Life in the Yellow Zone

or Just Like Riding a Bike

or Please Don’t Run Over Me

or Don’t Eat That Pepper

After getting hopelessly lost on my way to work this morning I knew the day get only get better. In my defense, I was using the out-dated directions from the website and had almost made it to the old office…

Thankfully Yut, one of the PEPY Tours tour guides, rescued me on his motorbike, delivering me to the office in one piece. Aside from a relaxing lunch at the market, I spent my day learning about PEPY Tours and reading articles about responsible tourism to get a feel of the “PEPY voice”.  I will apologize in advance, in the future, my posts will probably be very “responsible tourism” themed. I feel like I’m learning a new language, discovering words and terms for ideas have always held and am now able to express. Two uniquely PEPY terms have been on my mind all day: Fun B and Yellow Zone.

Fun B refers to activities that are difficult in the moment, such as hiking up a hill, but provide lasting enjoyment, i.e. the sunset seen from atop said hill; as opposed to Fun A or immediate enjoyment like eating an ice cream. I can already point out several Fun B moments from the past few days and am thankful I stuck it out.

Yellow Zone is my favorite term, referring to a 3-zone scale: green, yellow, and red, in which green is your comfort zone, yellow the learning zone, and red your panic zone. By design all of PEPY Tours’ trips take place in the Yellow Zone, providing participants the opportunity to learn and experience new things in a safe environment. One of the big differences about my time in Cambodia versus someone passing through, my Yellow Zone will eventually turn green.

Although I did have a few brushes with the red zone today.

I finally took my landlord, Phearun, up on his offer to borrow his bicycle. Like Sarah told me during our brunch, locals never walk anywhere, and after sweating through multiple shirts I understand why. Looking back, I probably should have eased into cycling around town instead of diving in during rush hour traffic… at night… but hey, Fun B!

The whole ride into the city center two sides of my brain duked it out for control. One side calming telling me, take it easy, get comfortable while the other screamed, FASTER! You can make it through the intersection before that bus!

I made it, by the way.

Exhilarated from the ride, I met up with Jenna for some much-needed curry at the Golden Temple. Busy making plans to explore Angkor Wat and scope out cute backpackers I crunched into something that definitely wasn’t a carrot. Worse than the time I was cooking curry and managed to get pepper oil in my nasal passages and eyes (I thought my face was melting off) alarm bells starting clanging in my head. Not wanting to seem rude and spit out the ball of fire disguised, I continued chomping, tears streaming from my eyes. I felt like I had swallowed hot coals and could feel the burning mass descend slowing towards my stomach where it’s still smoldering. But other than the molten lava pepper, the curry was delicious.

Cycling back home in much lighter traffic I couldn’t keep my mind from wandering. If life in the Yellow Zone means making new friends, conquering Siem Reap’s rush hour, and taming demon chili peppers, I don’t want to live anywhere else*.



*Note for my Mom: By “I don’t want to live anywhere else” I mean I want to constantly experience new things. I will come home.  : )

2 thoughts on “Life in the Yellow Zone

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