This is the final blog from Cambodia. How did my day go? We decided to sleep in. Sleeping in for me is still getting up early. I rolled myself out of this huge comfortable bed at around 7 AM and dragged myself down for lots of coffee and some fruit. Tanked up on coffee. Then went back to my room and fell back to sleep. This habit of mine where coffee does not effect my sleeping greatly puzzles Olivia. The only other person I know like this is Andy and he even drinks more coffee than I do. Bolted out of bed at 11:30 and realized that Kimsru was picking me up at noon.
Ran down to the lobby and waited for Kimsru. Zayaa was off visiting the local museum. Kimsru showed up and off we went. She first needed to eat lunch so she took me to a very nice Khmer restaurant off of Pub Street. Pub Street is the main drag in Siem Reap where there are lots of restaurants and shops. The heat and humidity was starting to build. What does Kimsru have in such heat and humidity but hot soup. She would get along very well with Olivia. Their eating habits are very similar. What did I have? I had a big pancake made into a sandwich with fresh bananas in the middle. Super great. Also had two large iced coffees. I always have room for more coffee. It was onto walking around as long as we could. I remembered a beautiful jewelry store that I had previously shopped in. All hand made jewelry by local silversmiths. I had to buy Olivia a gift. She is upset with me for staying away for so long. When I buy her gifts I feel her presence with me when I am away. She is the jewel of my life and buying jewelry is a great gift since it takes up little space. A few nights ago I had seen a necklace that I wanted to purchase for her as well. The store was closed then. We found the store and the necklace was still there and I struck a deal. Deal done. Hope she likes them. By this time Zayaa had joined us and we decided to go back to the hotel and get out of the oppressive heat. Kimsru picked up her motorbike at the hotel and told us she would WhatsApp us when we should meet at the pool. One last long dip. I then went to my room to try and decompress. At 5 Kimsru met us and two scholarship graduates, Channa and Saving joined us. Konnitha and her beautiful daughter showed up later. We all stayed in the pool until 7 and then went out for dinner. I love the tofu here. It is great. Furthermore, when you go into most restaurants, you are served family style and everyone all eats together. Kimsru told me that when she was in the US, she could not understand why we all eat separate meals and do not share everything.
It is now 10:30 PM and I am trying to summarize my trip here. How uplifting the trip was. To travel into rural Cambodia and give lectures to students I had never met. To witness how these students and their families live and be amazed by their fortitude and desire to better their lives through school. To be accompanied by Zayaa, my tour guide from Mongolia. To see her experience things she had never seen. To show her the Cambodia I love and have her understand and fall in love with the people. To pay another visit to Angkor Wat and walk around the beauty and magnificence of this site. To go to Kulen Mountain with thirty five students and the staff. Seeing the local people enjoy basic things that most of us could not understand. To give lots of talks to the Scholarship students and tell them stories. To take them to the Landmine museum and talk to them about the bravery of their grandparents and parents. To stress upon them the importance of saving their families stories and history to pass onto their children. To go to the butterfly sanctuary and walk around such fragile beauty after seeing the horrors of the Landmine Museum. To see how they love to hear my stories and look at my pictures. I could go on and on. Its the people that bring me back to Cambodia. My ninth trip was very special. I feel so comfortable when I am around the people. Their gentleness and kind and soft manners are so refreshing. They have become very special in my life.
Hope everyone has enjoyed this segment of our journey. I know I loved it.
I would love to hear from you and hope everyone can come to Cambodia one day and meet these amazing people.
Now where to next? We leave tomorrow night at 8 PM on Cambodia Angkor Airways for a five hour flight to Beijing. We arrive in Beijing at 2 AM. I am going on a two week tour of China on a photography trip. I will be with seven other photographers and Andy and Kevin will be the leaders. We will also be accompanied by a local pro photographer. Why did I want to go to China? After jumping through hoops in obtaining a Chinese Visa and trying to download and set up WeChat I wondered why? Most of the trips will be in rural China and away from the big tourist attractions. Of course, we will visit Tiananmen Square, the Great Wall and the Terracotta Army. I have always wanted to see the Terracotta Army through my camera. For me, this is reason enough to go to China. I will be writing my daily blog and try to describe what I am seeing.