Noi6 means "the 6 of us" in Romanian.

We are five, you are the sixth one.

We thank you for joining us in our trip around the world...

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Learning From Cambodia

Cambodia is my favorite country so far. Why?

It's a friendly place. It's quiet. It's happy.

Three illustrations:

1) You smile at someone, they smile back. And you don't even have to worry about whether or not you look weird. Nope! This is the culture. It's friendly. It's open. It's welcoming.

2) There are no horn honks. There are few cars. People walk slow.  NO ONE HONKS.

3) People are smiling all the time. Even when they're not smiling, one smile makes them light up.

There are dirt roads in Siem Reap, with tuk-tuks hitched to bright red motorcycles. Little kids are running around the temples holding up postcards and flutes, offering to sell one for one dollar, or two for one dollar… anything for one dollar.

It kind of makes you hurt a bit.

And it makes you re-evaluate what you need.

Yes, the economy of Cambodia and the economy of the USA, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, are completely different, but just think for a second of how many things you may have that you think you need, but you don't.

I now realize that while I might hate it for a while, I could do without the laptop or an iPod for the entire trip. And, in the end, I'd be happier.

Why? Free internet is rampaging through the world. A notebook works just as well as a keyboard. The latest music isn't necessary for your wellbeing. In fact, music isn't really necessary at all-- not the in-your-ear-all-the-time variety, at least. And book exchanges are paradise. If I ever travel again like this, I'll probably purge a couple of things from my bag:

  1. The tablet and pen. I brought this for comics. I knew even before I left I could probably live without it, but at the time I wasn't much in the mood. And it fit so nicely in my bag!
  2. The school supplies. Besides the fact that I haven't used them because of the tablet (lifesaver when doing Khan Academy, which is pointless without internet), the next time I take a trip like this I probably won't need them. Hopefully.
  3. The notebooks. I only have a sketchbook and a notebook, but one thing is clear-- if I had a moleskine or some equally lightweight but good-quality notebook, I wouldn't need the heavy stuff.
  4. The laptop. Like I said, the internet is rampaging. And book exchanges are everywhere. Book exchanges are lifesavers, I kid you not. And I'm not writing as much as I used to. And I type fast, so any blog posts I ever wrote would be very quickly typed up, probably in 15 minutes. Not forgetting, of course, advanced planning.

This does not mean I'll be packing off my laptop and notebooks and tablet off to Upstate New York. For one thing, I have to live with four other people, and no matter how nice they are, one needs an escape route from them.

But it does mean that I'm reassessing my needs and wants, which, after all, is part of what we're on this trip for. And Cambodia definitely helped with that.

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