From the minute I walked out of the airport just over a week ago it felt right, I was home, I felt good, warmth permeated my bones, sunshine and smiles warmed my soul – I had arrived.
The smells, sounds and other sensations experienced on the journey from airport to hotel induced physical responses from within me, from giggle to guffaw, grin to grimace, titter to tear I emoted every moment of the 10km journey to Cambodia’s capital – Phnom Penh.
The emotions continued to explode from within as I explored once more the familiar streets of my once home, reconnected with friends local and expatriate and availed myself of the wonder that is Cambodian coffee, food and hospitality.
A 3 hour bus journey delivered me home to Kampot where the explosion of sensory experiences has continued. More reconnecting has occurred, new connections have been made, those random smiles I so missed during my time in the UK are elicited on a daily and hourly basis as I settle back in to my life where wearing flip flops all day, every day not only doesn’t induce a trench foot like condition but actively heals it – scabby England feet be gone!
I’ve become acquainted with my new home and the assorted fellow occupants thereof. From my temporary housemate (and the lady I have to thank for getting me this fabulous place to call home) Linda, who is a fabulous smile and giggle inducer and corrupts me in equal measure to the corruption I inflict on her (Naked Attraction watching is our new late evening guilty pleasure), on to our caretaker come security man Sareth with his wonderful smile, eagerness to engage and Cambodian quirkiness, to the collection of wildlife that pepper my home life here: The 24 hour frog chorus emanating from the pond/swamp outside my bedroom window; the gecko community that occasionally scare the bejesus out of me as they excitedly chase and devour the mosquito community in my room; the night time hounds howling in the distance and the permanent swarm of little black midges around my head thanks to my very bright and apparently extremely attractive to insects hair colour.
Work is gaining a rhythm, I’m back at my beloved Dorsu working with the amazing team here as they create beautiful clothes ethically and from the heart.
The girls at Banteay Srey Spa welcomed me with open arms when I headed across the river to see them last Friday and today marks the start of a new chapter there as eight new trainees embark on a learning journey I feel blessed to be a part of.
And I can truly say that life is good. Yes, there have been moments of sadness, a few long hours in the middle of the night where the combination of jetlag induced insomnia and messy thoughts led down painful paths and I do miss people from my time back in the UK – my three months over the summer were a whirlwind of experiences: some mad, some bad, many bonkers and a whole heap of them filled with joy, love, laughter and learning – but I’ve brought those memories with me and with that a small part the special people connected to them are here with me too.
And I’m here and living and loving life by the river in sleepy, old Kampot. Still discovering and becoming me on a daily basis and loving every mad bonkers, flipflop clad minute of it.