I was once in Cambodia on a business trip.
I had never been to Cambodia before. I had lived in Bangkok for two years as a kid, and we were coming in from Singapore on that trip; Singapore seemed like the future, Bangkok the present, and Phnom Penh the past. The city, unlike its actual past, seemed quiet and peaceful.
I wanted to loosen my tie but I didn’t. Out of respect for my job, but out of respect for Cambodia as well.
It was daytime, and there were young people here and there playing soccer in plazas or alleys, the way soccer is played easily and everywhere around the world. Our van made its way through the winding streets. I watched the world outside.
It began to rain. The way it rains in the tropics, sheets of it, whitening the sky with water. But the young people playing soccer barely seemed to notice it. They continued to play.
I asked the Korean diplomat who was with me, “Shouldn’t they get out of the rain?”
He looked out of my side of the window and remarked, “They’ll just play through it. The sun will come out in a couple of minutes and they’ll be dried out in no time. They’re like that here.”
He was right. The rain abruptly ceased, the sun came out, and the young people continued to play through it all.
And that’s when I realized, Cambodia was going to be alright. Cambodia was fine.