Wednesday, July 27, 2011

On the move.

via Fabien09 flickr

Within the last 2 days before my departure, my computer crashed, aking with it all my files , including a massive document I was attempting to complete. Also my camera is on the fritz. Oh luck.

In any case, I'm making my way to Almaty, Kazakhstan to meet Ethan. While I am super excited to see Kazakhstan, I am equally excited to see Xinjiang province, China, especially Kashgar, which I've been told has a massive, colorful bazaar. I'm hoping to find some nice textiles there.

This three/four week vacation is needed. Cambodia is too intense right now. I need a bit of breathing and thinking room. I feel as if I'm becoming pessimistic.

Last week, a friend, who I met in Mongolia two years ago, wrote to me. He gave me an update on his life, what has transpired in the past two years since our intense chat. He asked what came of my decision to try human rights lawyering in Asia.

Wow. I can't believe how much my life has changed in that period of time.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Distractions tonight

So it's been a really rough week or so. But, meh, I leave Cambodia for over 3 1/2 weeks on Tuesday. Maybe, just maybe, I'll come back to quieter, safer times. Crossing my fingers.

I have an evening in Bangkok, followed by a few long layovers in Chinese cities, as I slowly move West, until I finally make it to Almaty - from which I will then travel back into China, into Xinjiang province and, more interesting to me, Uighur territory.

Somehow, Kazakhstan and Western China don't exactly conjure up my shopping jones, but I can wish. My eye candy tonight: Swedish Hasbeens and these little wallets and bags, spotted by Becki. Lovely.


via Xooro

On Sundays, after the requisite Catholic mass, churchgoers would flood the grounds outside, where tamale and churro ladies peddled their wares to the hungry. My sisters and I weren't impervious to these treats. I always picked a churro, which was sweet and crunchy and wrapped in crisp, white paper.

I crave those treats now and then. Over the years, I've had dressed-up versions at much nicer venues than the church courtyard, but they have not come close to that simple treat.

This Xooro place, in Los Angeles, may be a worthy contender.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Checking in

via Seat 61

It's been a stressful week or so. There's so much I wish I could write, and I eventually will, but for now I cannot. Let's just say there's some "shady Cambodian political stuff" that is seriously impeding my work, including my research. Sometimes, you stare out at all the saffron-robed monks and the decaying French colonial buildings in this city, and you are lulled into forgetting that this place, in reality, is fairly closed. There is very little democratic space to do high-impact work.

On a lighter note, my friend, Jeanice, is in town for a few days. It's a bit surreal, her sitting with me in the tuk-tuk as we navigated the evening in Phnom Penh. It almost feels like two of my worlds colliding. But her arrival comes at a perfect time -- I need a friend to vent to, someone who knew me before Cambodia, before the whirlwind of work here.

Other things: Ethan is having a wonderful time in Europe, as can be expected. We meet in Almaty, Kazakhstan next week!! I cannot wait.

And . . . Vivian, the cat who adopted us, give birth to 3 orange tabby kittens in the corner shelf, in Clarisse's room. They are small, and furry, and already I am smitten.

Life is very full these days.

Friday, July 15, 2011

More baubles

via Una

Mociun. Pretty. At Una, where there is a summer sale.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Rainbow Lodge

I stayed here last weekend, at Rainbow Lodge, an eco-resort sitting on the southern edge of the Cardamom Mountains reserve. My friend and colleague, Dom, celebrated his 30th birthday, with friends who flew in from Australia and Holland.

One day, we took a walk through the jungle to the waterfalls. I learned that I really, really hate leeches.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

365 days, weeks #26-27

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.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Eye Candy, or Escaping the Heat in KL

Still in KL. Still waiting for my Kazakhstan visa. The embassy said to call them this afternoon.

It's very hot here, and I'm escaping the mid-day heat by working in our room. And by "working," I obviously mean staring at Louise Despont's works and reading up on the Railways issue.
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