We have now been in Cambodia about 4 days. The journey has been both exhausting and joyful. The kids did incredibly well traveling for 36 hours. The most helpful assests for traveling around the world with 4 young children have been... lots of prayers (thank you to those who prayed for us!), presents to offer for good behavior, pillows, an overnight layover after 20 hours in the air, and plenty of good flossing (just kidding about that last one.)
The only kink in our travel was the passport check as soon as we reached Cambodia. They forced us to seperate but wouldn't let us get the right passports matched with the right people. And it was the first part of our journey in which no one spoke English. It was very stressful for me, but I realized later that it was my "western" mindset that cared about the passports being with the right people, the government officials didn't really seem to care.
Once we got our luggage we were met by our friends Doug, Heidi, Taylor (7 yrs old) and K.C. (5 yr old.) They took us to Dairy Queen at the airport. What a radical change from our greeting in Kenya where we arrived in the middle of the night with no one to greet us or speak English and a civil war going on. That still amazes me.
We spent that first night at Doug and Heidi's house in Phnom Pehn, then went out the next day to see some of the town and grocery shop. Heidi and I, and my 3 oldest girls, rode in a "tuk tuk" which is a little open aired carriage pulled by a scooter. We had a car hit the tuk tuk in the first 5 minutes, but no one seemed to notice much except Heidi and myself. It's a bit like a circus with chaos on the streets, scooters and big cars and trucks weaving every direction, combined with bikers and pedestrians. Much like any other developing nation it seems.
After one more night in the capital we all piled in a van and drove 5 hr northeast to a smaller town, called Chlongg. It's a town where the Collins lived for 2 years, with their teammates, doing church planting work. We went because Doug (who is a family practice doctor) organized 2 1/2 days of medical outreach. The drive was a tiring experience, but Hadiah was thrilled when we stopped for lunch and she was able to hold a "pet" tarantula a little girl was holding. In the past, when Dasen was here 2 years ago, he ate one. This time Taylor bought one cooked and we took it to Chlongg. It sat on the main table in a baggie until I asked if we could throw it out. I got a good laugh out of that, realizing the humor in the fact that I actually had to ask "Can we throw this tarantula away?" Who know I would ever say those words so nonchalantly?
The visit in Chlongg was intriguing as we were able to interact in rural Cambodia life. The first 2 nights we were there, there was a funeral. That meant loud music blared with "chanting" mixed in, and the religious chanter had some sort of head and chest congestion. He would cough and sneeze and hack into the microphone. This would start at about 5:30A.M. and go all day, then have loud music until around midnight. We were relieved when that ended, but then the next night a wedding party started with blaring music at similar times. The wedding music had a stronger bass; so although the music was more upbeat, it also shook our beds.