A year ago, I moved to a really charming corner of the world called Battambang, Cambodia. I had previously been there one other time for my first 10-day Vipassana meditation retreat, but this time around would be my first time actually living and experiencing a non-monastic life in Cambodia. I was excited to return and reconnect.
The move (although cut shorter than anticipated) also served a handful of new purposes:
1) My thesis and dissertation uses data from six different study-sites around the world, and Battambang, Cambodia happens to be one of them. I decided it was important to spend time in at least one of the study-sites so I could meet the researchers and organizations involved and watch my research numbers come alive.
2) Being a Vietnam junkie, I hadn’t spent a considerable amount of time in any other Southeast Asian country, even after living in that region of the world for a total of four years. I wanted to break out of that safe, convenient Vietnam bubble and try living in Cambodia for once.
And then so much more happened. I made some long-lasting local friends. I got a front row seat to Cambodia’s emerging art scene. I built professional relationships with so many other like-minded not-for-profit leaders. I discovered an even slower pace of life than in Hue, Vietnam (imagine that).
And to top it all off, my humanitarian soul-mate paid a really nurturing and apropos visit. At the time, we were both exhausted from our travels and craving stillness and reflection. We also found ourselves needing to process so many new human experiences that, instead of using our time together to work on our future business partnership, we settled into a rhythm of deep contemplation. After several months of non-stop travel, we finally listened to our minds and bodies, and they told us to stop moving full-speed and make room for stillness.
On one of our last days in Battambang together, we borrowed my host-father’s motorbike and drove silently into the countryside. I think the photos from this day really capture exactly how we were feeling at the time.