BANGKOK – Just as it began, I am sitting here at the Shanti Lodge enjoying the tastes and sounds of Bangkok. Thai food is something special, but then all good food is. The whine of a tuk tuk provides the soundtrack to my late night bowl of noodle soup. I rolled out of Phnom Penh yesterday morning by bus. It was an bumpy and hot eight hour ride up to the border crossing at Poipet, and then a smooth four hour ride into Bangkok.
I noticed this when I flew to Bangkok last time, but the landscape changes so quickly as you move from Cambodia to Thailand. The Cambodian countryside is dry and dusty, the roads narrow, bumpy and littered with plastic bags. Almost immediately upon entering Thailand, the roads are smooth, the landscape is green, and the bus drivers obey traffic laws. How can two countries be so different? I guess 30 odd years of civil war followed by corruption and greed have done little for the poor folks in the countryside.
I sit here in Bangkok and see the ‘progress’ that this country has made compared to Cambodia. Corruption and graft have prevented much needed irrigation, education, and health projects from moving forward in the countryside. Instead those in power buy new land cruisers, build ugly houses full of shiny marble, drink Johnny Walker Blue Label with ice and soda water, and insist on using Evian water for everything. But Bangkok is crowded, polluted, and vain consumerism has taken over all aspects of life. Alright I’m starting to rant … I will try to elaborate on this later.
The main purpose of this entry is to say that I’ve left Cambodia. I have no plans to return there anytime soon. I will be in Seattle on May 1st and will be in the region for my sister’s graduation and a friends’ wedding. I am not sure about my plans thereafter.
Leaving Cambodia was hard, much harder than I thought it would be. I have some great friends that I will miss greatly, not to mention the country and its people. I want to return someday, but I’m not sure when that will be.
Anyways, the future is uncertain. I am expecting a bit of a culture shock returning to the States after being in Asia for almost two years, and will let you know how that turns out.
In the interim, check out this article. It is about forests in Indonesia, but China is doing the same thing to Cambodia. They are financing and building roads and bridges all over the country that will improve access to Cambodia’s natural resources and increase the market penetration of their goods. China no longer cuts down their own trees, so they rely on other nations for their appetite for wood. Bastards.
Also check out Neil Young’s new album, which you can hear for free in its entirety here. Solid rock coupled with dead on political commentary. I am not too excited to be exposed to America’s bullshit political environment, but oh well.