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Published: June 10th 2017
Geo: 11.5625, 104.916
Yesterday I was in Sydney, Australia, and now, through the magic of flight, I am back in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. After spending a month in New Zealand and Australia, in comparatively luxurious digs the whole way, re-seeing this part of the world is a wrenching experience, something that had not occurred to me when planning this trip. I don't know how I could have done it differently, but going from wealth, which makes life easy, and comfort, which is addictive, to a third world country where most don't have a whole lot of either, is a transition that will take some time. The last time I was here, two years ago, I was coming from a flooded relatively unknown town in Thailand, with all the trash and smell and poverty that doesn't get recognition or the money that poured into Bangkok to help clean up that big waterlogged city, so I was "used" to the noise, stench, rubbish in the streets, stepping over uneven or sidewalks demolished in the flooding, being a target for motor scooters and cars. Today I think I'm a little in shock, but it will pass as I tuck my memories of New Zealand and Australia away, and try to open my eyes to new experiences, new impressions. It's a difficult transition, however, to get re-used to seeing men urinating right in the street (haven't seen a woman do this yet), children walking around in very dirty clothing, people sleeping on tables in their market stalls, dead rats on the street, and garbage everywhere; in fact, I do not remember Phnom Penh being this dirty two years ago! But it is now.
Tomorrow Mr. Huit will come in his tuktuk to pick me up at the Spring Guest House ($9/night for a walkup room with a bed, a fan and hot water), and we'll take two hours to get to the children's community, where I'll again be volunteering for a month. I'm sure there will be changes there too, and the children will have grown, but I will try to see it again with new eyes. I have looked forward to being with the children since I left; now I am almost back.
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