Spoiler: We eat spiders. If you do not want to see photos of this, then you may want to read another post. (May I suggest this one? It’s about the best cupcakes I’ve ever had. It’s totally safe and spider-free.)

The outdoor patio at Romdeng.

 

On our last night in Phnom Penh, we had dinner at Romdeng. Nicci had read wonderful things about it. It was a training restaurant, part of Friends International, an organization that provides assistance to marginalized children and their families throughout Asia. The bulk of the staff at Romdeng are former street kids (along with a few of their instructors).

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In transit.

I’m sitting here in a chilly, air-conditioned San Diego hotel room, thinking about home. I haven’t quite figured out how I’m going to get back there. In two days, I’m supposed to fly to Seattle out of Los Angeles. I have made exactly zero plans to get to Los Angeles in order to catch said flight. Changing my ticket to depart out of San Diego is, for the time being, prohibitively expensive.

Consequently, home feels very far away. And it will just have to remain so, I guess.

In the meantime, I find my thoughts wandering back to Asia. During that trip, home didn’t simply feel distant – it felt like another planet. Like no amount of flying would get me there. There were days when this bothered me, and days when I didn’t mind so much.

One hazy day, towards the end of our time in Cambodia, we visited a floating village. We passed by schools and stores, and yes, homes, bobbing up and down on the water. At that moment, more than any other, I missed Rand.

I wanted to dive into the water, and pull myself out on my doorstep. (more…)

We were originally going to fly from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap. We had booked our flight, but Nicci told me she wanted to see more of the countryside, and suggested that we take the bus instead. Tickets were $15, and they picked us up from directly from our hotel and took us to the bus depot.

The condition of the road on which we traveled. These children took it to and from school.

The vehicles, part of the Giant Ibis transport fleet, were newer (“We just got them from Korea,” someone explained), supposedly air- conditioned and outfitted with WiFi, though I can’t properly endorse either claim. Our seats were at the very back of the bus, where the cold air did not reach. From my vantage point I could see a sea of heads in front of me, all of them bent in frustration over their handheld devices, in hopes of being able to check their email or send a single tweet.

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I think it was Nicci who found out about the Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Center, and suggested that we go there. I would like to take credit, though. I think that it’s on par with discovering fire, or inventing the wheel, or figuring out that Junior Mints should be stored in the fridge. These are important developments in humanity’s history. I really want to be the one who made the whole petting-an-elephant thing possible for me and Nicci.

But getting credit is not the important part (she said to herself, unconvincingly). Nor was it petting the elephant (she said this even less convincingly. Seriously, who the fuck was she kidding?) No. The important part was that we got to support an international organization that is trying to make Southeast Asia a safer place for both animals and humans. (Yes.)

But also? I got to pet an elephant. (YES.)

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