My father lived in Cambodia, in Phnom Penh for years. He lived in an old Khmer house with potted orchids hanging from all the eaves. His furniture was dark oiled wood, his bedspreads were silk in inky colors. It was all very dramatic.
I visited him in Cambodia, once and then twice. I was living in Kathmandu at the time and Phnom Penh seemed chaotic and dangerous in comparison. People would whisper about having to run checkpoints late night. There were robberies with complicit guards tied up up in pretend manner. My father once saw a man shot in some brawl over a prostitute. We would listen to the tales of intrigue and betrayal over drinks at the Foreign Correspondents Club where we'd mingle with the regulars.
It was an unusual life, but one suited some how for my father -- a man who was exceedingly mild mannered but yet terribly adventurous at the same time.
I'm back now in Phnom Penh. And I'm alone. At first glance, the city seems to have changed, to have gentrified - the bars less gritty, the streets cleaner.
But perhaps that's just the surface. Let's see what I'll find.