Well, for the next couple of weeks, I may have to depart from the one-word titles & accompanying definitions format. I will just have to resort to "reporting".
The alarm rang at 0445h on Tuesday, March 2 and I slowly got out of bed, got ready and threw those last minute items into my suitcase before getting into the limousine and heading off to Pearson after picking up Bonny, my travel companion/fellow worker. We really only experienced one minor glitch, which was getting some of the suitcases retagged after they were checked in, so they would be moved from the Air Canada flight to the Dragon Air flight in Hong Kong.
Nearly sixteen hours & 13 time zones later, we landed in Hong Kong and literally raced to catch our next flight with the help of Nick, a Dragon Air employee who greeted us when we disembarked from the Air Canada flight. He rushed us to the front of check-in counters, took us down Employee-only aisles in security and ran to gate 69 to make sure they didn't leave without us. The only hiccup here is that our bags didn't get on the plane to Phnom Penh, but I had been warned that that would happen so had tucked away a few necessities into my hand luggage.
We arrived in Phnom Penh at 1700h local time (0500h EST), exactly 24 hours after climbing out of bed. Visas were obtained, customs was cleared and we exited the building to be greeted by Beth, who arrived on Monday. It is so good to be greeted by a familiar face in an unfamiliar place, especially when you don't expect it! We then got in the hotel van and surrendered ourselves to Phnom Penh traffic.
Impressions at that point included...
lots of tourists from lots of countries--Germany, Australia, China, Singapore, Japan, Canada
hot, hazy, humid...it was 35C when we arrived
mama breast-feeding on a motorbike behind dad
three people on a motorbike
motorbike driver talking on a cell phone
motorbike drivers & passengers without helmets
traffic is an intricate ballet and the painted lines are relatively meaningless
lots of old buildings, many in decay
lots of new construction, mostly funded by foreigners
everybody sells something
We are in a hotel frequented by Westerners. Not the Holiday Inn, but for $30USD/night, you get a clean room, laundry every day & breakfast. Once we were settled, we walked down the street to find somewhere to eat. Lots of restaurants (the smells were divine!), lots of tuk-tuks (motorbike taxis), lots of people. At the restaurant we ate in, we had probably the best curry I'ved ever tasted! Children came to our table wanting to sell us bouquets of jasmine. Beth made note of the scars across their chests and commented that while they aren't being trafficked sexually, they are still being trafficked; they see none of the proceeds from the sale of their flowers. When we declined, they just moved to the next table, and then to the next restaurant.
A good conversation was had with Beth about the plans for the next two weeks. The original idea was to do a business assessment at Daughters of Cambodia. This is probably going to change. They are opening up a cafe/gallery and are hard-pressed to get everything done on time for their targetted opening date. They need someone to manage the completion of the storefront (me) and someone else to train the managers & staff (Bonny). The key here is for us to be flexible. It may change again. The bottom line is that we are here to accomplish God's purposes, not our own.
Brian McConaghy came & joined us during dinner and filled us in on a few things going on. I can't say too much here without first vetting it through Beth, but please pray. These endeavours are under forceful satanic attack.
After dinner, we went on a tuk-tuk ride. This city is alive with people and activity. Children everywhere, dirty and needy. One little boy came asking for my bottle of water, which I gave him. Brian told us that these children have no access to clean drinking water, something we take for granted. People walking up the streets with pushcarts containing the artifacts of their lives made me wonder if they have a place to go, or do they find a new place each night. Barbeque "restaurants" on every corner, bursting with people sitting at tables on the sidewalks. In other areas, there are groups of people hunkered down in tight, dark circles. In contrast, there are many, many new vehicles. We watched one that was double-parked just being pushed out of the way (we think that they park them in neutral), so that a car that was blocked in could get out--that was quite the manouevre! If you look up, there are balconies everywhere, many crowded with people either busy with their own activities or observing the sights below.
There was much, much more but I am tired and need to sleep. Check back....there'll be more!