In less than two weeks, I will have been living in Cambodia for three years. Of course, my love affair with this wonderful, colourful, noisy, friendly, flawed yet utterly beautiful nation began over eleven years ago. For the past three years, I lived have in the bustling, busy, dirty, dusty and endlessly entertaining capital that is Phnom Penh. Until July 1st 2017. Now, I am a Pot-Pat and I’m not talking about marijuana. I have moved to Kampot; my favourite place on earth.
Firstly, I appreciate that considering this blog is supposed to keep friends and family updated on my life, I’m doing badly since it’s almost the second week in August. For those of you feeling out of the loop regarding my relocation, be comforted with the knowledge I Skyped my parents for the first time since June five days ago. That said, they knew all about the Pot-Plans.
Kampot is a town which has featured in more than a few of my past blogs (like this one, and this one, and this one, and this one, and this one, and this one, and this one). It’s my favourite place in Cambodia and being the sort of person I am, I decided to make my dream a reality and just move here. Of course, I am lucky now to have a job which I can do from anywhere (writing for a digital marketing agency, in case anyone missed that). So back to Kampot. It’s small, it’s sleepy, it’s full of colonial architecture, it’s friendly, it’s right on the river, it’s 30 minutes from the coast, my new house is seconds from open countryside, and the place is packed with delectable eateries. Basically, it’s heaven on earth.
My last blog was about the departure of my long-term flatmate and closest friend, Jordan. This shift in my life was one of the reasons behind my move. Admittedly, a life in Kampot had been on my mind for over a year so when Jordan announced her plans, it seemed as good a time as any to make the change. After three years and sixteen flatmates, many of who were fantastic and some of whom were … yeah, anyway, I decided I needed some time on my own. Well, with Nugget the cat, of course. And for one weekend, I was accompanied by my stellar moving crew (Jess even stayed with me for a full week to help settle me in!)
I am now living like a queen in a beautiful three-bedroom house with Nugget in an eco-village, populated with long-time Pot-Pats. Seriously, people refer to themselves as that here. One bedroom doubles as an office and every Saturday is cleaning day. It’s like I’m an adult; rather disconcerting if I do say so myself. I’ve even learnt how to drive a moto; something I had been putting off doing in the city and am now discovering is not only easy but great fun and gives me the freedom to go off exploring the beautiful countryside whenever I like.
Nugget is loving her new life down here too. After two years as an indoor cat with the occasional escape attempt, she is now free to roam around in the quiet, safe, community garden, populated by mango trees and chickens. The latter of which scare her, by the way. She rarely strays far and has learnt to jump back into the safety of the house through the open window whenever next door’s puppy, Toby, appears to ‘play’.
I plan to stay in Kampot for at least a year, with sporadic trips up to Phnom Penh required for work and social occasions. I’ve already been back once and admit it wasn’t the most enjoyable experience. I hadn’t realised how much I loved and had missed country living; the clean air, the slower pace of life, the peace and quiet. Now Phnom Penh just seems nosier, busier and dirtier than ever before. It was a relief to return to my little mansion (oxymoronic but accurate), close the door against the torrential monsoon rains (which Kampot is sadly suffering through the past few weeks due to the massive mountain between me and the ocean) and be alone.
I’m a social person but solitude is my closest friend right now. I need some time. I need to recuperate, recover, recharge. Phnom Penh took a lot out of me. It was a lot of fun, of course, but it was also a lot of drinking, a lot of near-death traffic experiences, a lot of dust and dirt and, sadly, a lot of goodbyes. The last one was the worse and I’m not ready to begin making new friends just yet. For now, a few months, perhaps, I need some me time. Well, me and Nugget time. I’m writing more than ever before (although admittedly not for this blog – sorry!), I’m eating healthily, I’m not drinking, I’m reading more books. I’m happy, frankly.
So, Kampot, thank you for giving me a new lease of life. I’m so glad I decided to move here and become a Pot-Pat. Here’s to the next twelve months of countryside adventures and rural delights.
Oh, and anyone who wants to come and visit, I have two spare bedrooms! Must like cats.