I finally have some time to catch up on blogging and to read my favorite blogs. The past two weeks have been an intense, stressful, wonderful blur. Nearly a week in Kuala Lumpur, I managed to get my Kazakhstan visa after 4 visits to the embassy and 5 phone calls to the consulate.
While in Kuala Lumpur, I made a final stop at Topshop and waved farewell (for now) to Ethan before jumping on a plane to Phnom Penh, where I then packed up for a research trip to Sihanoukville, the community that, in many ways, spurred my work on this project nearly a year ago. This trip, despite the abundance of post-work evenings spent eating barbequed seafood on the beach, despite the bright orange sunsets, was the toughest yet. There were disagreements among the team, and my role shifted quickly and repeatedly from leader to diplomat, and back.
The morning after we completed the field research we were on a minibus to Kep and Chamcar Bei for a wedding in the country. We followed a bumpy dirt road into the rural countryside for 30+ minutes until we reached a small house tucked away in the middle of nowhere. The entire scene was surreal, the green backdrop and wooden home reminiscent of the Italian countryside, except there was a giant elephant there and lots of Cambodian dancing. The whole wedding, a veritable Who's Who of human and land rights academics and lawyers in the region, lasted until the evening.
And the next morning, I left for Koh Kong to celebrate my friend Dom's birthday. More on that later.