This morning was an unusual day. First off, I woke up at 2 am with a gurgling in my stomach that was not good. A few of us ate something yesterday that wasn't quite right and we felt more than a bit dyspeptic. I was thinking maybe I shouldn't wander too far from a bathroom today when I realized that we were boarding a public bus for a 7.5 hour trip to Battambang for the Asia's Hope youth conference. I remembered John McCollum's advice and immediately started pounding Imodium and even started my first dose of Cipro. I shot an email out to my friends and family asking them to pray for an uneventful trip and thanks be to God, I didn't have any incidences on the way. In fact, I felt great.
When I boarded the bus, I went to my assigned seat and there was a small boy sitting in it. His dad and little sister were in the seat next to them. Apparently, they couldn't afford to buy three tickets so they bought one hoping to all pile into one seat. The man helping to board the bus went to my row and told the little boy that he would have to give up his seat and find somewhere else to sit. So his dad just sent him back in the bus hoping that he might find a vacant seat. The bus was full so the little boy came back and just stood next to my seat in the aisle way. I felt really bad, so Jackie and John shared their two seats with Carson for the first half of the trip and I sat with Teddy, and then we switched for the remainder of the trip so the boy could sit with his dad. I did eventually get my own seat. We dug out a few lifesavers candies and gave them to the kids; they thoroughly enjoyed it. I got the impression that they don't get treats like that very often.
The bus ride was actually enjoyable. We saw some rural areas, rice paddies and shanty towns that we hadn't really seen in the capital city. The road was lined with large buffalo, children on bicycles, crazy looking DIY tractors and moto riders carrying massive loads of produce, rice, scrap, metal...you name it. The bus stopped 3 times for people to get out, stretch their legs and grab a snack. They also had squatty potties for those who needed them. I'm not a big fan. It's basically a toilet that is level with the floor and in order to use it, one must squat over top to relieve themselves. Kinda makes you feel like a WWII bombardier trying to hit your target. On the positive side, you never have to actually sit on anything. I've seen some nasty toilet seats in my day. When you have finished, there is a trough full of water with a bucket. You pour the water into the potty to flush it. Pretty gross but it could be much worse. If you ever visit SE Asia, I highly recommend bringing at least one pack of flushable wipes. In the squatty potty, you are supposed to wipe with your hands and then rinse your hands with the water. Eww. No toilet paper is present.
The drive, overall was actually pretty entertaining. Riders got off where they wanted off and once in a while someone would hop in en route.
The hotel here is really nice. It has a swimming pool and very nice accommodations. We all grabbed dinner at a nice restaurant and then took a dip in the pool. It was a refreshing way to end the day.
Battambang is the second largest city in the country. The traffic is much less crazy compared to Phenom Penh. Think Columbus traffic vs. NYC traffic. We found a place that will rent motos for $7 a day and are picking them up after breakfast. Should be an exciting and fun way to see the city. We are going to spend the morning with the kids at the youth conference then check out the bamboo railroad this afternoon.
All of us are feeling much better this morning. Thank you for keeping us in your payers.