The most basic negative of travel is the jet lag, and it hit me hard even after I somehow managed to pass out for 18 hours upon arrival.
This inability to sleep, combined with the novelty of having a TV in my hotel room means I’ve watched too many hours of Hindi and Korean soap operas, as well as the Cambodian karaoke channel.
It’s better than waking up at 4 a.m. and trying to force myself back to sleep through pure willpower or calling friends and family until they’re sicker of me than they were when I was stateside. Plus, it lulls me back into a half-sleep so I can pretend I’m getting used to the time change
Until I was in middle school, watching TV meant pulling the contraption down from the closet in my parents’ room, dusting off the screen and adjusting the rabbit ears until you could kind of make out what was on the screen.
The only movie I remember watching before age 11 is The Sound of Music.
My knowledge gap was the cause of much ridicule and play-by-play recreations of shows by my friends in an attempt to assimilate me into popular culture.
Now, I’m the one trying to explain what my fellow students are missing by spending their mornings practicing broken Khmer on the poor hotel bartender. If you’ve ever seen one of these shows, you’d understand.
They’re similar to telenovelas, with extended shots of people staring at one another suspiciously. The best one so far was part of a Hindi drama where the grandmother didn’t say anything but claimed at least half of the screen time.
Through the magic of English subtitles, I kind of understood what was going on and convinced myself I learned a few words in Hindi, making it all worthwhile. The only word I remember is “sister-in-law,” though, and that won’t do me any good until my 16-year-old brother wifes up.
Until then, I’ll keep up my early morning studying. I guess eventually I’ll get used to the time change and have to give up my entertainment, but who knows. Maybe I’ll permanently become one of those early risers who enjoys the sunrise daily.