May 2018 has to be the most memorable month of service for me. This is when my parents from America came to Cambodia!
We were really worried at first because it was supposed to rain every day during my parents' visit, but every day gave us the perfect weather for us to tour the cities and meet the families.
A few hours before I went to pick up my parents, it rained heavily. It was the first monsoon rain I saw in Phnom Penh. I was worried roads would be flooded, but thankfully, it stopped in time for my parents' arrival. My parents were arriving pretty late at night so TJ helped me go to the airport and pick them up. Even though it was such a limited time, I'm so glad my parents got to meet TJ. We literally came back to the hotel, grabbed some food, and unpacked the whole night till we passed out around 3am.
We toured a bit of Phnom Penh in the morning. We went to Wat Phnom, Tuol Sleng, Central Market, and Russian Market. We ate Bai-Sac-Cruk (Rice and Pork) for lunch and my parents quite enjoyed that. They didn't like the boiled pork soup though. After that, we went to visit my PST (Pre-Service Training) Host family in Kandal. It was supposed to be a quick visit but it turned into a BBQ party. Everyone was so friendly to my parents. Even though my PST host family didn't know English, and my parents didn't know Khmer... the smiles and the translator (me) was all they needed to get closer. Before dark, they helped us go back to Phnom Penh with 2 cars. It was the King's Birthday so we were supposed to see fireworks together, but it didn't happen because there was so much traffic. One of the cars didn't even reach river front so they decided to go home. The host family members who drove us stopped in front of river front. We invited them to eat Indian food dinner with us, which they did but absolutely hated. After that, we parted ways. I introduced my parents to my favorite nails/massage place before going back to rest at our hotel.
We woke up at the crack of dawn to leave for Siem Reap. Even though it was far, it was such a relaxing ride because we rented our own car and driver for 3 days. The car was a minivan so we get to sprawl out in every row and do whatever we wanted. We stopped for breakfast on the way. We had Way Ti Yo (typical khmer noodle soup) and my parents said it was decent. Once we reached Siem Reap, we took a long lunch break. We had more Khmer food. My dad had the chicken curry and my mom had the bread and grilled beef. My dad thought it wasn't bad, but my mom said she didn't like it. After that, we went to freshen up and go buy early tickets (for the temples) in the evening. Our driver graciously took us to East Baray after that for some sightseeing and dropped us off at the Old Market for some shopping. We had American food this time, so we ordered whatever suited us. We walked around Pub Street, had some desserts, and did more shopping. My dad couldn't take it anymore so he went back to the hotel first. My mom and I arrived back a bit later, just in time to go to bed for the early morning the next day.
We woke up super early again to go to Angkor Wot, Ta Phrom, and Bayon temples. While we appreciated the architecture and the history, it was far too hot so we didn't stay long at each place. The sun was super strong so we couldn't even get good pictures in some places, especially at Angkor Wot so we resorted to using the photographers there and paid $2.5 for each photo. I though it was expensive but my mom was quite satisfied with it. We were supposed to meet Cheyenne for lunch but we finished early so we had some nice coconut juice and went shopping at Lucky Mall. Once Cheyenne arrived, we had Shabu Shabu for lunch and then headed to Kampong Cham city. I was sooo happy Cheyenne came with us because she will get to know my biological parents better, see my Kampong Cham city, see my village, and meet my host family, health center staff, and students. Once we arrived in Kampong Cham city, my parents passed out from exhaustion so it gave Cheyenne and me time to get some drinks and catch up. We had Kampong Cham's best pizza and more drinks. My parents later joined us to walk around the K Cham City. We took pictures with the K Cham sign, the bridge, and took a stroll to the night market. We called it a night after that.
Thankfully, we were able to sleep in and got a full 7-8 hours of sleep. Sadly, for my mom, she was up since 4am because she was still jet legged. We grabbed breakfast at one of K Cham's finest cafes: Destiny Cafe. My parents and Cheyenne are all coffee nuts so they enjoyed the strong coffee. The breakfast was delicious too. We then headed to my village. On the road, my mom, Cheyenne, and I prepared gifts for all the people I know in the village. It was quite a feat! Once we arrived, we said hi to my host family quickly and then headed to the health center. We conversed with the health center staff for quite long. Everyone was so friendly towards my parents. Later, we walked over to the high school. We greeted some people, and then headed back to my host family's home. My host mom went all out for lunch. She prepared my favorite khmer foods Ban Hoi and Nom Kway Chao. She even bought a table to the living room so that everyone could eat there. Sadly, right after lunch, we had to send Cheyenne off to head back to Siem Reap. Once we've said our goodbyes and she departed, my parents and my host parents sat down together again so that we could hand out gifts. After that, it was time for my host dad to go back to work so he recommended my dad take a nap in the nice cold room, which he did. My mom and I unpacked and repacked my mom's suitcases in the living room. Afterwards, my mom kept me company as I packed my suitcase in my room. It was a nice down time because my parents get to experience my village life and we get to slow down for once during this hectic and fast paced trip. After I was finished preparing my things, we woke my dad up to leave. I remembered my dad being a little weird about using my bucket shower to brush his teeth. My host family was waiting with all the snacks and fruits so that we can eat some and then take them for the road. After we said our goodbyes, my parents and I headed to Phnom Penh. My parents and I had some time to kill so we decided to go to Aeon Mall. I wanted to show them the developed parts of Cambodia too. We had Korean food for dinner and did some last minute shopping before we head to the airport. Finally, we ended up at the airport around 9pm for our 11:30pm flight. Emirates always boards early so we were there in perfect timing.
Then, our Myanmar vacation begins! My parents and I haven't been to Myanmar together since we immigrated to the US so it was quite nice to go back together. However, my mom and I stayed with my mom's side of the family and my dad stayed with his side of the family. We only saw each other every few days, but it was good enough. I was able to meet some of my close friends and spend quality time with my cousins too. We stayed about 9 days in Myanmar and soaked in some sun and fun. We went to Ngwe Saung beach and Hpa An state. We also celebrated my little cousin's birthday... and finally it was time for us to leave for the US (for my parents) and for Cambodia (for me).
All in all, it was definitely an eventful trip!