I recently returned from Cambodia where Bob has been involved with philanthropic projects for over 10 years. In addition to wanting to see his work there, I was curious about life in southeast Asia and what better time to head for the tropics than when it’s February in Chicago?
Of course, getting out of Chicago in February was easier said than done.
So he did, and after a minor delay, the plane took off. 24+ hours later (with Bob having joined me when I changed planes in Seoul), we arrived in Phnom Penh in the middle of a dark and balmy night.
I woke up the next morning, eager for Bob to show me around the city. We hired a tuk-tuk and set out.
This was my introduction to the chaos that is traffic all over Cambodia. Traffic lights are rare and cars, trucks, motos (motorcycles), tuk-tuks, bicycles and pedestrians just get on the road and go. There is a wide range of acceptable road behavior and if you navigate in the customary way, you seem to do okay.
A pedestrian’s lot is dicier. There are sidewalks, but they are not for pedestrians.
Pedestrians are forced into the street to walk alongside traffic. Crossing the street is a more terrifying leap of faith.
Eventually you get the hang of it, but you are constantly aware of the risk.
Like all the other new aspects of this culture, I thought I was starting to adjust.
Bob and I love to walk the neighborhoods of Chicago.
Over the last two years, we’ve enjoyed long walks through 35 of Chicago’s 77 neighborhoods. Each is unique and comes with its own set of fascinating sights.
Bob and I take turns planning our walks.
Sometimes I organize our excursions:
And sometimes Bob chooses our next adventures:
We always learn something new about the history, culture and people of our city. We frequently come across peculiar things we can’t explain, but we always have fun trying.
Perhaps the strangest thing we’ve seen on any of our walks was a dead chicken. We were walking in the Avondale neighborhood along the Chicago River on a sidewalk bordering some nice condos.
It seemed odd to see people going about their lives, oblivious to the dead chicken in their midst.
We moved on and finished our walk, but the dead chicken left an impression. At first, it was a passing reference.
But after a while, we used it primarily as a geographical reference.
It’s not that I don’t understand the city street grid system, but having a memorable point of reference just makes more sense to me. Eventually, the dead chicken became the State and Madison of an alternate way of describing city locations.
Bob and I recently started our third year of walking and exploring Chicago’s neighborhoods. We look forward to seeing more special and interesting sights, but doubt any will ever replace the dead chicken.
I’ve been spending a lot of time in my car recently and binge listening to NPR. I’ve come to the conclusion that interview guests must all be prepped in advance by this man:
It’s July in Chicago and THEY’RE BA-ACK!!! (But how do they get up here?)