Discomfort

Remember my inner chimp – Norman – that I introduced you to while back.  Well, he regularly pops up to try to put me in my place and yesterday was no exception.   Going to the gym in the UK has always been a traumatic experience, even when I was at my super fit PT best I felt like a bit of a fraud and was worried about what people would think, so you can imagine how my mind reacted to me deciding to haul my distinctly more curvy (curvy and lumpy, bumpy & flabby if we’re totally honest) body to the gym here in Cambodia.

 

The first few minutes were a bit traumatic as I wrestled with Norman (thankfully only mentally as physically I needed all my energy to ride the damn bike) but after a short time I settled down.  I was ok!  And so was everyone else!  I had shut Norman up and was quickly able to just get on with doing my own thing in the gym, including laughing uproariously at myself as I wobbled myself thin.

 

Once Norman was firmly back in his box I got to thinking about some of the other times I’ve experienced discomfort (emotional or physical) since I’ve been here and I thought I’d share a couple of those with you now:

 

Last Thursday I sent Sophat a text to see if he was free to collect me at lunch to take me to Lucky Supermarket so that I could stock up on tins and other heavy and bulky stuff.

Lunchtime arrived and I headed out of the office to meet Sophat – and that’s when I experienced the first feeling of discomfort of this little adventure.  There was Sophat dozing in his hammock which was strung diagonally across his tuktuk.  Yes, selfish Sara had interrupted the much revered long lunch break of a good friend in order to buy tinned beans!

 

Despite my protestations Sophat assured me he wasn’t too tired (he looked knackered) and we set off for Lucky.  Once there we parked up and I told Sophat to have a good rest while I shopped slowly.  No sooner had I collected a trolley though than there was a tap on my shoulder – Sophat had decided to join me and proceeded to take the trolley (cart for any of my American friends) from me and push it alongside or behind me as I wandered around the aisles making my selections.  Never before in my life have I felt such an uncomfortable feeling of being a rich over privileged foreigner than at the moment when I turned the corner to come face to face with a fellow expat.  I’m pretty sure I visibly squirmed as Sophat pulled up next to me and took my assorted collection of stuff to put in the trolley (carefully examining each item in the process).  I made a big play of thanking Sophat before scuttling off with my head down and my pride in tatters.  The rest of the visit passed without incident, but rest assured I’ll think carefully before asking Sophat to take me shopping again.

 

On Saturday, thanks to Kheang kindly volunteering me, the student became the master and I took the newly arrived VSO Volunteers out on a tour of the city by Cyclo.  For those of you that don’t know, cyclos are a bit like a rickshaw bike but the seating area is in front.  And so, 5 assorted foreigners were guided into 5 cyclos and we set off through the mad traffic of downtown Phnom Penh.  My first source of discomfort was just the thought of the huge effort the elderly whippet like gentlemen was having to make to get the contraption to move with me as dead weight baggage.  But that was soon overshadowed as I realised just how visible I was in this thing.  Everyone could see I was a foreigner and nobody could be in any doubt that I was a tourist – surely no long term resident in their right mind would ride of these things!?  And as if that wasn’t bad enough I chose this journey to be the first when I took my proper camera out with me – way to go rich over privileged foreigner!   Inspite of all this, the trip was great fun (I’m a damn good tour guide if I do say so myself) and I did get some fab pictures so not all bad, but this is another one I might think twice about before agreeing to again.

 

And just before I go, a little bonus source of discomfort for you.  Yesterday, for the first time since I arrived I wore shoes – well trainers to be exact.  In honour of my visit to the afore mentioned gym, I donned the appropriate footwear (unlike a number of the Cambodian visitors to the same gym who wore flipflops among other odd footwear choices for lifting weights).  I did not like this!  They made my feet hot!  They reminded me of long walks and lost toenails!  I could not wait to get out of them.  And I hated it even more when I had got out of them to go swimming and then had to put them on again!

All of which is proof positive that I should continue to live my life wearing flipflops even after my new life becomes old hat!

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