Back home in Cambodia

Over the last 48 hours, we've driven through mountains, walked in the pouring rain, flown across both the Bay of Bengal and the Gulf of Thailand, ridden in buses, vans and tuk-tuks -- and we're finally unpacked and rested at our hotel in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

All of us are tired, most of us have flirted with some kind of sickness, and two of us are on the powerful antibiotic Cipro. We miss our friends and family in India, but we're thrilled to be back in Cambodia, which has become a real home-away-from-home for my family over the past few years.

We were greeted at the modest but tidy Pochentong Airport by Savorn, our National Director, his wife Sony and all of our Phnom Penh house parents. The Asia's Hope kids were all in school when we arrived, so our reunion with them will have to wait until tomorrow, but it was great to be hugged warmly and welcomed heartily by these people we've grown to love so much.

It's Addison and Jared's first time here, and I think they're just taking everything in: Cambodia can be a bit overwhelming to first time visitors, but heck, we just came from India. This place actually feels a bit serene compared to Mumbai, Kolkata and some of the other places we've passed through. 

By the time we got to our hotel, we were all ready for a nap, but I had promised Addison and Jared we'd go out to a tailor to get measured for some shirts (about 1/6th of the price we'd pay in the U.S.), so we left the girls behind and headed out via tuk-tuk to the Khmer Independent Tailor on Sihanouk Boulevard. We placed our orders, grabbed a SIM card for my phone and picked up some necessities (and a couple ice-cream bars) at Lucky Market.

Tonight we're going to have dinner with the staff, get a good night sleep and then spend the morning intoducing Addison and Jared to Phnom Penh. We'll grab a bowl of noodle soup, visit a tea shop and then spend some time at the ever-sobering Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum. After lunch, I think we're heading out to Prek Eng to see the kids and visit the new campus for the first time since its completion!

The only things that could put a damper on our great times would be sickness...and traffic. I'm driving a huge van -- a mini-bus, really -- to accommodate our family, the guys and the team from Scarlet City that will be joining us next week. I've never driven anything this big anywhere, and driving in Cambodia can be zooey even in a small vehicle. Oh, and I don't have a Cambodia license. So, I'm praying for traveling mercies, and would invite you to do so as well.

I'll be keeping a few loose dollars on hand in case the coppers pull us over and trying to concentrate on the road and remembering how to drive stick. Here goes nothing!

John McCollumComment