I have finally reached my destination, Siem Reap Cambodia. How and when did I get here? My nonstop flight was supposed to leave from Newark (NYC) at 1:55 AM Monday morning and fly nonstop to Hong Kong. Only a sixteen hour jog around the world. The plane took off at 2:30 AM and shortly thereafter I fell into a sound sleep. What a sleep I had. How do you cope with a sixteen hour nonstop flight? The answer is to sleep for over twelve straight hours. Did not take any sleeping pills nor medication. This was a marathon sleep. I woke up and was told that I missed two meals, but the third one would be served within an hour. The person sitting next to me told me that I snored. I felt bad but felt great and refreshed. I was now determined to stay up. Found lots of “Curb Your Enthusiasm” reruns and got down to staying awake. They served breakfast and we finally landed in Hong Kong. The airport in Hong Kong is beautiful and modern. I checked my connecting flight and then found an oasis. Starbucks called. I was even able to use my Starbucks app to pay. All my prayers are answered. I am content with the world. It was raining in Hong Kong and my flight was delayed for around 90 minutes. Finally off we went into the flying blue yonder.
Cambodia is one hour behind China or eleven hours ahead of NYC. We finally landed in Siem Reap and what was the first thing that hit me as I was walking out of the plane? A rush of hot and humid air engulfed me and I finally knew I was in Cambodia in May. Went through all the immigration and customs nonsense and picked up my beautiful new North Face suitcase. As I walked out of the terminal I was greeted by Sarrak, Kimsru, Konnitha and Manin. How I have missed them all. Their smiling faces were so beautiful. After plenty of hugs and kisses we were finally off to have lunch. We went to a great vegetarian restaurant and some of the dishes were hard to decide if they were meat or not. The mushrooms were fantastic. It was then off to hotel. I must put high praise on Konnitha for arranging rooms at a beautiful hotel at a very low price. The hotel has a beautiful pool, big spacious rooms, great A/C (the most important item) and a warm and friendly staff. PERFECT. I then spent around three hours taking a long cold shower and moping around. Hope moping is spelled right now. I have previously defined moping, but if anyone needs an explanation, please email me.
At 3:30 I was picked up by Manin and Kimsru and taken back to the Pepy offices. I said my hellos to the staff and then was brought up to meet the new scholarship students. I introduced myself and explained to them who I am and why I am here. We talked about lots of things and they were full of questions about me, my travels and my family. All in due time.
It was then to the airport to pick up Zayaa. How do I remember Zayaa? She is this beautiful Mongolian woman who is full of life and energy. Zayaa is exactly as I remember her. She is now finishing up her masters in Social Anthropology and cannot stop talking. What a couple she and I make. Both of us continually talking with Kimsru adding her comments and Manin just looking on in wonder. We took Zayaa first to the hotel. She couldn’t believe the scene in front of her. Trees and plants that she had never seen. People in motor bikes and weird looking vehicles and of course there heat and humidity. Having never experienced these conditions, I told her to drink lots of water all the time. We checked her into the hotel and went for dinner. The people of Mongolia do not eat fish so we ordered lots of fish. Zayaa tasted squid, salmon and a large grilled local fish for the first time. She enjoyed sampling the different spices and local saucers. We all talked so much that I was becoming exhausted from the talking. When dinner was finished, we decided to walk around the area. Zayaa was surprised by the vendors selling pineapple, papaya and mango. She had never tasted papaya so we gave it a go. Finally we stumbled on the misunderstood one. Durian was starring me right in the face. Couldn’t resist the taste so we had some hacked in half and scooped out. I dove right in and enjoyed every mouthful. Zayaa took the plunge and enjoyed it. I have now converted another poor soul to the world of Durian and the misunderstood fruit. It was then off to get our feet cleaned and taken care of. How do you do that in Cambodia? You sit on a plank and put your feet in a large tank of small fish. These fish nibble at your feet and clean them the old natural way. This activity has been banded in America by the local Dept of Health’s. The fish were particularly interested in my feet. Their meal was at hand. Zayaa put her feet in and Kimsru was constantly laughing from the tickling of her feet by the fish. Would this work in Mongolia? I don’t think so.
The heat has finally gotten to me and we went back to the hotel to shack out.
Tomorrow is full with lots of activity and excursions into rural Cambodia. More on that tomorrow.