|Mad hatters at a tea party|
Shortly after returning back to the US, Nepal was hit by a large earthquake. Thankfully friends I had over there all survived and it turned out that the actual damage in Kathmandu wasn’t nearly as bad as initially feared. That said, the damage in the hillside areas outside the city was devastating. I was contacted by my friend, Amelia Hillary, about a week after the first quake and was on a plane the next day to assist up in the Helambu region just north east of the capital. I got to work with some great people and feel like we did some really meaningful work as we assisted in getting medical teams out to remote areas and toward the end began distributing corrugated metal sheets that could be used as shelter in the quickly approaching monsoon. I was also there for the second earthquake, which was a bit sketchy. After 10 days in country I was back on a plane to return to the world of pipeline engineering.
|The remote village of Tarkegyang in Helambu shortly after the April earthquake in Nepal|
Then I was stuck back in the “real” world again. As the last post in this blog should have made evident, this is not an ideal situation for me. In fact I more often think of living here not as the “real” world any more and more as the Gilded Cages of the Gods, a phrase I’d be happy to elaborate on another time. In short it refers to something a monk in Bhutan said to me referring to how living in the rich countries of the west is much like the realm of the gods in Buddhist cosmology. How this realm was a more difficult place to reach enlightenment due to a number of factors; most keen being a lack of awareness of death, and the ease with which one can continuously satiate desire without confronting it, without understanding the other side of the coin. While the idyllic neighborhoods in the suburbs are paradise to some, they appear simply as cages to myself; bound by bars of mortgages, car payments, and working unfulfilling jobs to pay down those debts and using the excess to purchase things that we probably don’t really want or even need. Worst of all are the long hours and the early mornings combined with commutes that sap any energy that might be left to do meaningful things in the little time that is left at the end of the day. So with a combination of lack of energy, and not having time to do anything particularly interesting, I again didn’t have anything particularly interesting worth writing about.
|Buddhist Wheel of life, the realm of the gods is depicted in the upper segment of the confined part of the wheel.|
Then there was the issue of living in the same place as Hermione, who was still in London. It started becoming clear that working in the UK’s civil service program was not going to be a fulfilling life endeavor for her, so this being the case we were back to looking for a country where we could both live in once her current assignment was done. We decided to focus our search to places in South East Asia, Southern Europe and possibly some parts of Central Asia. After some searching through the summer she landed an exciting job with a well established NGO in Cambodia that was doing some really interesting work. After a brief stop here in the US she arrived in Phnom Penh and has started setting up a life there.
|The temples of Angkor; Cambodia's National Monument|
(As seen by me back in 2010)
Excellent warm climate ü
Healthy Societal Approach to work/life balance ü
Low cost of living ü
Beautiful Beaches and natural settings ü
Buddhist Culture ü (Buddhist cultures tend to be more tolerant and easy going)
Nearby other places we’d like to travel to ü
Interesting Expat community ü
Excellent availability of fresh ingredients for cooking ü
Liquor is plentiful, diverse and exceptionally cheap ü
Exceptionally easy visas ü
|Phnom Penh Street Market|
After nearly a year and a half living outside of Asia, it’s time to go back, and I can’t wait.