Greetings from Nepal. I hope you are happy and healthy. The air quality in Kathmandu has cleared just a bit. For the past week it had gone from bad to worse due to a dry winter and accompanying wildfires. We earned the dubious honor of being the most dangerous place on Earth to breathe.
With great admiration and respect for humanity, I continue to see folks move along through trauma after trauma with strength and perseverance that most often includes a smile. It is a shame that all that strength and perseverance has to be mustered up to deal with trauma after trauma. Wouldn’t it be great to be able to spend all that energy fixing things that are already broken instead of dealing with so many increasing and additional troubles? The continuing propaganda, gaslighting, manipulation, misinformation, and intentional confusion provided the public, as well as the very real plagues, ecological disasters, political mismanagements, and other malfunctions influence almost everyone’s mood. So much energy is spent rising above bullshit that shouldn’t exist in the first place.
As they say in the old country, “This too shall pass.” Meanwhile, I guess there’s no common sense in doing anything but trying to create, within and without, the positivity we’d like to be swimming in.
Tourist traffic is still sparse, but there is talk of that changing soon. Many of the small businesses here are struggling to stay afloat. While many of the less expensive hotels go out of business, the upscale hotel construction continues everywhere. Controlling interests continue building up to the gentrification of the Eastern hemisphere that is happening in coordination with the de-gentrification being forced upon the West.
I was in Siem Reap, Cambodia for three months before coming to Nepal. Here are some short excerpts from what will be the Cambodia section of the new book. They were written before the world got so complex and heavy. To me, they are a welcome bit of light and breezy. I hope you find some light and breezy here too. Thanks very much for reading and for clicking on the backlinks.
Be well. Love to all there, Tenzin
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The Local Market
The local neighborhood market is a miniature version of the downtown Night Market, but with a very noticeable lack of bars and massage parlors. There is a lot more concentration on food, clothing, and cosmetics. Cosmetics are a big thing in Cambodia.
This is a neighborhood venue that caters to a few long-term tourists, but mostly to locals with families. Fresh produce, meat, and live fish are available. The live fish sit on wet tables until someone buys them. At one of these fish tables, two live ones jump off the table and onto the floor right in front of me—and start walking down the floor! I shit you not. These fish have feet! There are no toes, but where a dog or cat’s front legs would be there are flipper/feet type appendages that allow the fish to actually walk!
The Peace Cafe
One of the cleanest and most beautiful bits of jungle in the neighborhood is the Peace Café. It sits about a half mile up the road and across the river from The Royal Dragon Apartments where I live. Gorgeous exotic fresh flowers of various purples and oranges grace each table. The place is spotless and the servers are in uniforms. As soon as a customer sits down, the server arrives with a smiling face and a cold, wet, very refreshing mentholated towel. The food is some of the best in Southeast Asia or anywhere else. The Peace Café is strictly vegetarian. They don’t even use eggs. But they can make vegetable dishes taste like anything! Their vegan version of the nationally famous Amok fish rivals the original. They also offer meditation classes.
If this sounds more like a fancy uptown restaurant than an ordinary mom-and-pop place, you are right. The prices reflect it. But that only means that a two dollar meal downtown (that would cost fifteen dollars in most of America) costs four dollars at The Peace Cafe. It is worth it. The atmosphere, as well as the food, reflect the value of the place.
There is a card displaying a wisdom saying on each table at the Peace Café. Here is a sampling. If you are depressed, you are a living in the past. If you are anxious, you are living in the future. If you are at peace, you are living in the present. There is no way to peace. Peace is the way. If you want peace, stop fighting. If you want peace of mind, stop fighting with your thought.
Death Defying Dragon Drivers
I grew up in New York City and have since been in major metropolitan areas around the world. Cambodian drivers are by far and away the craziest and bravest I have ever seen. It is a miracle that half the population doesn’t die daily in traffic accidents! Tuk-tuks, motorbikes, some cars, and the occasional truck weave around each other with very reckless abandon. It is common to see someone driving on the wrong side of the road as if it is their personal one-way street and the opposing traffic is part of a video game obstacle course. Like Grand Theft Auto, drivers seem to treat the driving process as a form of entertainment instead of a potentially dangerous form of transportation. Rules are fluid. Folks have no trouble bending them. I have seen tuk-tuks going north while motorbikes go south in the same lane. As this goes on, a car tries to use the very same space to go from east to west. The situation is a bit more tame but still prevalent in my little suburban neighborhood. Downtown is flat-out batshit crazy. Pedestrians are always at risk. Looking both ways before crossing may not be enough. Laughing Girl
A few blocks walk from the Peace Café is a free standing hut restaurant with seventy-five cent coconuts. They chop the top off and stick a straw in one for me. A few blocks past that, down a side street, is a stand with a dozen kinds of natural juices. Half of the juices are made from fruits I have never heard of before. I get the Aloe Vera. Downing both juices would give a good rush all by itself. The monstrous amounts of sugar that Cambodians put in everything possible adds to the jolt.
On that same side street, a block past the juice place, is a thirty foot tall, ornately carved, stone gateway. This is most often a sign that there is a temple, probably with an elementary school attached to it, behind that gateway. The gate itself is an incredible piece of art containing finely crafted scroll work as well as images of goddesses, elephants, and crocodiles. If a singular craftsman of his day did this, it may have taken a whole lifetime to finish.
Getting closer affords a view of three orange-robed monks walking in the distance behind a hundred screaming children at play in a schoolyard. My juice buzz and I wander through the gate into a hectic schoolyard full of the sweet, noisy chaos of happy children, and then on to the serene silence of the temple/monk-residence section. Wandering into a small side temple gives a big surprise. Half of it is cordoned off into sections of orange robes hung over rope lines acting as room dividers. Three or four monks are actually living in this shrine!
The main temple is much bigger. It is spotless and beautiful, as most of them are. It is considered a blessing to clean the temple. Monks and locals alike take very attentive care of the area. After a half hour of meditating/day dreaming in the temple, I go back to the school area to write up some notes. There are a few stone steps behind a woman that sells ice cream from a cart by the schoolyard. She has a crying three-year-old daughter with her. The child is perched in a basket on the handlebars of the bicycle that hauls that cart around.
Many times, all that children need is to be distracted from their crying for just a minute in order to completely forget what the crying was about in the first place. (It can work with whining adults too.) I stroke the child’s hand while giggling and smiling at her. She starts giggling back. Giggles turn into uproarious laughter and the kid is on a roll! I’m ready to play. I start laughing and smiling right back at her. A half-dozen kids waiting for ice cream think this is hilarious. They start laughing along with us. This goes on for twenty minutes. Every few minutes the baby takes a break. As soon as she catches her breath and starts to laugh again, I give her a big smile and laugh in return—and then everyone waiting for ice cream breaks into laughter as well.
At six feet and two inches tall, I may be the biggest, whitest thing this kid has ever seen in her short life. She may be the sweetest person I have ever met in mine.
Many thanks to our wonderful friends at Pema Boutique Hotel for their help and support.
***The books Fearless Puppy On American Road and Reincarnation Through Common Sense by this same author are also available through Amazon or the Fearless Puppy website, where there are sample chapters from those books. Entertaining TV/radio interviews with and newspaper articles about the author are also available there. There is no charge for anything but the complete books! All author profits from book sales will be donated to help sponsor an increase in the number of wisdom professionals on Earth, beginning with but certainly not limited to Buddhist monks and nuns.
***If you missed the Introduction to the new book that will be titled Temple Dog Soldier, or would like to see several chapters of it that are available for free online, go to the Puppy website Blog section. This is a book in progress. You will be reading it as it is being created! Just like you, I don’t know what the next chapter is going to be about until it is written. As the Intro will tell you, this is a totally true story—and probably the only book ever written by and about a corpse journeying completely around the world!