I’ve been waiting to make this announcement for a while and now that we’re about a month away from the big move I’ve decided to let the tiger out of the bag. I’m excited and scared. I’m looking forward to it and I’m afraid of what we’ll find. We have no choice and yet we always have a choice.
A year ago the military took over the government and I’ve done my best to keep this blog free of politics and opinions regarding the country I currently reside in and its best that I keep it this way. However, there have been escalating, confusing and continuing visa changes that have made it difficult or impossible for foreigners to stay.
As a result, our time has come to leave.
For the past year we’ve been sweating every time we go in for our 90 day check-in at Immigration so we knew this day was probably coming. It’s okay. We’ve had plenty of time to talk about the next step which is more than what others had under heartache and duress.
The funny thing is we know of two coworkers who are moving to Cambodia around the same time we are, as well. And I’m sure there are plenty more that have made the move since the junta took the wheel. I remember when I was back in CM months ago, sitting on the back of my friend’s motorbike while she pointed out which businesses were moving to Cambodia because they are sick of paying the police bribes.
I know bribes exist in Cambodia, too, but unlike Thailand foreigners can own businesses and property there. I’m already finding it strange to look up hotels to find Westerners running the place. And I’m not saying one is better or worse than the other, I can’t, until I see for myself how the other side lives. Even then, I think I will always be in the shadows collecting information.
The big reason why we’re moving specifically to Cambodia is because visas are much easier to obtain and you have the freedom to do what you want (so to speak). Thailand is on the other end of the spectrum and it’s been super stressful trying to stay ahead of the laws and changes that make no sense to us. My b/f’s education visa has become hella expensive, in more ways than price alone, so that we had to take a look at what we were doing and decide: is it worth it to stay? And what’s to prevent the powers-that-be from changing the rules yet again?
So right now I’m in the “don’t overthink it” and “collecting information” phase. This stage requires a balance of living in the moment and planning ahead. Scouring the Internet for Cambodian bloggers, specifically ones in Siem Reap has been an unfruitful undertaking. There are TONS of I-went-to–Siem-Reap-for-3-days kinds of posts, and yes, I found the one big site about moving to Cambodia, but that’s about the extent of it.
I have found lots of outdated blogs, negative forums and articles on the vices of Cambodia. And at this point I’m not sure of the value of Siem Reap FB groups, but I’m trying to do some work.
But like I said, I’m not over-trying. I like life to be filled with some surprises, too. The Internet is amazing, yes, but I think reality is different than Internet-fantasy. People over-saturate their photos in Photoshop to the point where I feel like I’m not looking at the real place. Folks edit their lives to sounds super awesome or sometimes they take out what they don’t think will be interesting and yet it is interesting. Plus, I don’t want to see Angkor Wat before I see Angkor Wat. I think this is why I don’t like watching movie previews.
My b/f has been there. Six years ago. He liked it, but we know six years is too long and visiting is very different than living someplace. Hopefully, wanting to live there is a good place to start. A friend of mine did the eyebrow-raise when I told him I am moving to Cambodia, but had never been there. I don’t see this as anything brave, bold or stupid because for every person who plans their path as carefully as possible, there are the impulsive ones who do end up almost at the same point as the former.
Things are never what you expect anyway. Maybe they are for you, but I’m horrible at predicting what my life is going to be like. I thought my life in CR was going to be great. It hasn’t been great. It’s been alright with lots of stress. It’s been moving three fucking times because we’ve had the worst luck with finding a decent place to call home.
My enemies (You have enemies? Yes, I do. Every good superhero has enemies. I’ve had them since the 2nd grade, yo.) will enjoy hearing about how hard I’ve had it here, but the good thing is I got a lot of work done. I finished my book which was a major accomplishment considering how long I dragged that monster around the room. And I’m happy to report I’m up to 11 Amazon reviews! Woo hoo! Who are these people? I love them!
So, it’s a fresh start in a new country that has really got me thinking about what I’m excited for and what I’m afraid of. Right now, I’m motivated to get rid of all of the stuff I’ve acquired throughout the years. Whenever friends leave, I’m the one that volunteers, “give me the stuff you can’t get rid of” because I want to help and be nice. As a result, I have a lot of crap.
I mean, 14 pairs of shoes? Do I need 14 pairs? No. Do I wear 14 pairs? Nope. I think being heavily laden with stuff has prevented me from moving even more often. Seriously, when our current living situation was unbearable, I didn’t want to deal with the hassle of moving again, but if I had less stuff, I would have been completely up for it.
In many ways, moving out of country has given me the reason I’ve been looking for to finally shed some pounds and return to the minimal lifestyle that I originally wanted to be on. Since I’ve always moved frequently, I’ve never had much stuff and I like that. Then I stayed in Thailand for years and while I have far less than what my cohorts in the US have, I have too much, more than I need and more than is necessary.
Here it is, if it doesn’t fit in my suitcase or carryon, it’s not coming. !!! I don’t trust the mail system to send anything and even if I did, will I really need what I think I’ll need? And if we can’t find sustainable work in Siem Reap, we’ll have to move again. I don’t like the creed, “hope for the best, but expect the worst,” but in this case, I have to – and I want to be light again.
These days I wake up and start thinking of what needs to be given away and what I want to keep. It’s almost meditative and that’s why I’m excited to just do it. If I had to, I could have just woken up one day and started piling up what I wanted to keep and so on, but thinking about this has been rather good for me. I’ve been gaining better ideas of who should have what and massaging my mind towards letting it all go. Going minimal, I think will be strangely therapeutic – or it will send me over the edge of the shopping cart grabbing things like a rabid consumer when I’m settled in the Reap.
To be honest, I wish I had gotten rid of more stuff when I was in the States. Mostly clothes, really, because by now they are moth-eaten I’m sure. Clothes will be the challenge here, as well, but I keep telling myself if it doesn’t fit well, if I don’t wear it, if I don’t love it, if it’s getting ratty, it needs to be given away. I’ve already given away expensive dresses that I hardly wore. That’s one empty drawer.
Thailand and Cambodia I think are similar countries, so it shouldn’t be a big adjustment. The obvious changes are Cambodia uses US currency and Khmer isn’t a tonal language like Thai, therefore my b/f has been blissfully learning the language. I’ll start with Khmer today since it’s June 1st and I’m participating in Zen Habit’s 30 day learning challenge (I didn’t sign up though). 10 minutes. I can do 10 minutes, right?
Cambodia is grittier than Thailand, too. Where we will live should be pretty damn touristic and safe, but I’ve heard about the power outages, the heat (will miss the cooler weather of the North!), the uncouth characters, the street food poison and scams and yes this all sounds like Thailand, but I know Thailand! This is what I’m scared about, the unknown, but I know that’s part of the adventure (if you can call it that) and the exhilaration.
I speak functional Thai. I know, generally what to expect since I’ve been here for about 5 years. I don’t know why, but I’m trying to think about all the things that I take for granted here because those things will be different in a new country. But maybe the transition will be easier than I imagine. And writing about it has been like talking to you and I can feel myself getting it all out and calming down.
I’m going to miss my speakers. I can buy new speakers.
And who knows, we might be back in Thailand sooner than we think. Maybe things will loosen up again, maybe my b/f can get on a different visa after we’ve been away. It’s hard to say. I still have the option of getting my Thai citizenship. My family will always be here so I’ll be back for visits. But I’m fairly certain I don’t want to live in the North again (winter is coming). I’d love to go to the East and experience Issan culture, which is essentially Lao culture.
Yes, I’ve watched The Killing Fields. And my Cambodian friend D has encouraged me not to move to her home country which I found discouraging until I thought about putting the shoe on the other foot. Would I recommend anyone to move to America? No, but you know, it depends. Plus, things are never what you think they will be anyway.
Here’s to the unknown. We’re going in…