Thursday, February 08, 2007

Phnom Penh - The Killing Fields

Tuesday morning Yve departed for Malaysia with Danny. We only briefly said goodbye because she was busily preparing to leave, and I was taking care of other things. I was missing her before she was even gone, mostly because I have the sneaky feeling she won't be returning to Shiyan. I may be wrong, but I think she's finally doing what she initially started out to do - travel the world - and I don't think she'd be happy returning. But it was fun while it lasted, and I have no doubt we'll meet up again, probably somewhere in Australia which seems to be her target destination for now.

Anyway, we left Tuesday morning for Phnom Penh too. The bus ride back was defnitely more pleasant for me than the bus ride to Siem Reap, though I can't say the same for Tommy. As we were being taken from our hotel to the bus station, he realized he didn't have his camera. Usually, he keeps it in my backpack that I carry with me everywhere for safe and convenient storage, but I checked my back a couple times and couldn't find it. So he jumped off the mini-bus, grabbed a motorbike back to the hotel while we continued on to catch our bus. Just as we were about to leave, eagle-eyes Janice spots Tommy on the motorbike, and Derek jumps off the bus to catch him. He just barely made it before we left! But he didn't find his camera so he was really bummed the entire bus ride back and all evening too.

When we got back to Phnom Penh, we took a tuk-tuk to a guesthouse we read about in Lonely Planet, and, lo and behold, the Lewises had just sat down for dinner at the same guesthouse! So while Derek and Tommy went to find a place for us to stay (this guesthouse was full), I sat down with the Lewises, and we caught up on each others adventures.

Not far from this guesthouse, the boys found a cheap hotel with an empty room so we booked it even though it looked really shady. We soon realized just how shady it was when we entered our rooms and saw the pink light bulb above our beds! I don't think I've ever been so uncomfortable in my life!! (-: But we fared the night well and left the next morning for the first guesthouse where the Lewises were staying. The Lewises left that morning for Siem Reap so we really just missed each other.

Oh, and while we were paying for the red light hotel, I reached in my bag and pulled out Tommy's camera. I don't know how I could have checked that bag so many times and missed it each time, but I did. Tommy was so happy to have it back that instead of killing me (like he had jokingly threatened to do earlier had I found it in my bag after he had raced back to the hotel and almost missed the bus to PP because of it), he gave me a big hug and turned back into the fun-loving Tommy we hadn't heard from since before the missing camera experience. But I felt bad and rather stupid for about 5 minutes afterwards, anyway!

Yesterday we went to the Museum of War Crimes. It's a museum set up in the old S-21 prison used during the Khmer Rouge regime. It's a really haunting place to visit, but I feel it's necessary, for me anyway, to see and acknowledge the horrible crimes that were committed during this time. After the museum, we went to the killing fields. It's not quite what I expected. There must be a school very near by because as we walked among the mass grave sites (large holes in the ground where hundreds of bodies have been dug up), we could hear children laughing and playing. It was eerie, but strangely comforting.

Yesterday evening we met with the Family here in Phnom Penh for their mid-week meeting. Derek went to school at Harding with the children of a missionary family here so we were able to arrange meeting with them. There were about 14 Americans, almost all older than sixty or maybe even seventy, who are here mostly on a short term basis to teach English and the Book. They were so welcoming, and it was so awesome to be able to sing and fellowship with them. It was really inspiring to hear their stories too because most have been working in missions around the world for a big portion of their lives. Spending time with them was like finding a piece of home in a really strange land - but I guess it's always like that with the Family.

Today we're meeting back up with the missionary couple Derek had connections with. We're going to have lunch together, and then they're going to take us to see their boat. They've recently acquired a boat that they're turning into a medical missions boat. They're going to travel to three different provinces along the Mekong River and visit poor villages offering free medical assistance (since they have no way of obtaining it themselves). Right now they're trying to get through all the governmental red tape to be able to sail the boat, and they're also in the process of interviewing and hiring Khmer doctors for the job of assisting the villagers. It's a really exciting endeavor, I think.

Tomorrow we plan to leave for Laos. At first, we had decided against going through Laos back to China, but everyone we meet who has been to Laos thinks it's one of the greatest places to see. So now we're really excited about the different things we'll see and do there. We don't have too much time before we have to be back for school so we're trying to make the most of the time we have left!

1 comment:

Ashley said...

Cool! You're getting to see the Mekong River Boat! I used to get periodic e-mail updates from Bill McDonough about the boat as they were building it. His photos showed the construction process. It was a big project, and has been several years in coming. I'm glad it turned out well.