Happy Mother’s Day
Dear mums and dads,
8th of March is known in many parts of the world as a Mother's Day and International Women's Day. As I read the news, my heart sank for mums and dads in Ukraine. As I can't change the reality, to change my experience, I had to draw on the strength of my mindset. I drew from the positive memory of the Mother's Day I spent in Cambodia many years ago to help me manage the heavy negative emotions (I can't even find the right word to capture such emotions!) I have had.
On the 8th of March 2017, I was waking up that morning in a new white room, looking at myself in a double bed size mirror next to the bed. I thought I was having a dream where I had an identical twin sisters but soon realised that it was my own reflection. In some ways I wish the dream was real, so that I may have more childhood memories of playing, fighting, crying and laughing. Laughing is what caught my attention today as I was sipping a freshly brewed coffee hearing the joyful laughs of a boy and girl at a carnival tent nearby. There is something special about the sound of kids’ laughing, something magical. It is innocent and it is priceless. Perhaps it is to do with the fact that I have lived in cities for too long where so often, I have seen kids with a small or big colourful screen that they are so occupied with, their laugh becomes a ghost that sometimes I thought no longer exists.
After a coffee, my partner and I went on a long motorbike ride around Bokor National Park, a high plateau in the South of Cambodia. Little did I know that this adventure would be a ‘goodly weird’ one! It took us about 50 minutes to get to the high point of the mountain. The entrance fee was super generous, 2000 Riel (50 cent) for a motorbike. The security guards looked so healthy, happy and speak very good English, one of the very first good weird things that impressed me. As we reached the high point, there was another ticket check point (to make sure we paid 2000 Riel! That is an amazing effort). We rode on a five star road which was absolutely hole-less and bump-less, so smooth that I found myself struggling to stay awake at the back of the bike! The second impressively weird surprise. We rode through a cool breeze in the sunshine and sometimes through the clouds themselves, so visible and enclosing that we noticed little and big hands dangling out from car’s windows mimicking the flying birds.
Hordes of people came for a picnic on this national public holiday, carrying yummy Kep crab, food and drink and of course Kampot’s popular king of fruit, durian. We passed many beautiful, shady and panoramic looking spots, and yet so many cars and families stopped right next to the main roads for their picnic. Another weird thing that I still can not understand. The Bokor plateau is a place like no other place I have been. It is a beautiful land on top of a mountain where you can find things that you would not imagine like an old colonial church made of dark red stone; a spooky ruined casino where once upon a time people like me could not even have had a glimpse of it; a resort with big white Chinese looking lions at the entrance with red liquid dripping out of their mouth like blood, with so many hotel rooms and a tiny casino that offers delicious cakes and a hot latte served in an unusual glass I’ve never seen before; a beautiful temple over looking a Vietnamese Island and an ocean, so charming that with rubbish and people everywhere, it still didn’t prevent us from feeling high in energy; a camping ground on a dam site packed with tents about a few feet in between (to get there, the journey itself was a weird one as we had to go on this well made cement road that has so many other side roads linked to the main one, it was like riding in an established estate except there was nothing around but trees); brand new big buildings; and old strange looking buildings crumbling around in random spots. It has such a weird diversity yet offered such a goodly weird day!
Our final stop was at a pee-coloured waterfall where we enjoyed once again, the magical laugh of kids. We watched boys and girls having a blast playing without any colourful screens. A little boy in front of us was held by this mum who tried to give him a wash in the tiny cascades at the top of the falls. He soon moved closer to the spot where water fell with a splash. Having his tiny body under that water splash made it look just like he was under a massive waterfall! His laugh, no word could capture how happy it sounds. At first I thought, the happy laugh came from the joy of playing with water but then the longer I observed, the clearer I got to see that it was the joy of playing with his mum! The laugh that infected his mum’s joyful smile which in turned trigger his joy – the circle of laughter that made me wish Mother’s Day never ends.
From a goodly weird day on a goodly weird plateau!