Cambodia

We’re just preparing to leave for Siem Reap Airport to leave Cambodia and set off for three and a half weeks in Vietnam. This first week has flown by and I’ve been surprised at how much I’ve loved this country that we tacked onto our trip almost as an afterthought.

So I want to spend a few moments reflecting on this experience with you, dear friend.

What we’ve seen

We arrived in the capital, Phnom Penh, and spent 2 full days looking around it. As many visitors do, we went to visit S21, the school where thousands of people were tortured into giving false confessions about crimes they had committed and were subsequently executed. To think that humans are capable of such atrocities, such hateful acts of violence and cruelty, is unthinkable. I don’t understand the lure of power that pushes men and women to act in such ways and it’s difficult to imagine that similar things are taking place around the world today.

After this we went to the Killing Fields, where thousands of people were killed en masse under the Khmer Rouge. Some people survived the brutality of this regime and their stories were shared on the excellent audio guide. One of these stories has stayed with me. A lady had just had a baby when the Khmer Rouge came to power. She was put to work in the fields and, on no more than a few bowls of watered down rice soup a day and hours of toiling in the fields, was unable to produce enough milk for her baby and was only able to feed him at night after 12+ hours of gruelling work. And sadly, but not surprisingly, her baby died. I cried for her – the distress she must have felt at not being able to do enough for her child, how she’s still haunted by her past to this day – and it put my challenges breastfeeding Jenson into perspective. It’s been a bit of a struggle but I’ve had access to support, time to rest up, the ability to switch to formula if needed, a supply of supplements…everything I could wish for. I’m so very lucky and I have nothing to complain about.

Travelling with a baby

Jenson has been such a delight on this trip. Sure, it’s not like a trip without a baby – I watched one film during the 17 hour flight and was stretched beyond my means when we arrived in Cambodia having only had 10 hours sleep over 2 days and was faced with a baby who was wide awake.

But it’s been as I had hoped. Jenson loves being out and about in Asia. He has smiles for everyone we meet and is content to be in his baby carrier as we explore everything around us.

He’s also been happy to have naps on the go so we’ve been able to have dinner out each night and have been up at 4am to watch sunrise over the temple of Angkor Wat. He’s been a real dream.

It’s also been amazing to see him take his first bits of food over here. A bite of some watermelon, a nibble of some vegetables (all safe stuff, before you start worrying, mum!). Seeing him grow and develop and take more and more stuff in on our journey.

Highlights

There have been so many amazing things that we’ve been lucky to see. Here’s just a few of them:

  • Cycling around the red dirt roads of rural Cambodia
  • A visit to the houses on stilts and boat ride on the Tonlé Sap lake
  • $4 massages!
  • Delicious noodle soup for breakfast
  • Exploring the temples of Angkor

So many things that have opened my eyes and brought a smile to my face.

The people

Oh how I’ve loved the Cambodian people I’ve met. They’ve been through such atrocities less than a generation ago and yet they are truly warm, welcoming and always seem to have a smile of their faces.

And they have been beautiful with Jenson. I can’t count the number of people who have asked to take photos of him or have held him whilst we’ve eaten dinner or had a massage! They are such wonderful people and they have made this time here so special.

Right, got to dash to the airport so will stop here! It’s been an incredible start to a trip of a lifetime.

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