Tuesday, November 08, 2005


Somewhere in the endless suburbs of Tokyo there lies one particular train station named Sagami-Ono, on the Odakyu Line, and a stone's throw away from that particular station is a squat grey apartment building, four floors, that I lived in for four years. Room 417, if I recall correctly. I lived there and slept there and read there and learned there. Four years.

Whenever I hear about Japan or read about Japan or even look at a map of Japan, I always think: Something's missing. That 'something' is me, and my presence in that specific place, at that specific time. My sojurn there was not worthy of entry in an online encylopedia, of course, nor does it bear mentioning at the end of the latest economic and political news emanating from Nippon, but there is something special, almost sacred, about the fact that I was there, in that land, that I had a space of my own, if only briefly. It was mine.

I believe I will feel the same way about Cambodia when I leave, which is tomorrow. (I may be back, but who knows.) Of course, Cambodia is rarely, if ever, mentioned in the international news, but perhaps that will only accentuate the oddness and sacredness of the part it played in my life. There will always be me in Cambodia and Cambodia in me. Noone else need know; noone else need care. But the benefit of travel like this, of living in foreign lands, is that you become connected to the world.

Novelist James Michener's autobiography is entitled The World Is My Home, and famed Japanese filmmaker Akira Kurosawa, while resolutely maintaining that his films were made for the Japanese audience, acknowledged in his own autobiography that he, too, felt at home anywhere in the world. I don't know if I would go that far, not yet; I'm not sure how at home I would feel in Iraq, or Iceland, or Burkina Faso, where life expectancy hovers around thirty, tops.

Yet it really is one world; that most banal of truths is solidified again and again the more I travel, the more I see.

I was going to use this post to jot down a laundry list of memories of Cambodia, so that the future me (or the future you?) would be able to taste and touch and feel and sense what it was like. So that I would not forget.

But I will forget, some of it, and will remember, probably most of it. And the specifics I could list would only cloud my true intentions, which are to show that the differences are actually not so different after all. What would I list, anyway? People's smiles, people's actions, the specific contours of buildings and textures. To do so would be to highlight what's different, however, and I would rather leave this place and this time with the simple realization that perhaps such differences do not bear repeating. We're too much alike.

Off, tomorrow. Off to the Philippines. I never thought I'd end up in Japan, let alone Cambodia, let alone the Philippines, but so it goes. I guess I'm taking this 'canuckinasia' thing a bit too far; perhaps, eventually, I should return to 'canuckincanada', right?

Not that it would matter much, really.

In the end, it's all the same.


Harrison said...

Scotty, the Present Spence.
That title is SO gay. Gotta change it bro.
For a second there it almost sounded like you were coming back to Japan, which got me excited, and then you hit us with the Phillipines...dammit. Will I ever see you again?
I meant to send you an email in response to the shocking news of your girlfriends' illness...Its really sad Scott, and I am sending you my prayers and good wishes. Here's hoping everything is ok with her. She's lucky to have such a sensitive guy at her side. I mean the doctor, of course.
Stay groovy,

Le Will said...

I will miss reading your thoughts about life in Cambodia but look forward to your writing about the Phillipines as that is a country I know absolutely nothing about. I hope your girlfriend will be ok and get through this.

bethanie_odd said...

Dearest Scott,

Good luck on your journey. You have been in my thoughts and will continue to be.

I look forward to hearing things from yet another boarder.

Most Precarious said...

So odd, Scott. I've been checking your blog nearly everyday since you posted about going to Thailand, but that post was always the only one which showed up. Now I check today and see that you've indeed posted others and had to read back this morning. I hope Helen is healing well and that you are both ok. Now you are leaving again? I wish you the best in all of your travels and hope to read more about the adventures soon.

Ben O. said...

Keep us posted, Canuck.

Ben O.