How Cambodia Gave Me The Inspiration to Start Rogue Spices
The adage goes, “Which came first, the chicken or the egg?” This question often surfaces for backpackers, just in another form, “Which is better, to visit as many countries as possible or to invest time in one country in order to intimately understand it?” As unanswerable as it may seem, I am going to provide a point in support of assimilating into one country versus scraping the surface of many.
Counting passport stamps can be fun. It is a way to clear the haze of remembering when exactly I visited El Salvador. Telling friends the amount of countries I have visited is great if I enjoyed bragging. Also, the story of waiting at the United States of America Embassy in Laos for additional pages to be added to my passport would be great if it was not so boring.
My love affair for Cambodia began as its history unfolded before my eyes. Soon, the exotic food- mangosteen, mango squid salad, fertilized duck eggs, fried tarantulas- seeped through my skin and the blood in my veins was replaced with the Khmer language and cultural oddities.
Being diametrically different from anything I have experienced, Cambodia gave me the tightest bear hug, with claws deeply sunk into my skin. The grasp vowed never to tire. Over the period of a few years, my passport began filling up with one-page Visas from Cambodia. Thankfully there are no visitation restrictions like Thailand; I could even purchase a one year Visa (it was tempting)! The impressiveness of how many documented countries I have visited shifted to, “Why do you keep returning to Cambodia?” As the memories of a few days ‘experiencing’ Costa Rica fade away, similarly, as passport stamps become increasingly faded, I reflect on those valuable times. We can choose our actions, but often not the outcome. And while I chose to visit all those countries, there is a feeling that Cambodia chose me. Ultimately, though, if I had not decided to stay a little longer in Cambodia, my company, Rogue Spices, may never have been established. Because time stopped for me in a little gem of South East Asia, I am able to offer arguably the world’s best Peppercorn; that’s right, what was once traded as currency can be enjoyed daily as an ingredient in your food.