Posts in Life

Get vaccinated

I’m fully vaccinated and got boostered last week. No, I don’t know “what’s in it”. Neither this vaccine or the ones I had as a child. Nor do I know what’s in the 11 secret herbs and spices at KFC.

I also don’t know exactly what’s in Ibuprofen or Tylenol — they just cure my headaches & my pains.

I don’t know what’s in tattoo ink, botox and fillers, or every ingredient in my soap, shampoo or deodorants.

I don’t know the long term effect of mobile phone use, or whether or not that restaurant I ate at yesterday REALLY used clean foods and washed their hands.

There’s a lot of things I don’t know.

I do know one thing: life is short. Very short. And I, personally, still want to do things. I want to travel and hug people without fear, and find a little feeling of life “before”.

Throughout my life I’ve been vaccinated against many diseases. Measles, mumps, rubella, polio, chickenpox, hepatitis, pneumonia, influenza, rotavirus, tetanus, pertussis, rabies, yellow fever, typhoid and cholera. My parents (and I) trusted the science.

And bummer, I had a fit with typhoid for a few months in my life. No fun. It was like all the Dengue I had, times 10. It was a variant I wasn’t vaccinated against.

I’m vaccinated. Not to please a government. Or the lady at the store next door. Or to get a Green pass on my app.

Not to make other people do it. But I don’t want to not to die from Covid-19, clutter a hospital bed if I get sick, not able to hug my loved ones, have to test myself routinely and live my life in fear.

I can’t say it any clearer.

Granola

Tbilisi, December 10.

There was a loud banging on my door this morning. My neighbor from next door. A rather big-sized, older Georgian man. He was red faced and pointing to his throat with panic. Within five seconds I was Heimliching behind him. With success, because he left a piece of a bar of granola on the floor.

Fifteen minutes later we were having coffee at my place and we try to understand each other. He doesn’t speak a word of English and I don’t speak Kartvelian. He walked back to his apartment, came back and handed me a box of granola bars. He doesn’t need them anymore.

So this is the Goodbye Cambodia post

So this is the GOODBYE CAMBODIA post as I left the country on August 13, 2021. I thank everybody who has ever supported me on this almost 12-year journey. An utmost colorful chapter in the book of my life.

Thank you for your connection here, your dedication in Phnom Penh, your time to escape to the most comfortable movie theater South-East Asia has ever had, and your desire to see it grow into what it became.

Kolyan Keth now runs the Foodoo – The $5 Gourmet Dinner Box project, which I founded when I saw the need for dinner box deliveries three years ago. My pride and joy for better bread baking in Cambodia, Sandwich Heaven, is passed onto the hands of the highly professional Khmer managers. I keep the secret recipes for my vegetarian nut cheeses by The Nutcracker with me (I can always restart such production elsewhere again). The Phnom Penh’s English Book Exchange with a collection over over +1250 English fiction books has moved to Botanico Wine & Beer Garden.

My latest project, the literary magazine The Quiet Reader, will always stay an online project with the world’s most beautiful short stories by new and emerging authors. But imagine a Best Of-book, one day. To be continued…

The Flicks Community Movie House is closed forever and the venue has been stripped bare. What an enormous joy and connection with the community that job gave me. I don’t think I will ever meet that many people as through an operation like that.
I am so happy the ceiling plates did not fall down in the last weeks, the projector lamp didn’t die, the AC only needed one final re-gas, nobody fell through the termite infested floor planks below the carpet — so it can all nicely collapse on its own, in peace.

Living in Cambodia allowed me to travel and experience the different cultures in Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Indonesia (where the earthquake tremors gave me some serious PTSD for months), Singapore, Malaysia, but also further away in Japan (which is “the most beautiful woman I have ever met, but I have no clue what she’s saying”), South Korea and China.

Thanks for all the memories, drinks, the foods, foreign friends visiting, the laughs, the journeys, pub quizzes, bike rides, brunches, beaches, sports, islands, and the many celebrations that made it all too unforgettable for the rest of my life.

Cambodia surely has its ups and downs and I have had my share (and enough) of all tropical diseases you can throw at me (I will tell you about that unforgettable typhoid experience for a few beers), but they are experiences nobody can ever take away from me.

There is a expression going around that if you can’t handle yourself (or a business) in Cambodia, you can’t handle yourself anywhere else and I see a good sense of truth in there.

Cambodia is a weird, sometimes baffling, but other times a true magical kingdom of wonder – that will always keep you wondering (and bribing the relevant ministries).

I am moving on, pursuing my dreams and passions. It’s time for a new life elsewhere.

To cite a recent fan mail: Thank you.
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. THANK YOU.

The day my music died

Back to this day, June 25 in 2009.

I escaped my home in Amsterdam for a week off and bought myself a night train ride to Italy. And after a few days in the metropolis city of Milan, I continued on to Rome in a 3-hour train ride through the green country side. I was able to couchsurf with a young Italian couple living in the outer suburbs of Rome.

They basically took my hand and dragged me along in their Italian life. When they were working, I managed to explore Vatican City, I saw the Pantheon, ate pizzas and saw the impressive Colosseum. And I probably visited all 19 basilicas, because I am a nerd. And I did what the Romans do: eat all that delicious gelato ice cream. All day long. It was a hot summer day.

In the early evenings I would meet up with my hosts again and life was very pleasant. We played music, they invited friends over or we went out for drinks.

I was very lucky when one of my hosts had to work in the security department of a big stadium concert. If I wanted to join her. Yes, of course. It was a concert by Tiziano Ferro. “He is the Michael Jackson of Italy. Our biggest pop star!”, she said. I remembered that name. Tiziano had a little summer hit in The Netherlands earlier (youtube). Thanks to my hostess I was able to get into the stadium if I only could just help out the people in their wheelchair area in front of the stage and make sure they are all happy there. What a blast that was. And the crowd sung along. I learned some more Italian and the concert was an absolute joy to attend.

It was just after the show, when I was taken backstage in the catacombs of the stadium and waiting for my hostess to be finished with her job, when the mood changed by a full180 degrees.

I had a received a text message on my phone from a good friend in The Netherlands. Everybody around me seemed to have received such a message. People were on their phone sending more messages. This wasn’t the time yet when we all had data and could surf to the BBC website for a news update. It went by phone and texts. People were in disbelief. Some people cried.

The night ended in mourning. Playing the music. Sharing stories. Have more wine or beer. Staring out of the windows.

It was the day Michael Jackson died.

Valentine’s Day 2017

I am an individual.
And I take everything seriously. Except myself.
I cannot control how I am perceived, only how I am presented.
So I dance like everyone is watching and I don’t give a shit.
Without me, I’ve got nothing.
So when times get tough,
I choose downward dog over downward spiral.
I eat eggs and bacon in the morning, do push-ups before bed time, and ‘Look hot’ is always on my to-do list (right before ‘Go out into the world and kick some ass’).
I can get what I want.
But I can’t get it alone.
So I pull over to ask for directions. I never turn down a free lesson in anything, and when life gives me lemons, I find someone who wants lemons and sell them at a premium.
I am bullshit-intolerant, because lying only complicates everything.
I assume that assuming is a bad idea, and that trying to change people is not my job.
I am replaceable, but I bust up my ass to make sure it’s not so obvious. I never give up, I never give in, and when somebody makes me really angry, I do fifty pushups. (That will show ‘em).
While I know that most people don’t bite, I know the ones that do are usually worse off than me.
So I help strangers carry heavy things.
I never let anyone ruin my day and if I have time to judge someone, I’ll judge myself.
I am not for everyone and everyone is not for me.
So, I just do me,
one day at a time
and see what happens.