Closure on Cambodia

what i miss and don't miss about cambodia

The comparison game has started and is off running like a racehorse. It’s a kind of insanity, really. What I had and what life was back in Cambodia versus my new life in Thailand.

On the other hand, I suppose it’s human nature. Surely, I’ve done this a zillion times with people, places and possessions. Why the mind likes to rob us of our present moment and peace, I’ll never know.

I have to stop myself from ‘the grass is greener’ mindset. Sometimes, I wistfully think about what I want that Cambodia offered forgetting that when I lived there I did the same with Thailand.

In fact, I returned to Thailand at least once a year when I lived in Cambo. And now I’m thinking of visiting Cambo to buy things and see friends. How strange, how unexpected, how annoying. Am I never satisfied? Or have I finally realized, I mean, down in my bones recognized, that every place has its pros and cons?

Obviously, I knew this on an intellectual level. Well, maybe not so obviously. Obviously, that knowledge was kicking around the ‘ol noggin’, but obviously it was happy to kick around like a pinball in a pinball machine. Or maybe I finally hit upon the high score.

How obvious.

26 thoughts on “Closure on Cambodia

    1. Hahaha. Yeah, I can imagine. I often hear that when expats return home whether it is for holiday or permanently that family and friends don’t care to hear about your experiences abroad. But I think it’s educational 🙂 You’re doing them a service!


    1. Yes, some days are better than others. But lately, it’s been driving me crazy, this comparing. I think I’m over the worst of it. Then again, something new might crop up and I’ll be beating back the past with a stick.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. We have been away from Thailand for two years and there are times we still go down the rabbit hole. I did the same thing making a list of what I didn’t miss and what I missed. It turns out my list of what I didn’t miss was much longer. I go to the fresh market here and revel in my choices of onions!

    When we visit family in Japan we come back to Portugal and compare, wishing things were more …..whatever. Our family came for a visit from Japan to Coimbra and they were comparing. I think the thing that bothered them the most was that the trains in Portugal were not on time like in Japan, even though we only waited 5 or 6 minutes, that is an eternity in Japan train time. lol In Japan there was recently a train conductor that lost his job because he was 45 seconds EARLY! No joke! Because it is early, it also leaves early and people missed the train and were late for work.

    You are human and as such, too hard on yourself. As always…I send you giant hugs!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. But Lin!!! I’m supposed to be perfect by now!!!

      I think this whole comparing thing surprised me. Both times. I was surprised to discover that Thailand was more developed than I imagined when I was in Cambodia. And now I’m surprised that Cambodia has some things that I miss now that I’m in Thailand!

      But what I realized by the end of the post (and perhaps I needed to make it more clear) is that I feel quite lucky to have stepped through a different door and now I have both countries to appreciate.


  2. Comparison will always be inevitable. I think after a while of living somewhere we just get used to some things and feel comfortable. Maybe a few months down the track you might not miss what you had in Cambodia so much…though the feelings for it and what it meant to you will still always be there. With moving and really any kind of change, there is the feeling that day to day life will never ever be exactly the same.

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    1. I think I’m over the worst of it, but you never know. Part of it had to do with feeling unsettled, the upward climb to get where we were in Cambo.

      It was important to appreciate SR though. I did and I didn’t, if that makes sense. And I honestly thought that door was closed when I left, but now I feel like, ‘yeah, I could go back. I could see friends. I could appreciate it and see what’s changed.’


  3. Lani I am happy for you as you seem to be at a better place now. It is natural to miss your friends and surroundings but change is the way of life, which offers opportunities for growth…so vital for us 🙂

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  4. This is obviously human nature (obviously). No, but really, I think it takes a whole lifetime to learn not to compare, because no place is perfect. It just doesn’t exist on earth. Everywhere will be slightly better and slightly worse than anywhere else. But we’re human, and humans make judgments. That’s just what we do. I like this, I don’t like this.

    Making lists is good. That helps a lot, and can help focus on what’s good now. I’m doing the same thing with being back in the US. I miss a lot of things about Korea, but I love a lot of things about being back home. But I won’t ever not miss those things, you know? Yeah, you know.

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    1. I noticed that my ‘don’t miss’ list was longer than my ‘miss’ side, but that the things that I missed were bigger and more important things, like people.

      That being said, I’m so appreciative of being in a place that feels safer, has sidewalks and is a much more developed country.

      And I can always go back to visit! That’s what really struck me about this reflection. I have a new place that I have called home.


  5. I think it’s unavoidable to compare places you know well. I still do it all the time with China and Spain, and I’m always missing things of one place when I am in the other. Oh well…

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    1. I know as expats we can’t help ourselves 😛 Which is one of the big reasons why I like having an American partner. We can commiserate together. Hahahaha.


  6. “Why the mind likes to rob us of our present moment and peace, I’ll never know.”

    Hah, I wonder that all the time, too! I was just lamenting to Mark how sick I am of winter and questioning why I’m living here when it feels unbearable about half the year. But then I remember, there is no such thing as ‘perfect’ place with perfect conditions. Even if I did live by the ocean (my dream), I’d probably get sick of something there too (too much sand, maybe? lol)… such is human nature.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Perfect places, like perfect jobs or people seem to exist only in the mind. I think if we’d accept this sooner, we’d be a lot more content. I’m hoping with this latest upheaval the reminder will have lasting power.

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      1. Very true! I think being aware that perfection exists only in our minds is a huge step towards the acceptance. It’s like what I tell myself every day, “check yourself before you wreck yourself” lol

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  7. I can totally relate. Grass is greener syndrome is hard. Sometimes I think I should just stop making excuses and just LIVE wherever I may be. Life is about being in the moment.

    But hey, that’s what vacations are for–in my book. You can still go to Cambo quite easily from Thailand. Often times, those visits back to old stomping grounds will make you realize why you left. Despite my longings for Shanghai, I realized that it’s no longer the place I should (or need) to be. Sure, I’ll visit it, but I’m glad I could finally come to the realization that it’s in the past.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Whether I wanted it to happen or not, Cambodia affected me. I feel like a changed person, certainly a different person than had I just remained in Thailand.

      Sometimes I wonder ‘what if’ and then I think, ‘stop it’, you can’t go back and even if you could, you’d probably regret it.

      Yes, that’s what vacations are for! I’ve gained a fuller understanding of two cultures, two countries and two peoples and I’m finally truly grateful.


  8. 100% can relate to this, Lani. I compare my life in Bahrain vs. the UK often, and like you, it took me a little while to realise that there were tonnes of pros and cons for both! I think it’s natural. What gets you in a pickle is when you fixate on it way too much.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It just surprised me because I thought when we left Cambodia, I was DONE. I had been frustrated about certain aspects of my life there, there was not nearly as perfect as I wanted it. But then we left and then I felt that twinge of ‘awww, I miss this and that’ and I’m like WHAT?

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Having read your blog, I remember some of those pros and cons of your life in Cambodia. Some powerful pros and cons. Enjoy the memories of that part of your life.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, thank you. I feel like I’m starting to realize that Cambodia was more special than I recognized. Sometimes the struggle-y places can be the most rewarding.

      Liked by 1 person

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