We spent the day touring Angkor Wat and a few of the surrounding temples. The rain held off til the last minute and it was a beautiful day.
The team is taking a two day break to visit Angkor Wat and the Siem Reap area. After 6 hours of bumpy back roads we arrived this afternoon just in time to check in at the hotel and meet our rides to the ATV Quad tours I had set up a few months ago.
The fresh rain, kept the dust down and the mud soupy! A great time was had by all!
We followed it up with dinner at my favorite Cambodian BBQ place.
I took a few minutes to shoot portraits of each kid today in their new PE2 soccer jerseys designed by yours truly. I'm so blessed to know each one of them.
I don't think human beings get much more beautiful than this. If a picture paints a thousand words, then meeting them paints a million.
Today was a sunny and hot day compared to the rest of the time we've been here. Our team came prepared for some indoor fun! Bags of duct tape were turned into wallets, flowers, purses and bags, and we spent some time cracking open some new card games and learning them together. It's always a challenge explaining new games with the language gap but that's all part of the fun. Games are approached differently here than they are in the US. When someone is out, they don't complain, or argue, they just step out til the next round. You don't here anyone say something isn't fair or accusing others of cheating. In fact, they spend much of their time helping the others in the group to play their cards. The fun is in playing the game itself. This doesn't mean they aren't competitive but it's a perfect balance. Our kids could learn a lot from them.
I've never been anywhere with so many national holidays. It seems like there are always several of them each time I visit. The one we are experiencing currently is celebrating the return of the deceased kings ashes to the royal palace (which is less than a block from our hotel). They announced the holiday about a week ago and closed banks and schools, restriped the roads, painted the curbs, painted the trees, hung loudspeakers with dangling wires all over the area. These loudspeakers come on at 5:30am promptly blaring Buddhist chants and prayers, general announcements and traditional national anthems for the rest of the day. There is a reason they are called "loud"speakers. There is no sleeping past 5:30 around here. Things should return to normal after tomorrow.
The last two nights they have had fireworks over the river and yesterday they wouldn't allow us to leave the hotel until after the kings ashes and the whole procession passed our street. For security reasons we were not allowed to be on any balconies. There was ton of military in the area and helicopters watching from above. Pretty crazy. We were able to slip out front and sit on the sidewalk to watch the procession go by with the locals. It was really cool to be here for such an opportunity.
The kids at PE2 treated us to an afternoon of traditional music and dancing. It was beautiful. Afterwards we all prayed for the kids, for their health, their future, their country. Narun and Sopal are such amazing parents!
One of the craziest restaurants I have been to in my life. So glad we ate there.
Today is our second day in Phnom Penh and it has been so full I haven't had a chance to post. So here it goes.
Arriving at the new campus for the first time was so exciting for me. When we were hear last may we saw the structures of three of the buildings in progress. Now the school building and all five homes are finished and full of amazing, energetic kids, all on the same campus.
Getting off the van at PE2 bring back the sense comfort and close ties with my friends here in Cambodia. The kids are growing, healthy and strong and ready to play. A couple of them look like they aged quite a bit while others look exactly how I saw them a year ago. But the smiles and friendship remain the same. We spent much of the time getting tours of the new campus and meeting the parents at the other PE homes. We played frisbee, kicked the soccer ball around. Many of the girls hung out inside and did Tali and Brianna's hair.
Before we left, Thad got out the soccer uniforms we had been working on for the last couple of months and we gave one to each child. When we showed up to church this morning, they were all wearing them. They look awesome!
After church this morning we had lunch at PE2. Grilled beef and khmer curry soup with rice, pineapple and dragon fruit. It was really tasty. I'm so proud of my dad for not only trying new food but going back for seconds. It's been an extra fun trip having my dad and sister as part of the group.
This evening we are throwing a dance party for the entire Prek eng campus. Food and everything! When they announced it this morning at church the whole place erupted! Can't wait!
I'll be posting photos if I can get to the market and buy a USB adapter for my ipad. We'll see.
We are here. Safe and sound after 30+ hours of travel. So happy to see Narun and Sopal and some of the kids waiting for us at the airport. Lots go hugs took place!
It's now 2:30 am and we are all checked in for the night. I'm headed to bed. It's been a very exhausting day.
I am one week out from heading to Cambodia with a team of 14 people from my church to hang out with the amazing kids and staff at Asia's Hope's Prek Eng 2 chidren's home. As the trip grows closer, I find myself able to think more about the trip and less about the to-do list of client projects that needs to be wrapped up before I leave. I've been able to get so much done in the last few weeks! Many thanks to my amazing clients for being flexible with my trip schedule.
I've been looking forward to going back since my family's visit last May. I'm especially excited about introducing the team to a new culture and the opportunity to finally meet people they have heard so much about but never met.
I will be using this blog to collect my thoughts and as a place to share our trip's adventure. Stay tuned.