Sunday, November 29, 2015

A Recap of Cambodia and Vietnam


Hello! 

By the time you read this post Dave and I should hopefully be home! We are currently in Qatar in the Middle East waiting for our connecting flight to Chicago. I think I have slept about 8 hours in the last 36 soooo let's just say jet lag is going to be my good friend for a few days. 

Today I'm going to share a recap of Cambodia and Vietnam. This is actually the 2nd time I am writing this post because the 1st one got deleted, which is a bloggers nightmare, in case you were wondering....

Processing these two countries, especially Cambodia, was really hard for me. There was a lot of poverty there and some really hard things to see (I'll talk more about it in the post). I am also surprised because I don't recall a lot of other bloggers mentioning these things, which is fine, but there is so many difficult things there I don't know how someone could post about it and not share that side of it too. I understand being positive and I'm not faulting other bloggers but I think that a place like Cambodia needs to be understood for the good and the hard things. 

Cambodia! 

I'll tell you the highlight of our trip first but I have to give you a background story. 

The missionaries in Thailand that we stay with led a man to the Lord many many years ago. This man became the pastor of their church in Thailand. Then during his preaching he kept saying how more missionaries were needed and then .... God called him and his wife to serve in Cambodia. 

Pastor Sonthoon lives in Siem Reap, Cambodia. We got to visit with him over several meals, we got to meet members of his church, we taught a couple of English classes and he just shared with us about the highs and lows of working there. He also talked a lot about the poverty there and it was really eye opening for me. 

It was such a blessing to fellowship with him and to hear about what God is doing in Cambodia. 


Siem Reap is famous for the ancient temples of Angkor Wat. I think they were built during the 11th century so they are really really old. 

I'm going to be honest, and hopefully this isn't offensive, but I just wasn't impressed. Dave reminded me that going there was a good way to learn about why Cambodians believe what they do today and I agree that he is right. However, the temples themselves were dilapidated and I think a lot of the pictures I have seen on-line must have been photo shopped or something. 

I think a few things played into my perspective: I've been in Asia for a year and I've seen a lot of Buddhist temples. I also have completely different beliefs than Buddhists so it isn't sacred for me. To be honest, it makes me sad to see people worship there. After experiencing Jesus and the realness of His presence temples just don't cut it. We also had to get up around 5am to see the sunrise and neither Dave nor I are 5am kind of people. =)

I am glad we went though. The temples are HUGE and the parts that intact are ornate and interesting. I also loved the temples with the massive trees. I've never seen roots grow over buildings like that. 


After Siem Reap we took a super duper bumpy bus ride to Phnom Penh. Upon arrival we were swarmed by tuk tuk drivers saying "Do you want a tuk tuk? Where you go? Tuk Tuk?". We walked to our hotel, it was hot, I was hungry and then hangry and then I cried big fat tears when we got to our hotel room. ha ha! Phnom Pen was a lot like Myanmar and I just wasn't ready to be in that environment again. After cooling off and eating I felt much better. 

PP is known for 3 things: The Royal Palace, The Killing Fields and The S21 Prison. 

The Royal Palace is beautiful and highly recommend it! It isn't super crowded and is just a really neat place to see. 

If you go, make sure you have a shirt with sleeves. A scarf won't cut it and you'll have to be like me and buy one of their lame shirts ... ;)


The Killing Fields and S21 Prison 

This was definitely the hardest part about our trip. Even though it was hard, I highly highly recommend it. I think people who don't vote and those who don't get involved politically or study history should visit here. It is eye opening and it is so good to be educated because history does repeat itself if we aren't careful. 

The Killing Fields was a former mass grave where the Khmer Rouge violently murdered thousands of people. They are actually known for killing around 1.7 to 2.2 MILLION people and it happened during the 1970's. The tour at the killing fields is an audio tour and I won't go into detail of how they killed people, especially the children, but it makes my stomach ill. Even now, every few months, they have to clean up the bones that surface up. We even walked over some of them, it was awful. I'm not going to talk more about it on this blog because I know in a few months the nightmares are going to come. 

The Prison was just as awful and Dave actually would go into a room and tell me if he think I could handle it or not, which I didn't go into about 2/3 of the rooms.  

I do recommend reading this story right here. It is about one of the generals who murdered thousands of people who ended up coming to Christ. 

Sight of mass grave where tourists leave their bracelets for a remembrance
Cambodia was also difficult because there were so many poor people there. It was sad. You would eat and they would come up to you and beg. People, who had lost limbs to land mines, would ask for money. I don't fault them either and my heart hurt for them. 

If you do go to PP I would recommend at shopping at the local boutiques. You will pay a few more dollars but many of those shops give jobs to the disabled or those rescued from the sex trade.  

Sorry to be a downer about a country but it was just hard. I have talked to several friends who visited there and they said the same thing. I'm glad I could talk about it with them and process through it. 


Vietnam! 

Vietnam was an interesting and fun country. I never realized how influential the French were there. Many of the buildings are French looking and they have baguettes. Thank you France! 

We started in Ho Chi Minh City and then flew up to Hanoi. Dave visited several museums, we shopped the local markets and we just walked around a lot. We did go to the tallest building there for a lookout of the city. That was fun too. 

Something funny about Vietnam - the locals loved my wavy hair. Like they would touch my head and play with my hair and say "Oooh, it is like silk." ha ha! It was fun. 

Dave also bought a 3 layered North Face jacket for $37 so I say that is a big fat win right there. 

Food! You can't go there and not eat a ton of food. It was good! 


Lastly, we did a tour of Ha Long bay. We were excited to bask in the sun BUT it rained and was in the 50's. It was beautiful though and I'm really glad we went. To stay on the bay you take a boat trip overnight. The trip includes a visit to a cave, kayaking, swimming, a cooking class and awesome views. 


How could I forget Uncle Ho?!?! Ho Chi Minh is called Uncle Ho in Vietnam. At first I thought it was rude to call him that but it is a term of endearment everyone uses. And here is the real creepy part ... he died in 1969 and they have preserved his body. I guess it is a Communist thing to do that. We went and saw his body and it was the weirdest  thing I've ever done while traveling. So so weird.  
Okay, friends! That is the min recap of those two places. 
If you have more questions about our trip or about any of the places we visited please feel free to ask. 

If you missed my recap about Malaysia and Singapore you can check it out right here. Those were my two favorite places in Asia. 

1 comment :

  1. I just went back to my Cambodia posts from our vacation this summer and found this line from one of my posts:

    "It's difficult to know how to handle going on a vacation in a country still trying to recover from tragedy so devastating." - in reference to the war memorial in Siem Reap.

    We did find some of the ethical practice/fair trade/local/real small businesses to support while we were in Siem Reap surrounded by mass produced factory items in the other shops. I see glimmers of hope in the country (and my Dad was involved in a certain NGO there for years so I've heard and seen some of the good things that are happening there)...but there's such a long way to go for freedom and hope. When we left from our trip, my two sisters who are getting their teaching degrees right now were interested in possibly finding a way to get in to somehow work in education there someday.
    It's certainly not an "easy" place to visit, I remember having a heavy heart much of the time we were there--and yet it was a good experience for my family to just get away from the big city and be in the jungle together, away from our responsibilities and work here.

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