Some of you might understand SQ as “self-quarantine”. Here, it’s my own initials for “semi-quarantine”. Be cautious: I’m not writing this to encourage this kind of practice because it may expose you to COVID19 infection. What you’re going to read below simply describes my short stay away from my Siem Reap home. The main purpose was just to avoid unnecessary infection to my small family.
1- It’s Yesterday Once More!
If that headline reminds you of a classic song, it drew me back to my first living in Siem Reap. Back then, to save up, I had to stay in a rented (apartment) room, annexed to a landlady’s house. That was applied again, when I searched for a play to “lock me down” just for two weeks. Thanks to my filmmaking friend, Sopheak, I found one behind his house. The first night felt steaming hot to me. So I moved from upstairs to downstairs and coped with a slightly better comfort from then on.
2- Simple, yet Expensive Stay!
Despite my minimalistic attempt, boy, I had to stock up lots of foodstuff and buy more accessories. So the expenses doubled up, compared to when I lived in Phnom Penh during our latest lockdown! Other than that, life got so simple that instant noodles and canned sardines become my “temporary favorites” 🙂 Oh yeah, if I found a meal too big, I’d keep the leftover till a next one.
3- Physical and Natural Combo
Again, Sopheak was kind enough to loan me his sports bicycle. Well, that changed virtually everything about my routines. After my morning meditation, I went on to my physical exercise. Of course, to commute around, I cycled as if no one cared! I sometimes walked around for some neighbor services. That was what I meant by “semi-quarantine” as I limited my commutation to a one-kilometer diameter of my room! Therefore, even if I changed the cafes to sit and work, I could recall where I hung out. Of course, for those two weeks, I never missed a single day of my temperature checkup.
4- Expanded Relationships?
It felt surreal when you limited your sphere of contact. Even a random barista could remember my regular order. The last sweet experience was my cafe next doors, Library Coffee, turned out to host my latest meals! The ambiance felt more humanely home to me than in my solo room. And what caused this change: their authenticity and kindness. We treated each other almost like a family. I’m not sure if they remember me on my return. But, on my next trip there, I’ll remember to drop a textbook or two in their corners for their (younger) clients’ curiosity. And my Facebook update brought me this young daring photographer-documentary maker: Choulay!
5- Family Still Matters
I totally understand how concerned my wife is about her parents and family. So my “semi-quarantine” was probably the best compromise until I completed my shift. After all, she still found time to take me some necessities. My feeling got mixed when I saw my kids just from her car window. As the saying goes, “far is near; near is far”. It all depends on our spirit. I thought they could get used to living away from me. But looking ahead, they still need my “physical” touch. Until then, virtual communications between us have done us no harm!
To sum up, this experience has proved to me that relationships still matter, despite the current pandemic. Fear may cripple us at times. Yet, love will conquer all. If you’re now still scared, go out and live your life anyway, even for the few days you count. Need a living proof? You can call me one of them – if not the one!