Editorial column Benny Mailman


Greetings super awesome cool humans of Monroe County and beyond,

Wow, one of my best friends ever, Rick, is in Siem Reap, Cambodia right now. Before my wife Vicheka and I came to the United States, last May, that was where we lived.

I often speak of strong and similar energies that encompass our realities. Rick was in Thailand, and I had no idea he was even going to Siem Reap, to see the temples of Angkor Wat. I helped him arrange a tuk tuk, which is a cart pulled by a scooter, for his tour through the ancient temples. I asked him for his hotel location, so that my friend could go pick him up. Without us ever conversing, Rick was staying in the hotel directly across the street from the University I had taught at for 5 years. We both could not believe it, since there are close to 1,000 hotels in that touristy town. Had we still lived there, he would have been less than two minutes away from where we lived, on the same road, 27.

The last travel that my wife and I were on, included her parents and a trip to Penang, Malaysia. Penang is a touristy destination as well, and is quite a melting pot of cultures. My favorite place to eat was a restaurant called El Capitain, that served Indian food, with high tastes and soaring spice levels. Vicheka loved this noodle place, where you could watch them making the noodles, as you ate.

What we did not know at the time, was that that would be our last travel for quite some time, as the great interrupter was seeding in Wuhan, China. After Penang, we ended up in Kuala Lampur, the capital city of Malaysia. Vicheka and I always try to spend a few days in Kuala Lampur because we are familiar with it and we love the cuisine there as well. Our favorite is the chicken, beef or fish that are cooked in clay pots, on the touristy Petaling Street.

The first time we had gone there together, I bought a cheap room, trying to save some money. Well, that was the last time I skimped on hotels, as I could not take a shower because I could not even turn my body in the tiny space. Live and learn is a constant, when traveling.

On our way back to Siem Reap, from Kuala Lampur, Vicheka. And her parents made it through the security, but I was held up. My ticket name, Benny Mailman, did not match my passport name, Benjamin Mailman. Needless to say, I was not a crowd favorite with the ticket folks I had to deal with. It was not a shiny moment for American-Malaysian relations. I had to call the airline and have them change my name to Benjamin on the reservation, which was apparently a task beyond the capability and understanding of my new frustrated cohorts.

I had already resided myself to a night alone in Malaysia, but my limited sprinting capabilities were enough to squeak out plane admittance, much to the joy of my wife and inlaws, who were laughing as I approached. I was not quite at the laughing point yet.

I never thought that the next travel Vicheka and I would do, would be to the United States, but here we are. I took her to Phoenix, Sedona, Tucson, Denver (where we had snow, in May!) and then to my parent’s farm, in Cataract. We met my great friends along the way, including Rick, who we surprised, early in the morning. Life is amazing, and quite a journey. I value all humans I encounter, some for the experience, some for the friendship and all for the understanding that we are all connected.

Stay awesome Monroe County.

Benny Mailman, Monroe County Herald, Finding 42, Travel, Sparta, Cambodia, Siem Reap


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