A Piece of Tribulation

The Great Cambodian Experiment: I

Tomorrow’s a big day. We’re going back and forth to so many countries there’s moments where I have to pause and remind myself which one we’re in at the moment. Often, I’d wake up in the middle of the night and it’ll take a while before I can figure out where I am… and sometimes I’d just doze off again without being sure.

Tonight I’m in Thailand, back at the distillery with all my gear, getting ready to hit the sack. We had to start distillation today but the power’s out, which means the water pump’s out of order (and without water we’re stuck.) Not much you can get done in the dark, so I thought best I pass out until daybreak when we can get water from the pond.

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My bedroom away from home


It’s exciting at first, but after a few years of backbreaking work across South East Asia, traveling can take its toll. ‘Travel is a piece of tribulation,’ I sometimes recall the words of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him.)

Maybe it was Sartre or Douglas Adams, but somebody had a word for how despite the disorientation you feel being cut off from the comfort of your home, and wife, and your little girl’s smile, you find a sense of familiarity in strange places or things. For some it’s the leather bag that goes wherever they go; for others, an old baseball cap. For me, it’s the bottle of coconut oil I keep with me like a wallet. Whenever we eat out, the waitress writes down our order and heads to the kitchen, slightly confused I’m sure, with a 500ml bottle of virgin coconut oil to use instead of the corn, soy, or God knows what other kinds of things food gets cooked in these days.

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The kitchen

Hopefully we’ll have the water pump sorted out tomorrow and get ready to light up the pots and start distilling.

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 The office

To be continued…

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Ensar

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