On the patio

(I write mostly about patio cafes because I mostly write from patio cafes.)

I’m sitting on the terrace at the guest house – they have a free breakfast with unlimited coffee, which I have costed out at an approximate three-dollar value.  The sky is a pearly gray.  There are wind chimes and wooden mobiles hanging off the roof: parrots with flowers on their wings, hummingbirds with foxed grey feather tails, angel fish, a stand of metal pipes topped with a disco ball, and two swollen bees with torsos made of painted coconut shells.  The bees have black wings cut from old tires.  All of them are jangling in the wind.

There’s also a blue felt board showing some of the children in classrooms funded by the guest house’s affiliated NGO projects, but it’s dilapidated.  Most of the bulletin boards I’ve seen in Cambodian NGOs have been in poor repair – dusty, fly-spotted, out-dated, covered with faded notices in raddled laminate.

The light before the rainstorm makes everything clear and finely-drawn; the sun after the rain clears makes the colors glow against the fine mist steaming up from the ground.

Today I have to go to New Apsara Supermarket to conduct some interviews.  I’m enjoying my time here, but a routine like this doesn’t lend itself to this kind of writing. Go, listen, wear out, come back.  Temples here and there, fish soup and mounded white rice, black sesame ice cream, passion seeds grouping like frog eggs around the plastic straw, no happy hour on a work night, fruit shakes from the stands on Pub Street.

I haven’t been back to Angkor since Sunday; I spend most of my time up here looking down at the still green river or wandering around town in search of dinner.  Siem Reap is smoky at night, and the heat in the city center takes on an iron feel, less like weather and more like a furnace.  The lamps in the restaurants are covered with sarong cloth or gold paper, so the light feels glossy on your skin and the words on the page glow like charcoal.


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