I miss this.


This: a woman cooking food in her outdoor restaurant in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, over open fire, in a wok that has probably never been cleaned, a canopy being held down with spare string and concrete and metal castoffs, and a tuk-tuk driver trying to get your attention in case you maybe want to go on a tour of the city.  How many drivers did we reject, how many did we ignore?  How many plates of fried rice and noodles did we eat, doing the mental calculations to realize that we were only spending fifty cents or a dollar on a meal, and laughing at the difference in expectations – they perhaps thinking they were cheating these stupid foreigners out of money by charging us four times what the locals paid, and us thinking we were getting a brilliant bargain?  And how many smiles did we exchange, how many thank-yous did we say in local languages, forgetting them as soon as we went to another country?  Oh life on the road, you were so difficult so much of the time, and yet sometimes staying stationary starts to feel stagnant when it’s winter in Scotland and you realize that on this Cambodian street it’s still sunny and probably 30 degrees centigrade and if you ask nicely, she will make your rice with extra chilis and not charge you anything extra.

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