In November, my former roommate and beloved friend Jenn and her husband Matt visited us here in Cambodia, along with my dear childhood (and adulthood!) friend, James. Our first non-family visitors! They were here for six days, which made for a very fast trip, but we were so very grateful that they spent their precious vacation time with us! They arrived late on Saturday night, attended our two church services on Sunday, and then early Monday morning, the four of us (Nate stayed home with the kids–thanks, Babe!) took the 7-hour bus ride to Siem Reap to see the ancient Angkor temples, where I played tour guide for the first time (Nate usually has that role). We were there until Wednesday night, staying at a lovely boutique hotel, the Siddharta, and then enjoyed Thanksgiving with the ACTION Cambodia team and other friends on Thursday. Friday morning, I took them on a whirlwind tuk tuk tour of Phnom Penh (Matt was not feeling well, unfortunately–you’ll have to come back to see Phnom Penh!) and then they departed Friday night. It was such a joy to spend time with them, and to see then interacting with my little ones. Having such wonderful company is always a bittersweet reminder of how much I’m missing, and how grateful I am that I have something so precious to miss. Thanks, James, Jenn and Matt for sacrificing your time and resources to visit us all the way in Cambodia. We love you all and are so thankful for the memories made. It was fast and furious, but oh, so fun!
Taking them to Shalom Phnom Penh Church
On the road to Siem Reap
Sunset at Bayon
Having fun with the Bayon faces
James, the Apsara
One of my favorite ancient Khmer images–a beautiful tree. This one was at the wall at Bayon, but it can be found at the other temples.
Every visitor has to attend an Apsara show! (traditional Khmer dancing)
Sunrise at Angkor Wat–the main temple in Siem Reap, and all of Cambodia. It is featured on the national flag. This was my fourth time to Siem Reap, and my first time to view the sunset (since I didn’t have sleeping babies with me). It was definitely worth it!
The outer wall of Angkor Wat–Jenn channeling her Apsara-ness
Still exploring Angkor Wat
Jenn and Matt in front of the highest point of the temple
A random moto next to the ancient temple
Looking out from Angkor Wat
On to Ta Prohm, my favorite of the temples. If you’ve seen “Lara Croft Tomb Raider”, you’ve seen these temples.
Awww…the two tourist lovebirds
Taking in the view
This is probably one of the last places in the world where you can literally walk over the ancient stones. I’m not sure if that’s wise for future generations, but it sure is exciting.
This little Apsara face is hidden behind tree roots.
The possible stegosaurus, carved on the ancient walls
They’re restoring the temple, and I found this a bit amusing.
Back at home, reading with Uncle James
The model guest–doing mountains of dishes (and without a dishwasher or hot water!)
The annual turkey pastry for our special Thanksgiving breakfast.
Yet another power cut, so we began the Thanksgiving dinner in the dark. I love how normal it is, and everyone continues [almost] as if nothing had happened.
The Mayer family hosted Thanksgiving this year (Thanks!), and everyone brought various dishes to share. We stuffed our bellies with delicious food.
Ava sitting next to Vannak, my tutor and a translator at our ACTION Cambodia office. She’s always so excited to see “Bpue” (Khmer for “Uncle”) when he comes for my tutoring sessions.
So many of my favorite faces
It was truly, truly special to have James, Jenn and Matt with us for Thanksgiving.
Skyping with my U.S. family during their Thanksgiving meal. James is like a cousin, and my family knows Jenn too, so it was fun for them to see our visitors on Skype.
I took James and Jenn on a tour of the city. First stop–The Shop Too for breakfast–our favorite local restaurant. I introduced James to one of the employees who reminds me of James’ brother Reuben. It’s funny how many familiar faces I see here…seeing friends and family in Cambodian faces.
Stylin’ in the tuk tuk
We visited Wat Phnom, the supposed origin of the city of Phnom Penh.
I also took them to Toul Sleng Genoicide Museum, which is on the location of the former high school, turned into a prison camp during the devastating reign of the Khmer Rouge. One of the only remaining survivors, Chum Mey,
was at the museum, and I bought a signed book from him.
It felt strange to smile, knowing his difficult past.
The cell where Chum Mey was held.
Opening up packages from friends
The kids having fun with their new train set
Paton and his fellow Native Americans
Ava and James having a pillow fight
Ha, ha…love the mischievous look on Ava’s face.
Paton thoroughly enjoyed his new friend
Thanks for coming! We miss you already!