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Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Angkor what?

 

Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them - and without ever having heard of Henry David Thoreau, let alone read his book "Walden".

The vast majority of these people are ordinary people ordinarily satisfied with their station in life. They do the jobs they are paid to do more or less competently. They are as happy with their wives as are most married couples. They lead humdrum lives and do very much the same things every day. They have their little tiffs, their little jealousies, their little flirtations, their little celebrations. They are good, decent, normal people.

And then there are people who have some singularity of character, who by some accident or another, accident of temperament, accident of environment, take an unexpected turn. One such person is a friend who, nearing his retirement and having several months of accumulated long service leave due to him, travelled for a month in each of the countries Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos and Thailand.

During his travels he noticed there was a great need for English teachers throughout that region. He'd seen quite a few notices in guesthouses and small hotels calling for English teachers to help at their little schools. He took the details of one such school while in a small guesthouse in Siem Reap in Cambodia as he thought it would be cool to teach English there for a while.

On his return to Australia, he talked to someone about wanting to teach English but knowing nothing about it, and was told about a correspondence course called TESOL (Teach English to Speakers of Other Languages). He did the course, contacted the school in Siem Reap, and went back for six months on more long service leave.

Then, when he retired two years later, he returned to Cambodia permanently. He settled in Siem Riap which is the gateway to Angkor Wat, Cambodia's awe-inspiring temple complex. There he now lives with his new Cambodian wife and their little baby daughter and still teaches English and only occasionally returns to Australia to get a whiff of the old gum leaves.

So, if you look at your own life and ask yourself, "Now what?", Angkor Wat may be the answer.