Breakfast in Cambodia (Kismuth / 2015)


AFTER THE STORY ENDS you think you have a way to talk about what happened. The good stuff, the road, the sharing, the journey. You try to do this in a way that’s cohesive and consistent. You put things into 750-word columns for someone somewhere on the other side of the world, whom you hope will enjoy it. You want to know if someone is reading, and engaging, and every so often you will get a tiny note that says something like, “I clip your essay every month,” and it makes you think, Keep going.

Here’s where the cover photo was taken. I had a small reading over breakfast here, one day in 2016. / Photo: Dipika Kohli

One of the things I hope this book will do is show a brighter, more warm side of Cambodia than is usually portrayed through a Western lens. This has been one of the most exciting places I’ve ever seen, rich in juxtapositions and open with its anything-can-happen personality. I love Phnom Penh, and I want to show, as best I can and as respectfully of the local people that I might, what two and a half years observing and taking notes, quietly and from the margins, has taught me. The Village Report started as a monthly column for two US publications from 2013-2015, Saathee in North Carolina, and Northwest Asian Weekly in Seattle.

A book about landing in Cambodia’s Phnom Penh – and staying

Breakfast in Cambodia is a true story of disconnecting from life in a rich, Western country for one year on ‘the road’ in south and southeast Asia. Of landing in Phnom Penh, and reinventing a sense of self. What solitude, time, distance and quiet space can teach us about our innermost selves is the heart of this story, to me. I really think this next thing. I believe this. That in our modern world, the village is one to which we all belong—as humanity. There is a quiet, strong, ancient village that dates back centuries. It’s ours. It’s beautiful. And it belongs to all of us.

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