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Day 55 – Searing in Sihanoukville

April 27, 2010

Dateline: Phnom Penh and Sihanoukville, Cambodia – Tuesday, April 27, 2010

It feels hotter here. I can’t tell if it’s my imagination or if it’s real. I haven’t seen a thermometer. Even if I did, I’d be hard-pressed to ascribe the number any meaning—everything here is in Centigrade.

I do know that when I sat down at the internet café to run through some work e-mail, I was soaked. All I’d done was walk down the street.

Sihanoukville is Cambodia’s largest beach destination. It took $4.50 and four and one half hours to get here. It seemed like the bus spent one hour of that getting out of Phnom Penh. Maneuvering city streets is a lot harder when you’re the size of a small whale. Much better to be one of the swarm of motorbikes. As we rolled out, I realized this was only the second time I’d gone through the streets in an enclosed vehicle. I miss the motorbike already.

When you’re in an enclosed vehicle like this, A/C seems like a necessity. Without it, you’re in a giant moving greenhouse. A human powered sauna. You’re steeping in each other’s essence.

On a motorbike, the world is your air conditioner. If you’re sweating, you’ll dry off fast enough once you get moving. It’s like you’re standing in front of a powerful electric fan. I don’t give wind chill much thought. Usually when it’s provided in the weather report it’s in the context of, “It’s cold today. And because of the wind, it’s going to feel even colder!”

Here in the tropics, I’ve meditated on its wondrous properties. The difference between sitting in a hot, still room and a hot room with a fan is the difference between sitting on a bonfire and taking a dip in an icy lake. The difference between sanity and Courtney Love.

I bore the heat long enough to give my passport to a travel agency to process my Vietnam visa. A few dollars service charge saved me the pain of trucking myself down to the local Vietnamese consulate and sitting in line. Being a rich Westerner occasionally has its privileges.

With that, I melted back to my room to write and sit under the electric fan. I still wasn’t right on the inside. Oddly enough, I’d narrowed down the suspects to two of the most Western restaurants I’d eaten at the day before I fell ill. Life isn’t without its ironies, is it? I’d have been better off eating street food.

Early tomorrow I hop on a boat for an overnight scuba dive trip in the Thailand Gulf. I expect it to be less spectacular than the diving in the Andaman Sea. It will be fun, regardless. There are few things in life I’ve felt that I’ve been meant to do–diving is one of them (the others are reading, writing, eating, and playing a shitload of video games; diving is by far the most interesting).

That means a two-day break. Expect my return to be with a vengeance. My photo trigger finger hasn’t been used in days.

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