Monday, July 19, 2010

Early bird

I stumbled out of bed at five o'clock this morning, struggling to shake the sleep and soreness from my limbs and cursing my decision to attend the early morning exercise sessions at Olympic Stadium. With more haste than thought, I threw on black leggings and a t-shirt, the one Adrian sent me in his care package from Los Angeles, and ran down the two flights of stairs to the court yard, fully aware that sauntering down the street to my office, to meet Rachel and Vanessa, in such form-fitting clothing, might be slightly inappropriate and very un-Khmer. I did so anyway. Laziness trumped.

In the soft morning light just before sunrise, Phnom Penh is an entirely different city. The streets are not teeming with the movement of tuk tuk drivers and moto traffic. There are no strange, offensive smells competing for your attention. Instead, there is a delicate veil of stillness suspended over the city, cloaking the ache of reality, transient and engulfing, blighted, this morning, only by the sight of families walking and the occasional egg vendor pushing his cart on the cool, jagged pavement.

In our shared tuk tuk, we followed a friend's recommendation to take the entrance "near the smelly lake." Once on foot, we entered the stadium, making our way up the hill to where the line of silhouettes moved, in unison, against the brightening sky, their arms and legs outstretched. And as we walked among, and eventually joined, the crowd, I was struck by the music pouring from the speakers and echoing against the concrete steps of the stadium, and the wide age range of people who moved with the beat, and the spectators drinking in the crisp morning air, and the city's landscape unfolding below me in splashes of soft orange and blue, its wats (pagodas) lit with sun. I was struck by the richness of it all.

And then, we had a pork and rice breakfast and a glass of lime juice.


  1. I wish I had the motivation to get up that early to work out!

  2. It was great fun, but I was so tired all day.


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