Cambodia, Day 13 (Aug. 10, 2007)

Took the bus from Sihanoukville to Phnom Penh. Once again, seven people and ten backpacks made it to the station in a Camry.* The poor driver is going to need new shocks after toting us around.

Speaking of shocks, our bus could've used some. I don't know what cow/pig/motorbike we ran over, but after hitting a huge bump in the road, we bounced our way back to Phnom Penh, forward and backward like a see-saw. Strangely enjoyable experience despite the lunatic, horn-blowing driver with a death wish.** Okay Guesthouse sent tuk-tuks for us ("Mr. Brad!"), so our second trip to Phnom Penh was much more pleasant than the first.

After getting settled in our rooms, we went to the Russian Market to replace Brad's backpack, in which we had just discovered a large tear that couldn't be repaired. On the way back, Map asked if we wanted to make a donation of food to an orphanage. Of course we said yes, so we stopped at a market and bought a 50 kilo bag of rice as well as a bag of soap. We drove to the CamboKids orphanage ( and found 147 orphans living in abject poverty, but they were all sweet, bright and outgoing. A tiny, 10-year-old boy shyly followed me around the whole time, and I spoke to him in my broken Khmer. When it was time to leave, he stared at the floor and waved goodbye without looking at me. I opened my arms and he flung himself onto me, giving me an enormous bear hug. I've never had maternal instincts, but leaving that child behind was one of the toughest things I've ever done.***

For dinner, we ate at Friends (, a restaurant dedicated to saving and educating street children. The six of us sat around the table sharing tapas -- everything from fresh fish to pumpkin soup -- and we washed it all down with mint citrus coolers. It was the perfect ending to our trip.**** We head home tomorrow while Meg, Eric, Phil, and Maya travel to Kratie and then to Laos. I'm sad to leave, but hopefully we'll be back one day. Chum riep leah, Cambo.

Brad's footnotes:

* We've since bought a Corolla. I can't help but thinking the surprising versatility of this Toyota somehow contributed, psychologically, to this decision.

** It might've been one of those water buffaloes. Whatever we hit was big. The bus's engine light came on afterward, and I swear to god the driver nudged his buddy sitting beside him, pointed to the light and laughed.

*** We'd first stopped at a market next to the orphanage to buy some rice and toilet paper to give to the place. I stayed with the tuktuks to make sure our bags weren't stolen. The little orphan kids started climbing all over the cart like it was a set of monkey bars. It's at this point that a creepy old man comes up to me, smiling, and asks, "Do you like leetle children?" Not sure if he was trying to sell me a child or sell me an
experience with one. Ick.
**** This unfortunately named place will have you singing "I'll Be There for You" for days. But the food is so darned good. Totally worth it. (Stupid Rembrandts.)

No comments: