Posted by: សារ៉ា(Sarah) | December 16, 2012

Flashback, Part 3

Dark and early the morning after graduation we were off for a trip to the beach.  The students had planned the whole thing but insisted that they weren’t going without their teachers.  Of course, we were delighted to join them for one last special event together before we all went our separate ways.  Also, after times of working hard, especially extended times of either school or ministry, it is nice to “come apart and rest awhile,” enjoying nature and learning object lessons as Jesus did with His disciples.  This was an opportunity to do just such a thing with our student-friends.  Many lessons were learned and shared, especially during the long travel time or walks along the beach.  Enjoy the pictures and cultural tidbits!

Happy travelers – Laura and Sarah.

More happy travelers (from the same row of seats as Laura and Sarah) – Niet, Jive and Nea, with Sameth and Sophear behind. (Sameth is hiding beneath the white jacket – he remained in this position for nearly the entire 11 hour trip, and we marveled that he didn’t suffocate himself somewhere along the way!)

Breakfast along the way. We enjoyed fried vegetables and noodles on rice, plus more leftovers from Tob and Nico’s engagement party. Everyone pulled up a pair of flip-flops or squatted Asian-style wherever was most comfotable and convenient.

A waterfall in the Cambodian “mountains.” It was so far away that, without the aid of the camera, one could hardly see it. The 12th graders were all so excited they were clambering over the top of one another in the van to try to see this marvelous sight, and they were rather puzzled by their teachers’ lack of enthusiasm. Laura and I just looked at each other and wished we could take them on a drive through The Gorge.

We stopped at many little Cambodian rest stops along the way. This rest stop was a little different than the other ones we went to – in the picture you see some of the many spirit shrines there. Our drivers stopped to offer incense and bananas to the spirits to ensure a safe passage through the upcoming section of hilly, curvy road – a very unusual thing in Cambodia. I was told that many accidents happen along this stretch of road, not so much because the road itself is dangerous, but because the drivers believe evil spirits inhabit this section of road and cause accidents. Because of their fear, they drive faster than they do on the usual flat, straight sections of road, which causes them to be much more careless in their driving.

While our drivers made their peace offering, we enjoyed stretching our legs and looking around. The view was glorious!

We even saw some monkeys (at least 20 of them) while we were there. It was fun to watch their antics as they chased each other up and down and around the trees and branches. They were about the same size as house cats, or maybe just a little bigger.

We even saw some monkeys (at least 20 of them) while we were there. It was fun to watch their antics as they chased each other up and down and around the trees and branches. They were about the same size as house cats, or maybe just a little bigger.

Jive and Sarah enjoying the view.

We stopped at other rest stops along the way, as well.  They are an interesting experience and I decided I rather enjoyed them.  The restrooms are usually quite clean, but that’s not the best part.  As you are trying to extricate yourself from the tangled, half-dazed, half-still-sleeping mass of humanity, blankets, pillows, and backpacks inside the van, you are greeted at the door by several little Cambodians, each carrying a tray or two of goodies to sell.  They were always surprised to see Laura, Caleb, and me emerge.  Their eyes would get very wide, and they’d step back for just a moment.  But when we’d smile, they’d smile right back and proceed to try to sell their tempting delicacies.

They had everything imaginable – and unimaginable – as well! Boiled wild potatoes. Whole fried birds, less than five inches long. Pineapple. Fried grasshoppers and crickets. Guava. Various kinds of fried beetles. Green mango and chili salt. Fried tarantulas. Pomelo. Boiled peanuts, and many other delectable (depending on whom you ask) food items.

The rest stops also had little shops, like at the market, where you could buy larger quantities of whole fruit, cookies, crackers, and all sorts of other edible items.

Finally, after nearly twelve hours of travel, we arrived in Sihanoukville. We stayed at the Adventist church there. The pastor, who is the brother of one of the house parents in the WPY orphanage, and his family welcomed us warmly. This was the first place in Cambodia that I have been where they actually have running water in the building. I’m so used to pumping water from the well and carrying into the house in buckets that I’d forgotten what it was like to turn on a faucet!

Sophear and Caleb, excited to have finally arrived at the beach.

Laura and Saram.

Sarah, Chhorvy, and Laura watching some of the others playing “Monkey in the Middle” with a soccer ball.

Jive and Niet.

Donna and Nea.

This is a jellyfish that washed up on the beach; it is about the size of the palm of my hand. We spent a good portion of our time in the water, playing in the gentle waves that would roll in. We found if we went out to about shoulder depth, we could avoid the jellyfish that tended to prefer slightly more shallow water, although I think everyone felt a bit itchy from time to time – we concluded the itchiness came from small tentacles that had broken off the jellyfish and were just floating around in the water. For a short time, several of the boys decided it would be fun to try catching the jellyfish in plastic bags. We had one large plastic bag, which we dug a hole for in the sand. Several jellyfish were captured in smaller plastic bags and deposited in this makeshift aquarium where we enjoyed watching them swim around and observing the different colors – white, brown spotted, and blue spotted. Sadly, no one was around with a camera while we had our mini-aquarium. After enjoying the jellyfish for a time, we released them back into the ocean. Unfortunately both Caleb and Chantha were stung by a jellyfish, but no lasting damage was done (we quickly washed their stings with pure water and rubbed them with freshly cut limes) and their stings both felt fine by the next morning.

Lucky and Sophear.

Chantha and Caleb are building sandwats (wat is the Khmer word for temple or pagoda), another favorite pastime anywhere one can mix sand and water. In Cambodia, knights and castles are as foreign to them as monks and pagodas are to those of us in western countries. The first time I asked a student if she was building a sandcastle, she looked at me in confusion and asked, “A sand what?” Then, as if realizing I was asking what she was doing, she explained, “I’m building a sandwat.” The sand in Cambodia is an interesting texture; when mixed with water it makes these nice little “blobs” that are perfect for building sandwats. It’s fun to see how tall of a wat you can actually make before the top breaks off.  Of course, you can get a taller wat if you build it on a phnom (the h is silent), or, mountain.  (Yes, Phnom Penh literally means “Penh’s Mountain.”  The name comes from Wat Phnom (“Mountain Temple”), legendarily built by Lady Penh, an old Buddhist nun.  The capital city grew up around this wat on the phnom.)

Sophear and Chantha enjoying the waves. This is how we spent a lot of our day.

Our group (minus Sameth who took the picture). Front row, left to right: Chantha, Sarah, Teav, Lucky, Donna, Laura, Jive, Pisei. Behind Lucky is Niet. Back row, left to right: Savorny, Srei Nea, Saram, Sokea, Sophear, Caleb, and Chhorvy.

This concludes the series of flashbacks.  We hope you’ve been blessed to see God’s working, learned a little more about the culture, and enjoyed these little glimpses into some important events in the lives of WPY students and teachers.


  1. Looks like lots of fun. So glad you got to have fun times and see beautiful sights.

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