It has been too long since I posted. I have had a super busy schedule since my last international trip to Paris in October. This month brings me to an adventure of a lifetime to Cambodia. I am accompanying my friend and travel sister Kate Travis. Our purpose here is multi-faceted. We are exploring the region and an organization called SSF – Sao Sary Foundation – led by a beautiful man Vichetr Uon. The SSF is located in Kampong Speu, a small rural town situated just west and south of Phnom Penh. We have spent our first 5 days there in this poverty stricken area. It has heartbreaking on many levels and yet inspiring. Inspiring to the strength and resiliency of the human spirit.
We left Dallas on Saturday, June 1 at 12:10pm. Getting here was a marathon, 16 + hours to Seoul Korea, but bearable on the beautiful Korean Airlines. After the first leg of the flight Kate and I were exhausted. We were met by a beautiful young man at the Seoul airport – Beyone – who escorted us to the Airline Club where we stayed during our 2.5 hour layover and enjoyed some hot coffee and food. Our 5 hour connecting flight arrived in Phnom Penh Cambodia around 9:30 pm Sunday night, June 2 – we pretty much slept through the whole flight with the exception of a brief time to enjoy a well served and delicious dinner. Arriving at the airport in Phnom Penh we get through security and got our visas without any problems except for me getting in trouble a couple of times for having my camera/video going (damn photojournalists!).
Vinchetr “Uncle Vic” (founder of SSF) and his assistant Sitaa met us at the baggage claim with warm smiles and drove us to the SSF – an hour drive along a dark and what smelled and seemed to be a pretty dismal part of town – actually outside of Phnom Penh. We arrive around midnight at the hostel and again are warmly greeted by a few of Uncle Vics staff of young people who helped us up four flights of stairs to our little room #401 that was perfectly cleaned and the bed dressed with new pink and white linens. Best part was the private bathroom! YES! Emily, a beautiful young girl – I’m thinking about 16-18 years old, was our hostess and retrieved bottled water and towels for us, making sure we were settled in before she left us. Oh and did I tell you it was hot? I snapped the photo on the left on my phone when we arrived – it was sweltering! But thank God, Buddha, Moses and Jesus – we had a small air conditioner in the room!
After arranging our luggage and brushing our teeth, we climbed into bed, turned on our wave sounds and settled in under the cooling fan for a welcomed sleep. There was no connectivity by the way – no cellular service (BTW, I’m thinking ATT needs to refund me for the “International” plan they put me on so I could talk on the phone from Cambodia – I still have no cell service!). We did learn the next morning that we could get a fairly good Internet connection only when we were downstairs in the dining hall.
We woke up pretty refreshed at 6:02 am – I think crossing that International Date Line did something to my old internal lizard clock. Since I have been here I wake at sunrise and pretty much crash after dark – so unlike me! But the funny thing, we had absolutely no jet lag. We get down to the dining hall and enjoyed a cup of Starbucks instant coffee that we brought along with us (compliments of my friend Stephen!) and granola, reviewed the videos from our travel day and get set for an amazing adventure. We were going to the slum projects and had no idea really what that meant. Oh and did I say that it is hot as hell here?
More to come so stay tuned to find out what we are discovering in this far away land.
Love and Peace – ALWAYS