Persistence Pays

If you’re reading this, you probably know me quite well (hi, mom!). And if you know me quite well, you probably know that I can… shall we say ‘struggle’ with decision-making? Many times, it’s not that I don’t know what I want. It’s that I want it all. Cake to be eaten. Promptly. I want to have the comfort of home, but I also want to venture out. I want to make a meaningful contribution to society, but I also want to sit around and read books. I want to train to run another half marathon, but I also want to have leisurely coffee on my balcony as the temperature rises ten degrees above what anyone would consider good running weather.

This inability to make and stick with decisions has sometimes made me the bane of people’s existence. I get it. Some things never change…

A couple of months ago, I met a guy looking for trekking partners (that’s what they call hiking over here, i guess, as i can’t seem to get anyone to tell me how hiking and trekking might be different, a question i once asked a gal hiking hadrian’s wall, only to be looked at with disdain and to receive the “it’s just… trekking” condescending answer). I was finding myself in my typical decision-making pattern, going back and forth as to why I would or wouldn’t go trekking with him from Chambok.

Pros:

  1. I love hiking, and I miss it tremendously.
  2. I also miss being out in nature, seeing green.
  3. I have been feeling a need to challenge my body, other than just running in heat.

Cons:

  1. It’s hot as hell here in April. I mean, have I mentioned yet how I sweat nearly a liter every time I just sweep the floor? (yes, yes, i know i’ve mentioned this before)
  2. The expense was not something I had in my budget. While it really wasn’t that expensive for the services, it’s just that I’m not trying to completely and totally run out of cash while hanging out in Cambodia. I like my landlady A LOT (she gave me more beers the other day!!!) and would like to continue being able to give her rent money each month.
  3. I don’t really know this guy and he could be
    1. a serial killer, or
    2. just annoying as hell.

There was also more than a twinge of fear that I wouldn’t be able to keep up on the trek (this is founded in the reality of past hikes, like when trekking gorillas at Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda – you’d have to buy me a beer to tell you this whole story), but I was able to give fear a big F-U. Still, indecision.

I eventually messaged The Dane, my to-be hiking partner, saying I wasn’t going, citing monetary issues. While he expressed disappointment, I agreed to still meet up with him later in his trip, trading the use of my washing machine for a bottle of his homebrew. And I know I’m good at drinking beer, so no fear there.

But as it turns out The Dane is a hella persistent guy, and each time I met up with him here in PP before the planned trekking trip, he kept trying to convince me to go with him (all the while succeeding at convincing me he was neither a serial killer nor annoying as hell). But it was actually a TED talk by Ruth Chang about “How to Make Hard Choices” that made me fully change my mind. She talks about hard choices being those with no truly “better” answer, which is what this decision was – definite pros, definite cons. Here’s what Chang had to say:

“So when we face hard choices, we shouldn’t beat our head against a wall trying to figure out which alternative is better. There is no best alternative. Instead of looking for reasons out there, we should be looking for reasons in here: Who am I to be? You might decide to be a pink sock-wearing, cereal-loving, country-living banker, and I might decide to be a black sock-wearing, urban, donut-loving artist. What we do in hard choices is very much up to each of us.

Now, people who don’t exercise their normative powers in hard choices are drifters. We all know people like that. I drifted into being a lawyer. I didn’t put my agency behind lawyering. I wasn’t for lawyering. Drifters allow the world to write the story of their lives. They let mechanisms of reward and punishment — pats on the head, fear, the easiness of an option –to determine what they do. So the lesson of hard choices: reflect on what you can put your agency behind, on what you can be for, and through hard choices, become that person.

Did I want to put my agency behind being a fiscally-responsible safety-seeker? Or did I want to be a slightly less financially viable, albeit sweaty as hell, experience-seeker?

Exactly.

I eventually caved, bought bus tickets, and joined him on an early Sunday-morning bus ride out of the city. Of course, everything was a great experience. We laughed (tons!), ate great food (also tons!), and got to see some of the culture of rural life in Cambodia (making rice wine, dancing and drinking beers for Khmer New Year, staying in a homestay, learning about medicines and foods from the forest, hearing the stories of the locals (ranging from stories of toasts made while drinking to stories of refugee camps), riding around on a tractor and bicycles…).

Okay, this is already TLDR, and I didn’t even talk about the trekking yet! Here, look at some pics of the whole trip (photo credit for half of these to the dane)…

Biking around the area:

 

 

Just some of the delicious foods we had:

 

 

Some of the sights and activities around town:

 

 

Our homestay:

 

 

Short day trek to Second and Third Waterfalls (where, as we were hiking down what our guide called an “adventure” path (read: most people don’t go this way), The Dane said, “If they want to expand their ecotourism, they’ll have to look at safety,” right before I completely bit it — my only fall this trip that left bruises):

 

 

… And the big day trek from Chambok to Kirirom National Park:

 

 

Feeling gratitude for persistent Danes.

Next undertaking? Another vipassana course (like this one I did a few months ago, but in Kampong Cham). Glutton for punishment, but putting my agency behind, trying to be for meditation and self-improvement. Here’s hoping!

Non-stop Catch-up

Dear sweet heaven. I just looked at the last time I posted. JANUARY??? Well, dammit. That’s too much to catch up on! Can I play my blogging start-over card, please?   No? Okay, how about a super-quick bulleted list catch-up, then a start-over? Ok? Ok. Thanks. (shhh… i’m not even going to edit this… just get it posted already…)

Here’s a list of some of the places I’ve gone, things I’ve done, people I’ve traveled with over the past 2+months:

  • I went to Lazy Beach out on Koh Rong Samloem with SLT1 and A.
  • I traveled solo to Siem Reap, including a trip to Koh Ker and Beng Melea (intentionally avoiding some of the major temples near Angkor Wat as I knew they’d be on the agenda in the near future).
  • I headed back out to Lazy Beach with SLT1, A, and A’s sister, Iron Squid (long story…).
  • Right from there, we went to Tatai for river swimming, SUPing, and jungle trekking.
  • A couple of days later, I flew to JAPAN! to meet up with my sister. I’ve gotta say a bit more about this, though…. But I’ll stay with  a brief list. We hit both Tokyo and Kyoto, and here are just a few of the things I loved about this country:
      • The organized, clean chaos of the big city (such a difference from PP)
      • The beauty of the fabrics
      • The lovely people
      • The greenery around Kyoto
      • The ramen
      • The sushi (fatty tuna=fish butter… mmmm….)
      • The ramen
      • The soba
      • The ramen
      • The udon
      • The okonomiyaki (how had I not even heard of this before?)
      • The sushi
      • The Ghibli Museum
      • The Kabuki-za theater
      • The parks
      • The otaku culture
      • The temples (so different, too!)
      • THE PUBLIC BATHS, especially Kurama Onsen
      • The ramen
    • Seriously, I dream about the ramen. Maybe it was the roasted pork, but daaaaaaaaaamn. Sis says she’s going to open a vending machine ramen counter where she lives. I plan to live in the upstairs apartment (not that I’ve thought about this much – ha!).
    • And even though the ramen was that good, the best part was spending time with my sissypants. Damn, I love that gal…
  • Several days later I welcomed my first visitor from the U.S.! This is an immense journey to make, and A² had some airline issues that made it even more immensely immense. But once he and (eventually) his luggage arrived, we got in some memorable travels:
      • We headed up to Siem Reap and did the temple tour thing, proving to me that I could still be “wowed” by and really enjoy temples (even if I did lose my phone – oops!).
      • We hit some of the touristy things in Phnom Penh that I’ve been putting off, like the Royal Palace and Wat Phnom.
      • We took the train down to Kampot, rented motos to ride up Bokor Mountain, and drove over to Kep for crab and to eventually report a missing moto (another long story – let’s grab a beer sometime and I’ll tell you all about it!).
      • Then we took the bus to Sihanoukville for the night before heading back over to Koh Rong Samloem, this time starting on Sunset Beach. A² spent the days diving to get his open water cert (an impressive undertaking!), and I spent them hiking the trail to hang with SLT1 and A at Saracen Bay and Lazy Beach (equally as productive, right?).
      • Next we took a tiny (FAST, BUMPY) boat ride over to Lazy Beach for a couple more days before heading back to Phnom Penh.
    • While I know this trip wasn’t easy (and certainly not as a first international trip!), I can barely express my gratitude at being able to share this place with someone from another one of my “home”s.

 

Now the last couple of days I’ve just been lazypants. To the extreme. The first day after A² left, I was actually too lazy (and maybe experiencing some travel/visit-ending let-down) to even go to the theatre to watch movies. Yep. Wow.

But now I’m feeling rejuvenated and ready to jump back in to life in Phnom Penh.

And maybe actually process some things rather than just running in to them head-first non-stop…