine, occasionally about travel adventures and sometimes about nothing at all.