Last day in Phnom Penh

Phnom Penh Travel Blog

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the mighty mekong

My last day in Phnom Penh my hosts took me for lunch at a typical Cambodian restaurant.

We bumped down the dusty road to Siem Reap and pulled over abruptly on the side. There was a wooden frame hut and a platform. The dining rooms were open thatch roof huts raised over a swamp on stilts they were connected by rotting pier like walkways. It was all very rustic and quaint we sat in hammocks the table was a straw mat on the floor. We had a kind of egg crepes filled with meat, nuts, and vegetables and a spiced green mango salad. I had to pick up the saucers from the table before the ants got to it. For dessert I suggested we pick some mangoes from an orchard below but they sent me to get some sticky coconut jelly at a road vendor instead. We pulled a rope to lower a bamboo shade and played cards. Jean taught me a few French card games that were basically games like bridge and rummy with French names.

After we went to a hotel downtown for a swim on their rooftop pool. The air was balmy and moist. I did my laps and watched Jean float on his back, his paunch bobbing in the still water. The view from the roof was the brown Mekong, the sounds of the city and honking autos blended with the pool pump.

Sally told me a their long story of building a mission in Cambodia the rough start, the long plodding years, and the political instability. “So what makes you stay?” I asked. “Well here we’ve had our ups and downs and we don’t know what the future holds for us. Still, we know that God wants us to be here right now and that’s the most important thing for us.” I asked about support from the organization and the internal infrastructure and their relations with organization administration. This was a more sensitive issue I could sense mixed feelings on it.

“We’ve been here for a long time. We’ve pioneered and done much on our own. We have our faults but we have tried…” I knew myself that administration was often in the hands of directors in centers in other countries, contact with these administrational centers and the local missions was somewhat limited. Still, I have to remember to be unbiased and take all sides into consideration. Rather than go by hearsay its always better to witness conditions first-hand and find out for yourself where things are at. “There’s been misunderstandings and mistakes have been made by everyone, of course we’re not perfect…” Jean was nodding in agreement “We have to leave some matters in the Lord’s hands.” He said with a shrug. “Yeah, I suppose” I said noncommittally but I wasn’t too sure. I thought we were all supposed to have a common goal, what’s going on here? Over the years I have developed strong opinions about distribution of power and governing. I’ve had my share of regimentation as well as self-rule in my life. I have seen some things I didn’t understand in the region and questions started rising in my mind, but then again maybe it’s just me and my anti-establishment mindsets.

I bought a ticket for Poipet at a bus depot outside the central market. I had a long trip back to Bangkok the next day. 

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the mighty mekong
the mighty mekong
Phnom Penh
photo by: terminalfunk