WANDERLUST STOP 1 – CAMBODIA ON BIKE AND KAYAK
To Travel Is to Live said Hans Christian Andersen and it should ring so very true to any fellow ‘travel bug’ sufferer. I’m all for the mindful being in the present, it’s just that being in the present and experiencing the moment fully, happens to be just that much easier when your bags are packed.
The unfortunate July foot versus taxi incident delayed my Nepal plan and made for a super slow Halloween 10k but it also meant that I could swap rather cold and wet November London for a southeast Asian escape from reality.
I got to kayak through the flooded forest of Mekong, mountain bike around Angkor complex, which gives you access to beautiful small and out-of-the-way temples minus the usual crowds, spend a night on the tiny island next door to a floating fishing village and eat my way through the Siem Reap food market (I might have picked up some sarong pants there too, not my proudest moment I admit).
Did I feel more alive than on my daily commute, sweating buckets on the spin bike together with the fellow corporate drones or getting through the December Christmas parties’ slog? Not necessarily, but rubbing shoulders with the 6am breakfast crowd at the busy market in Steung Teng or getting soaked by a hot downpour in the empty and now drowned streets of Siem Reap feels just that much more real. Hence stopping in a moment and bringing the breath in and out mindfulness habit alive happens pretty much on its own.
Thanks to a bout of red-eye flight migraine I didn’t get to see the killing fields and the Tuol Sleng Prison Museum in Phnom Penh – sombering reminders of the tragic Cambodian history and a chilling warning where the post Brexit and POTUS Trump times of cheap radical propaganda could lead us.
SOME UNEXPECTED CHANGE OF PLAN NOTES
I did get to see the Cambodian hospital instead and got to appreciate the dark side of travel bug problem, having hydration packs and promethazine at hand as well as a valid travel insurance – silver linings abound when you get sick on holiday 😉 As much as it was a disappointment, such last-minute hiccup is a great way to keep one’s wanderlust in check – there’s never really enough time and the world is bloody big and that is okay, actually.
This is exactly what H. C. Andersen must have meant – if travel is to live then it can’t ever be completed. It’s best to just embrace it and work on a collection of places to get back to, be it dune surfing in Morocco, some dark history lessons or a lazy day on a beach – an ever growing itinerary for a journey through already familiar places seems to me like a good way to Be.
To finish with another quote – consistency is the playground of dull minds said Yuval Noah Harari in his brilliant Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind which I happened to be reading on the flight back. What an awesome thought to kick-start 2017!