Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Dispatch from Cambodia, 7 // Used Books & Motorbikes

I plan to head to Vietnam by bus near the end of this month, so I sought out the used books stall on the top floor of the Sovanna Mall. I had only planned on getting perhaps two books, but of course by the end I had six books in hand, and finally walked away with four books for eight US dollars:
Obasan by Joy Kogawa
The Motorcycle Diaries by Che Guevara
Eating Chinese Food Naked by Mei Ng
Asian Americans by Joann Lee
Oh, hello UCI.
The last time I traveled far from home for an extended period of time was in 2009. I spent most of that January in Canada, and snow kept me indoors instead of heat. I drank tea and wrote flash fiction daily. This time, I’m reading a lot, drinking packaged coffee, writing a little poetry, and by turns making my 2-year-old second-cousin cry and sing her A-B-C’s.

Today I leave for Setbo, where my grandparents are from. My grandmother and grandfather grew up on opposite sides of Tonle Bassac, I’m told, and both came from well-to-do families. When they married, the river was crowded with boats bearing gifts and fruit and fish.

The Bassac
I’ll be staying with another aunt, at the farmhouse where I learned to eat duck embryos last month. I look forward to even cooler breezes through the trees, bigger and more plentiful mosquitoes, and trying to ride my uncle-in-law’s motorbike less awkwardly.
My dad being my training wheels. My mom is off somewhere worried to death that I'll crash.

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