Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Bright? Early.

Well, I would say that it’s bright and early on the morning of our first full day in Cambodia, except it’s not bright. Just early. Very early, in fact. It’s 4:58 a.m. Normal, non-jetlagged people would be sleeping, but Chien and I are not those people. [Interjection by Chien: “We are not those people, ‘cause we are cool!”]

No, we are not those people because our bodies are still jacked up from the day and a half of cross-global travel. Chien didn’t sleep very well on the long ride across the Pacific, but finally hit the hay hardcore on the 4 hour trip from Taipei to Phnom Penh. He slept so hard that it was impossible to wake him for his favorite part of any plane ride, the view just before landing or just after takeoff.

And what a view it was. We’re in the rainy season, and from the air, Cambodia is a watery wonderland, its lush green paddies, swollen rivers and serpentine streams slaking the landscape that lies parched for the other half of the year.

We arrived at the Pochentong International Airport a little after 9:30, muddled our way through customs and dragged ourselves out onto the curb where our friends were conspicuously not there waiting for us. Apparently I forgot to email Dave my itinerary, and no one knew when to pick us up. It was probably good that we did not have a huge welcoming party as we have in the past; Chien was more than a bit surly, and wasn’t much in the mood for socialization.

We grabbed a soft-serve cone at the airport DQ to adjust our bearings and our blood sugar levels. We then hailed a cab and headed to the guest house. We got there just in time to see Dr. John and his wife Bobbi ambling down our street. They let us in, I took Chien to find his bed, and he immediately fell asleep. I chatted for a few minutes and joined him in the bed and caught up on a few Zs myself.

At about 4:00, Chien and I grabbed a tuktuk (a small, motorcycle-driven vehicle about the size of a golf cart) and headed out to the Phnom Penh orphan home. We met Narun, Sophal and the staff there and then decided to walk toward the school to meet the children on their way home. Within a minute, we saw a group of kids in blue pants and white oxford shirts, and I said, “I think that’s them.” Within seconds, they also saw us, and the entire group quickened its pace, and met us with a swarm of hugs and smiles and, “Hello Daddy! Hello!”

We walked back to the orphan home with the kids and played for about a half hour – Uno, jacks, whatever they had lying around – and then we excused ourselves. I knew that neither Chien nor I would have enough energy to be engaging or affectionate for much longer. Savorn showed up in his car, and he drove us back to the guest house. From there, we joined Jessie, a girl from Wooster who is going to become an Asia’s Hope intern in Chiang Mai, Thailand, and we got another tuktuk and rode down to the riverfront where we enjoyed a meal at a Khmer restaurant. If only we hadn’t been so tired, we probably would have enjoyed ourselves a lot more.

Upon returning to the guesthouse, we hit the beds and slept fitfully until just a few moments ago. We’re planning on getting up in a few, getting dressed and walking toward the ‘Russian’ market, Psar Tuol Tompong. Chien is excited about watching the city wake up. He’s also stoked about changing some of his dollars into the local currency.

Although Chien was too tired to have much fun last night, he woke up this morning and said, “Dad, it’s so awesome we’re in Cambodia. I can’t wait to explore.”

Here are some of his thoughts about the trip so far:

“Cambodia is like a whole different world. In many ways, it’s not like China, but it does have similar smells, and reminds me of being in Asia. It’s hard to come without the rest of our family. I can’t really tell you what the food tastes like; I wasn’t really awake enough to eat it. Besides the fact that I’m jetlagging, I think that this is fun so far. I miss everyone from my class, but being in Asia makes me miss Jeremiah (Ong) specifically. If you leave a comment and ask questions, we will answer them.”

“Mom, Pak and Xiu Dan, I miss you a lot. Dan-Dan is always funny, but she sounds even funnier over the phone. Especially when she says ‘Cheebee’ for ‘Chien’ and ‘Shushi’ for ‘Sushi.’”


Anonymous said...

WOW, Just as I was ready to post, I got a video chat with the boys in Cambodia!!

What a blessing!


Anonymous said...

Chien, keep us posted on what neat things you find to eat, and what is gross, sorry I just missed you on chat. Keep your dad healthy and have fun shopping at the Russian market. Love Grandpa

Amanda said...

SO glad you're having a good time Chien! We miss you John! :)

mosiacmind said...

Hi...glad to hear how things are going..please continue Chien to keep us posted on what your thoughts are and like your grandpa said what is neat and what is gross. John will be eager to hear how the trip is all (there and here) continue to be in my prayers.....Liz

Tim said...

Glad to hear from you both. The pictures you posted are nice, too. Chien, let us know how long it takes you to recover from the jet lag. I'll second the request for a food travelogue: what's good, what's bad, what you'd never eat again, what you wish you could make here at home.

We miss you both.

mosiacmind said...

John...yesterday and today when I pray concerning the trip and asia's hope a phrase keeps coming into my head which I think is God and I think that I am to share it with you and that is years ago I heard a sermon where the preacher stated that on earth here with the spiritual warfare going on that often times the greatest resistance comes before the greatest breakthroughs and for you and the others not to get discouraged about timing of things...hope this makes sense.