Monday, June 22, 2009

Arrival in Cambodia

Left San Francisco at 1:30ish a.m. on Thursday June 18th. Arrived in Taipei at 5:30ish a.m. twelve hours later on Friday June 19th. Just a 3 1/2 hour flight to Phnom Penh and at 9:30ish a.m. I arrived.

Da was there to greet me. I almost thought I wouldn't get out of the terminal because I had to check in my carry-on suitcase and didn't realize that it would actually be put in with the checked bags and not returned to me after disembarking the plane on arrival.

Once realizing my mistake I had to convince the airport staff to take me through customs and to the baggage carousel to wait for my carry-on. "Why would you leave your valuables in that suitcase?" She questioned. "Because I wasn't told that they wouldn't return it to me immediately after the flight." (Duh!)

So, after a little delay, I got my suitcase and headed back to get my visa, go through the checkpoint, pick up my other suitcases and go through customs. Easy peasy.

It was so good to see Da after more than 1 year. We took a minivan to a hotel in the city where I could shower and freshen up. I was actually surprised that I wasn't more sore from the long flight. I was worse after one night on the crummy hotel bed.

We walked down to Soriya Market for lunch and to do a little shopping, then back to the hotel for a rest. I met the staff from Heritage Watch at 3:00 p.m. Then it was back to the hotel again where we met up with Da's brother, Houy, and a cousin for a short time.

The plan was to have dinner at the new KFC (I know, eating fast food in Cambodia is not exactly a thrill.). Unfortunately (or fortunately), I fell asleep and was out for the rest of the night. No KFC on that day. But, there's one coming to Siem Reap soon!

On Saturday we took the Capitol bus at 10:15 a.m. (more like 10:45) to Siem Reap. After 2 stops we arrived at about 4:30 p.m. at the Old Market where his older brother was waiting to pick us up and drive us to the office/room where I'll be staying.

It's nothing special and quite far off the beaten track. The hope is to find something else really soon.

After dropping off the luggage we headed up up to Prie Khmeang to see the family. Everyone was so excited to see me. My Khmer did not kick into overdrive, though, and I felt like I had gone back several paces in my ability to communicate. We had dinner there of some kind of soup and fried pork dish. They were good. I like eating his mom's cooking.

Sunday would be a big day as it was the ceremony to bless his sister's baby and to release her from sleeping over the heated bed. We had to be there before 9:00 a.m. for the ceremony attended by the older people, including his grandfather who led the ceremony.

The baby is very quiet and calm. I haven't heard a peep out of him. And wouldn't you know it, but Da gave him the name of James without even knowing that it was my dad's name.

We stayed the afternoon. It was hot and uncomfortable. It took Da nearly an hour, after several tries, to hang a hammock for me to lay in. I was glad to have it eventually cause my backside does not enjoy sitting on all of the hard surfaces around here.

We got back into town just in time to refresh ourselves and go to the Christian Fellowship of Siem Reap. It was great to see some familiar faces and reconnect. I look forward to more time to spend with these folks.