Friday, 31 August 2012

In Defense of Bragging

No one likes a braggart.

No one really wants to hear how amazing your life is, how happy you are, how incredible is whatever it is that you are doing. Good news is rarely interesting.

The problem, of course, is that sometimes there is no bad news. Sometimes life is just f-cking extraordinary and gives you one good thing after another. Sometimes things are perfect.

But no one wants to hear about those times.

No one wants to hear about the tiny, undeveloped tropical island off the coast of Cambodia, where we spent ten perfect, peaceful, relaxing days living in a bungalow on the beach. No one wants to know that it was the paradise everyone looks for- but rarely finds- when they book a holiday at a beach resort. They don’t want to hear that ours was the only establishment on an island with no cars, no crowds, no internet or TV- no distractions or disturbances of any kind. That the resort, at capacity, only housed around 50 people at a time and that we never shared the place with more than about 30 other guests, often half that. That the only sound day and night was the crashing of waves and the wind rustling through the palm and pine trees that lined the beach. No one wants to know that the soft, golden sand of the same beach was nearly always empty, that the turquoise water was as clear and warm as a kiddie pool, that when the sea wasn’t as smooth and calm as glass, it had rolling waves that were perfect for body surfing.

Rider on the storm...

People don’t want to hear that our rustic, private bungalow had a heart-stopping view of the sea, which we would gaze at from the two hammocks on our porch. That we shared the whole peaceful scene under our thatched roof with nothing more disruptive than a few innocuous geckos. That we slept with our door open every night to let in the sea breeze and woke up to that view, that postcard perfect view, at our feet every morning. They are not interested to hear that day in and day out, the most stressful thing we had to do was decide what to choose from the menu of the impressive restaurant. That I didn’t put on a pair of shoes, or pants, or a watch, for a week and a half. That it was easily the most perfect, relaxing getaway I’ve ever experienced- positively luxurious in its simple, uncomplicated rusticity.

Gary the Gecko, our bungalow's mascot
Gary keeping me company in our bathroom
I pretty much didn't leave that spot for 10 days

A classic, mostly ineffective, way to kid oneself into thinking one isn’t bragging is to shift focus on the negative aspects of an experience to downplay the positive: “Yeah, I won the lottery, but it was only 20 million, and you know, after taxes it’s really not that much.”

So I’ll give that tactic a try: our bungalow was very basic. Generator-powered electricity only after 6:00pm, no hot water or fan, toilets you had to flush manually with a bucket of water. The tap water came from a nearby stream, so drinking water had to come from bottles (although we ended up drinking the filtered stream water that the local staff was drinking). The wooden beams of the bungalow wall were spaced enough to let any number of bugs in- we slept under a mosquito net and counted on our resident geckos to keep our home spider-free. It rained a little bit, forcing us in off the beach to drink wine, play Scrabble and wait for the clouds to pass. And at $40 a night, it was the most expensive place we have stayed in since arriving in Asia.

So, you know, it really wasn’t all that great.

Only it was.

In a previous post, I apologized for abruptly neglecting my blogging duties for a week and a half without warning. Now you know why. We arrived on the island with the plan to stay for four days. Four turned to five, which turned to seven. On the sixth day, the manager offered us two free nights, so our four day mini-vacation turned into ten days of languishing denial that we would eventually have to leave.

The same manager has tentatively offered us a job there in October.

Nepal or Lazy Beach? We have a decision to make…


  1. Elissa and Vincent.

    Have shared this most entertaining and educational digital tagalong opportunity to join you on your trip and lives. Have personally enjoyed it beyond words.

    It is my hope, it will help others realize the diversity of this planet. In so many ways. And perhaps as a byproduct some compassion and respect for those who we do not yet know by geography, yet have so very much in common.



  2. Carpe Diem and I love your reference to the Doors!