Monday, February 27, 2006

Spout the Party Line

You know how when you're travelling you hit that one place that you hate. And then you come back and you're telling people how much you dislike Morocoo and they go on and on about how much they loooooved Morocco. Well, Willi's blog reminded me of how much I disliked Cambodia. (as a side note, it also reminded me of how much i liked Willi)

From the very second I had to get on to that tiny 4-seats-across plane I knew I was in trouble. I was at the end of a six-month internship, six very long months away from friends, family and anything that reminded me of home, and I decided to take the opportunity to visit Angkor Wat. Ultimately, perhaps, a mistake. I would have been happier spending my last days on the beach or wandering the streets of Bangkok.

Cambodia was horrible for me. The people were friendly, sure, but only because I was a huge, fat, walking dollar sign to them. It's bad enough being a fat, white, single girl travelling in Asia...that's a whole entry and a half on it's own...but to be constantly reminded that I am also a selfish, wealthy capitalist...well, it proved too much for me. On the one hand I don't want to give them my money...after all I do work in the arts, it's not like I'm made of money at home. But on the other hand that essential MEC backpack I'm toting whilst trekking around these ancient ruins would cost them a year's salary.

And the backpackers...to see myself reflected in all those dreadlocks and tie-dye. Every step I took across Angkor was tainted for me. I couldn't really talk about it to anyone because ultimately you can't complain about travelling, you can complain about being ripped off or the spicy food making you sick or being forced to eat fish paste by stuffy business men with only the best intentions. But you can't complain about the whole thing, it makes people mad. Who are you to not enjoy this experience denied to so many?

An so, ultimately I left Cambodia feeling dirty. And whenever people ask me about Angkor Wat with that knowing sparkle in their eyes waiting for me to lavish them with stories about how great, how majestic, how life-changing it was....well, I smile politely and spout the party line while trying to push that nasty aftertaste back down to my toes where it belongs.

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