The Kingdom of Extremes, Cambodia

December 20, 2012
Current Location: Phnom Penh, Capital City of The Kingdom of Cambodia

As we’re about to leave Cambodia, I’m going to post some current thoughts out of order (skipping over December 15-19 for now). Cambodia has been such an experience of extremes.

  • If I had known that there would be MORE THAN ONE TOWN SPECIALIZING IN FRIED SPIDERS, I may not have booked this tour!
  • If I had known what an amazing person my tour guide would be, and how much focus she would put on understanding how terrible things are for the kids of Cambodia, and actually helping then out a little bit along the way, I would have made everyone I know come along with me.
  • I’m having a hard time not giving everyone all my money, knowing that each person is supporting 10-20 others.
  • Angkor Wat was everything I’d hoped, and more. Certainly worth waking up at 3:30am to get there for sunrise, and definitely worth getting a teeny bit lost from my tour group to stay behind and get the best sunrise photos.
  • My roommate is awesome. And I don’t normally do well with roommates.
  • In fact, I’ve grown to really like most of the people in the group. And of course moreso as I hear their stories. In the past day or two, they’ve gone from people I’m glad are around to stave off isolation, to people I enjoy seeing every day. It’s fun that there are 8 women traveling solo, out of 14 people.
  • Many of us appear to be slightly allergic to Cambodia. Since the moment we crossed the border, we’ve been itchy, without any bites.
  • Unexpectedly, going on the quad ride through the Siem Reap countryside turned out to be one of my top 2 experiences on this trip so far. Riding alongside the people on bikes, families on motorcycles, farmers walking their cows home on the road was a magical experience. I regret not getting any photos of the things I saw during the ride out before sunset, but I probably soaked up the peaceful, beautiful experience better that way.

I’ve had a stomach ache all day and haven’t been able to eat a thing. I was still able to do all the group things — including visiting the Pol Pot death camps and the Killing Fields, which was an extremely sobering experience.

Getting into the extreme poverty and horrifying RECENT history of Cambodia is awful and, honestly, makes me a little scared to be here. But it’s certainly putting my life into perspective in a very good way.

I wish that I’d thought to pack some of my son’s old clothes to bring to the kids here and in the mountains of Laos. (Apparently, it’s freezing and they can’t afford clothes – our tour guide bought 20 sweaters in Siem Reap to bring to the hill tribe kids in Laos.)

I’ll write it here to keep myself accountable — I need to make sure his extra stuff goes to kids who really need it. I’d like to figure out a way to ship stuff here after I get home, but it may be just as helpful to give it to a charity in the US. We always give everything to Goodwill, which is good, but it would mean something to me to give them directly to orphans.


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  1. Pingback: Processing Cambodia | Welcome to the Shelbification Summit.

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