When we arrived in Sen Monorom (the Capital of Mondul Kiri province) at about noon, we were astonished. The busy hustling otherwise known from even the smallest Cambodian townships didn’t seem to happen here, in the mountains at the end of the world. Rather, it appeared to us like a piece of scenery from a western: We were trotting past houses along an only main dust track, and all heads were turning towards us, the white strangers. Not even the normal steady PA orgy out of megaphones from market and temple that Cambodians seem so fond of happened here. No, it was quiet, and the heat was bearable. That was one reason why we had come to Sen Monorom. The mountains. A few degrees less than in the dusty hell at sea level.
There were two other reasons. For one, we had planned to teach English to kids and monks somewhere in the countryside. This really shouldn’t be a problem. But our timing was off: In a few days it would be Khmer New Year, and the entire country was in a state of emergency. No thought of school. Well, Khmer New Year was the third reason. People had told us that it is best celebrated in the countryside. Everybody was heading home to their families. The cities orphaned. But there was a timing problem here as well: Nobody ever knows exactly when Khmer New Year is happening. Sometime between 11th and 16th of April it seems. So there might be a few days left. A few days at the end of the world.
Time for starting a project that we had had in mind for some time: Sitting on a chair and watching the street. A classic diversion not just for old people in countries like Morocco, Greece, or Cambodia. We had witnessed this quite a few times, and Julian had even tried it before in Greece. Sen Monorom seemed the perfect place for this.