Having wrapped up five really great days in Siem Reap, Diane and I headed out to Phnom Pennto explore one of Southeast Asia’s newest up and coming capital cities. Way out in front of Yangon in terms of development, we saw large-scale residential projects as the bus approached from a northwestern direction. Slated for future construction of suburban communities like Chiang Mai, I’d give it there to five years before the expat community swarms to another developing nation’s capital city and changes its look for better or worse. Becoming relatively popular, a moderate expat community is taking shape and you’ll find lots of trendy restaurants, shops and modest condos stretched in five or six-mile area stretching from the central tourist area near the national museum to the embassies lying fifteen to twenty minutes away by tuk tuk. And of course, the children of Cambodia are the shining stars of the nations’ future.
Starkly contrasting the modern looking trendy streets, a large block of the city limits is made up of sprawling working class neighborhoods that are every bit as “developing” looking as you’d expect from Southeast Asia. Clearly visible on a trip to The Killing Fields, much of the city remains mired in poverty despite major infrastructure improvements and a surging tourism industry previously limited to archaeological wonders and off-road adventures in the jungle. Without a doubt, the main attraction in the area is one of the saddest experiences you’ll encounter anywhere in Southeast Asia.
Unlike most Americans, I love April 15th, the anniversary of my birth. Almost as bad as being born on Christmas Day or more recently, September 11th, it’s the infamous day representing the tax filing deadline for millions of Americans. Considering Diane and I always get a sizable tax refund anyway, the day never meant much to me as far as the government goes. But this year is a triple whammy in a very positive way. First off, it’s my 50th birthday. By itself that’s an awesome milestone especially for those lucky enough to be starting the second half of life sans work. More importantly, however, it marks the end of my 550+ day trudge as a House Husband waiting endlessly to file an MM2H Visa without adverse financial ramifications. (Although it’s permitted, applicants under age 50 need to submit a fixed deposit that’s twice as high). And finally, we close escrow ten days after we file. Now that’s good karma !!
So what have I accomplished in 50 years on the planet? Sadly, nothing at all except marrying a wonderful lifelong companion that puts up with my anal personality, overly chatty nature and other misgivings like my pathetic lack of skills when it comes to putting anything together. As far as contributions to humanity, I helped a couple of thousand high net worth clients make sure their cash was where it should be for 30 years. Hoping to change that, Diane and I pan on including volunteerism as part of our travels, especially as it applies to animals. Our favorite and number one on the bucket list to visit is Tasikoki Wildlife Rescue Centerin the northernmost province of Sulawesi. Rich in biodiversity, the island receives little attention in the conservation field and their mission is to diminish the trade in protected wildlife. Their Facebook page is awesome and I highly encourage everyone to visit and like it.
Not really feeling old yet, I still think of myself as middle age but relatively fit enough to spend ten or fifteen years traveling, exploring, sharing stories on the blog and being as active as practical without dehydrating myself to death. Deciding to spend my long 17 month period between layoff and MM2H filing getting healthier in preparation for expat adventures, it’s been a long and often challenging time. Eagerly awaiting this day I’m looking forward to another half century minus the cubicles, work stress and day-to-day trudge that is life as an American army ant worker. Here’s to 50 more !!
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