Sunday, July 18, 2010

Travel By Numbers

I’m sitting in Phenom Penh International Airport. I’m waiting for my flight to Seoul to beginning boarding. There is a flat screen tv flashing an American documentary about AIDS in India. Four lovely Korea flight attendants in aquamarine silk suits have congregated about five seats down from me and are chatting warmly. I’m exhausted from an 8 hour bus trip (which included an 1.5 hour “lay-over” at the Vietnam-Cambodia border) that brought me from Saigon to Phnom Penh. I am looking at a 6.5 hour flight to Seoul, a 4 hour lay-over and a 13.5 hour flight to Atlanta. I have two carry-ons, one of which contains two stretched canvas painting of Angkor Wat in thick, bright acrylics. I stupidly paid an outrageous $3 for one iced coffee. There are four Westerners (including myself) waiting at the gate at this point. I have 22 minutes before boarding and 75% of my power remaining in my battery. I have exactly $15 left (which really is minus about $600 because I own my folks money due to unforeseen medical costs).  I have covered an estimated 20,000 miles in the last two months. I will have touched ground in five countries and two continents. I have interviewed roughly 14 individuals, written two official articles, two extended reports, 19 blog posts and only seven paper journal entries. I have 9 days until I leave for Minnesota /Canada and two months before I leave for England. I brought with me only three pairs of pants, one skirt, six shirts, two tank tops, one pair of pj bottoms, 16 pairs of panties, three sports bras, one sweater, one hat and a single, well-worn pair of chacos. My passport has three Visas – two for Cambodia and one for Vietnam – one of which will grant me return access until this coming December. I have spent countless hours writing, dozens of hours reading and too many hours incapacitated with illness. I watched all four seasons (roughly 50+) episodes of Ugly Betty. I take with me one colorful bag from Saigon. I leave behind dozens of co-workers, one awesome boss, one amazing friend and a single, humble piece of my heart.

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