One change in Phnom Penh and bussing it to the Southern coast takes twelve hours. This and a twenty-minute bumpity, bumpity, tukity, tukity ride in the dark; finally I reach the out of the way retreat. Exhausted, I walk across the tiled floor of a guestroom resembling a Q-Bert video game. Yes, I realize this dates me considerably but regardless, I open the wooden shutters to let in a night breeze and suddenly step on something. That something turns out to be a six-inch caterpillar. Seemingly unimpaired the furry creature regains consciousness and slowly and extremely tentatively, creeps away.
Plopping back-first onto the bed I close my eyes and inhale the soft scent of jasmine. Upon the exhale, I release the tensions of a long day into the gecko-chirping symphony surrounding me. A muffled plunk drops into the concerto prompting my eyelids to spring open. I peer up to meet the gaze of a small tan cat perched high atop the armoire. Staring down at me and then back again at the floor, she is sporting an expression that would indicate there are some descending issues underfoot. Following one of my few travel rules, this one regarding manhandling foreign felines, instead of assisting I open the door and watch as she carefully works her own way down and out.
Tired, frustrated and apprehensive about what other curious creatures may sneak, slither or crawl into my room to introduce themselves, I quickly close the shutters. One backward glance at the dizzying floor sparks a brief analysis of the situation:
It has finally happened — I have morphed into Alice. And this is Wonderland. If I open the door to the armoire odds are grand that I will discover a full tea party brewing inside, along with a stunning, albeit tiny, hat. Of course — this must be what Kitty was searching for — how silly of me not to see! It’s all so obvious!
Or perhaps I just need some sleep.
Upon waking the following morning I am greeted not by the Queen of Hearts, but by fields bursting of lush green vegetation. Having chosen a cozy area within the region, I’m finishing out my Cambodian adventure at a small retreat boasting an organic garden and gorgeous eco-philosophy. A gorgeously contemplative backdrop to bask in the glow of the last two weeks.