Monday, May 30, 2016

Cambodia, Day 21

Last full day in Cambodia, first day of transitioning back to life in the United States. We started at a place that opened its first shop in Phnom Penh a week or two ago, to fortify ourselves for a day of window and souvenir shopping in the downtown markets: 
I decided not to get anything, because I'd had my fill of K2 years ago when I lived in Georgia. But then someone brought around a tray of plain glazed doughnuts that were just milliseconds out of the oven, and I caved and took one. Krispy Kreme's iced doughnuts from the display case are nothing special, but their fresh doughnuts are what made them deservedly famous.

We then spent two hours poking around the Russian Market, and I spent money on two things. First, I bought some fresh durian and went out to the parking lot to try it:

It was tasty! Fruity, and a bit tart, and a bit sweet, and all in all very enjoyable. I ate two fairly large pieces of it, shared a bit with Sarah and a larger portion with Sway, and later handed the rest off to Chloe and Joe to sample. There is now officially nothing about Khmer food that scares me.

Back in the marketplace, I took Don Brewster's advice and stocked up on Amok Seasoning.

The ingredients really aren't that exotic; it's just lemongrass, garlic, galangal and kaffir lime peel. I bought enough to make a bunch of batches, and after they run out, I can experiment with making my own seasoning mix from fresher ingredients. Since chicken amok is a pretty common variant, I'm thinking I might actually be able to take a few chicken thighs and whip it up in the crock pot. I might even use it for burrito filling. I am genuinely excited at the thought of Cambodian freezer burritos.

Not much was said, at least within my earshot, about more meaningful echoes of the past couple of weeks. It's still too recent, and I get the feeling most folks are letting the experience settle a bit before they make any bold claims about it. For right now, I feel good about paying attention to frivolous things, at least for a couple of days. The reflection and insight will amount to a lot more if we aren't in too much of a hurry and don't try to force them.

I'll also add, I'm already experiencing a bit of an emotional letdown, and I don't think I'm alone: there've been several episodes of mutual grumpiness today. I hope it winds down, or at least doesn't escalate, or the travel home could be even more wearying than it's already going to be. We had about an hour's talk before dinner about reentry, about the adjustment struggles and the way to tell the story to people who ask. Now I'm planning to look up some combination of Josh, Krista and Erik for lunch sometime soon, so I can pass along my stories and compare notes with them. I'm hoping that'll bring helpful perspective from people who understand, but who are not on this team. This team is made of some wonderful people, but three weeks of this much togetherness is quite enough. It'll be nice to work through some of this with other folks.

Time to pack, sleep, and then say goodbye to Cambodia. In the morning, we're headed home.

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