Postponing Phnom Penh.

I fully intended to get home from Cambodia, pack up my bags, turn around and take a job as a journalist in Phnom Penh and live out my dream of working as a reporter in a third world country with shitty infrastructure.

Except that I didn’t. A couple nights after I got back, I went out to visit some friends and I was asked, “Hey, do you want a job?”
Uh… Yes? Yes. It’s summer, and my work is going to take hiatus, whatcha got?
And the next day, I just so happened to become employed.

Cambodia was already starting to feel a long ways away, and also… it was monsoon season. And I did nearly die by crocodile*, so maybe I could just put that move off for a bit… And really, postponing lifelong dreams? Nothing new to me.

So I’ve been lulled back into Chiang Mai. Something I was very intent on not doing.
But it’s not so bad, good friends, great weather, pretty scenery—and I live up the road from the best Caesar salad in the city. An important thing, I assure you.

Not so horrible.
*And the death by crocodile? It was stuffed.
Torrential downpour, laptop, dirt road that instantly turned into a mudslide, and there was me, stupidly running for cover when I slipped and slide my way straight into the jaws of.. yeah… stuffed crocodile. Smooth, I know. Because my middle name should be Grace, and I’m all kinds of awkward.

What’s my name again??

So I’ve run into a bit of a dilemma over here in SE Asia.
Who knew?! A dilemma!
Actually, a dilemma implies that there is a solution somewhere in the problem. I’m not sure this has one—aside from moving away and starting over. Again.

I have a massive pet peeve against being called Candy. It’s unavoidable here. I’ve begun offering it up as a name variant in an “I’m sorry, I know my name is ridiculous, here, just think of chocolate.” sort of way.

“Oh! KA! KA! CANDY!!! I LOVE CANDY!”
Yes. Yes, okay. Cringe.

Unfortunately, “Can-dis” proves to be surprisingly difficult. Don’t ask me how. I’ve gotten Candy, Candeece, Caaandi, Condi, Conny, Cannnndeeeeece. Caneeee. Cadee, Cassie, Cali, Katie, and Catrine.  Or “Girl in Number Four!”  and the simplest:  “Hey, California!”

Just “dis”, actually. It’s just dis.

In a fit one night, after leaving China and getting on the plane, and getting off the plane, and being Candy for a few days, I couldn’t take it anymore.

“What’s your name?”
“Jo.”

And so the problem was born, unknowingly.
Because I did not realize three things:
1. I now lived in a very small town.
2. I was going to start spending a lot of time with this handsome stranger.
3. He knew everyone. And made all the introductions.

Mix vodka and stir.
Fast forward three months.

I am now, depending on whom you speak to: Jo, Josie, Candis, Candy, Andi, Angi, Jean—there’s no end. It’s a headache and a half trying to remember who I am to what people, and introductions get a bit hazy along the way.

I think my personality is splitting.
Don’t even ask about the confusion when new friendships get to the point of “Add me on Facebook!”

A few basics and a geography lesson

When I tell my friends I live in Thailand now, they go “Oh! The beaches! The islands! Perfect white sand and clear blue waters! You must be on the beach every day!”

My response is… “Uh, no, actually…” There is always a lot of confusion afterwards. Like; uh, C, you live in Thailand, and you chose a city in the mountains? Why on earth would you do that??
I haven’t been to a beach since I left California.

So I live in the mountains, about three hours south of the Burmese border. Which is great for visa runs, but on the spectrum of beaches, there are none. There are mountains. And jungle. And temples. Lots of temples, there are more temples in Thailand than there are Starbucks at home. That little red star on the map? That’s where I live.

southeast_asia_map2

I can walk down my street and pay 100 baht to swim in their pool for the afternoon. Or jump on the back of a motorbike and head up to the waterfalls and go hiking. There’s a quarry outside of town with a three story jump into a lake that I’ve been dying to go dive off of, but each time we get ambitious and say “tomorrow morning! Nine am!”… It doesn’t happen. No surprise there.

What I love most about this city are the long walks and the night markets. Stall after stall of colorful lights and happy people and crammed farang bargaining with the sellers. I love getting kebabs from one of the sellers, buying gelato and wandering around with nowhere to be.

My neighbors and friends are great, but I am not overly impressed with where I live. It’s beautiful, there are no problems or worries—and a distinct lack of drama, mostly because it’s so hot no one can be bothered. We sit around and say “there is no edge here.” And yet, most everyone finds themselves back in the city again after a month or two, because the ease of living is unparalleled.

My life here is much the same as it was in San Diego. I have an Irish pub down the road to watch football in (soccer, not American), a market a block away to get watermelon shakes and fresh fruit. I see friends every day, go to a French café each morning for scrambled eggs and toast. It was pointed out to me one evening, “So basically, you could be at home and doing the exact same thing.”

…Yup. I have to get out of here. But this city is so pleasant, it sucks you in.