It's another Friday morning in Phnom Penh. I had a lovely morning. Heather and I made it to another 6:30am yoga session (I'm so proud of myself), where friend and amazing-woman Lee was also in attendance. After the yoga session, Lee and I shared coffee and muffins at Brown Cafe. We chatted for several hours and were later joined by her colleague, who shares my love of brogues, vintage eyeglasses, brightly patterned scarves, and weathered cognac -hued briefcases. (Those interests, especially among colleagues, are so rare in Cambodia, and such a treat!)
It's also the beginning of the Pchum Ben holiday, a (for me) nine-day holiday that empties the streets of Phnom Penh and creates longer than usual travel routes to the rest of the country. This is a time for Cambodians to visit their families in the provinces and to offer prayers at the local pagodas. Last year, Connie and Spence visited me to find a near empty city, with very few restaurants open. That feels so long ago.
This year, Ethan and I are taking a short trip to Bangkok, Thailand. We leave tonight. I'm going to search for beauty products at the shiny malls and hunt for items at Topshop. But mostly, we're going to eat, and wander. I'm not taking the entire holiday, however, as I need to write. (Stress levels just shot up.)
Oh, but this post was intended to be about yurts - or gers, as Mongolians say.
In August, after Kashgar, we traveled south to Karakul in western China, to a Kyrgystan lakeside village that sits about eight hours from the Pakistan border. As we drove along, the scenery climbed up and up, dotted only with road construction and military checkpoints, where we were questioned about our nationality and our intent to travel through the region. Prior to the Kashgar incident, one could travel independently to Karakul via a cheap bus ride and then find a family to stay with. That was not the case at the time of our travels. We were required to hire a driver and to purchase a permit, which we flagged about at each and every checkpoint.
Once at the lake, I realized that the elevation was much higher than I had expected - I had slight altitude sickness. It was also much cooler - I slept under 6 thick blankets, though I was severely underdressed (skinny jeans, button down shirt, 3.1 Lim bag, scarf). The yurt smelled of camel or sheep, or some smell that brought me back to my travels in Mongolia.
And, the morning after: bright and crisp, with an errant goat making trouble. I snuck out of the yurt and drank all the images in.