Saturday, October 2, 2010

A new month

Hello, October.

On this day last year, I sat in my Portland apartment, frantically packing my bags for a last-minute trip to Beijing, scheduled to leave early the next morning. I had found very cheap airline tickets, and, needing no excuse for travel then, I was determined in Beijing to catch the Trans-Siberian Railway into Mongolia and Russia, eventually to St. Petersburg. In between jobs, I told myself I would take a few weeks tops, and then go back to my life in Portland. Quite straightforward.

But it didn't work out that way. I eventually made it to St. Petersburg and back to Portland, but not to stay and not to go back to my life there. Because on that epic train journey, many things changed. Out of that trip grew my decision to finally leave Portland (for a while). And, out of that trip grew the most peculiar decision to explore international human rights law positions abroad.

A year later, I find myself in Battambang, a sleepy town in northern Cambodia with an even sleepier river, flanked by decaying French architecture and wide palm-lined streets on which youth bike. This afternoon, I found myself wading through neon-green rice paddies, sludging through mud and trying to keep my balance, barefoot, under the weight of my bag, as I walked to the lake where, earlier this year, two children drowned while they attempted to collect clean drinking water for their evicted family (who should have been provided running water at the resettlement site!). This weekend, I will meet with families evicted, or soon to be evicted, by the Asian Development Bank-funded Railway Rehabilitation Program, a project aimed at rehabilitating Cambodia's 650+ km of derelict railways.

I've said this before, but I never saw this twist in the road. Even so, here I am.

So, what will October bring? Life these days, though stressful, seems full of so many possibilities. It is all very strange.


  1. It's amazing how one decision can change everything! Cheers to another year in Cambodia and all the adventure that goes with it! Thanks for sharing Jocy!

  2. Thanks, Delia. Isn't it is amazing how one decision can change everything? I wish you more wonderful adventures in Mauritania!

  3. A lot has happened within one year and it's interesting how one trip inspired you to do what you are doing now. I hope October brings you more the best of everything!

  4. Thanks, Tee, to you as well, in Bangkok, Hong Kong, or to wherever else you jetset!

  5. I had some questions after reading your post.

    1. I have heard from friends that Portland is not racially diverse. Seeing as you are a minority what was your experience living there of this?

    2. Why were the rice paddies neon-green?

    3. How was your friends' visit?

  6. Hello!

    1. Will write to you about that. Oh can I write to you about that!

    2. They weren't really, but they could have been because they were so bright and the sun so bright. It was beautiful out there in those fields, except for the resettlement site right next to it. And actually, I found out after writing this that the water in those rice paddies was stagnant and full of chemicals and the kids were getting all these rashes all over. But that's all the water there is, so people drink that stuff. Oh goodness.

    3. She's here later this week!!! I cannot wait. I'll do the usual neighborhood genocide museum thing and then some lighter stuff.

    How goes your trip planning?

  7. In a good way, I hope? I'm off to dinner now, but I'll write. I hope the class is going well.

  8. i think this qualifies as an anniversary of definitely took your life on a whole new road with last year's trip, and look at you now! congratulations, friend :)

  9. Becki, do you remember that afternoon? We were meeting for coffee at Vivace, and I had just found really cheap tickets to Beijing, departing the next morning. And I told you about them, and you said,"Why not? What else do you have planned for tomorrow?" And then we got our pedicures and I rushed home to pack frantically. Thanks, dear friend.


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