Our Journey Back to Cambodia

Posted by: Cyndi Hansen on Wednesday, December 17, 2014 at 12:00:00 am

We hope you join us on our journey back to Cambodia together - mother and daughter!

Most everyone has a favorite travel memory?  Today, I would like to share with you my favorite travel experience.  

23 years ago, I had a scary incident flying to Spain on a sales incentive trip.  At the time, being quite young, I considered the whole “near crash” experience an adventure, a story to tell.  Little did I know that the experience would lead into a “fear of flying”.  For almost 10 years,  I refused to get on a plane.  I had developed a "fear of flying".   This irrational fear literally stopped me from experiencing the world like I had once dreamed of doing.

Flash forward to 2001, the year my daughter Nyalaree joined the family.  She was abandoned in Cambodia and was residing at an orphanage.   Days before she was to come home, 911 occurred and then a moratorium on adoptions.  In fact, even though Nyah’s adoption was a legal completed adoption, the US government would not issue her a Visa. As a result, I had no other choice, but to get on a plane and fly clear cross the world to fight for my daughter’s freedom.    That is another story (the adoption fight).  However, the story I would like to share with you, is my personal experience of living, seeing, eating, and breathing another culture. 

I did get on that plane in January 2002.  Shamefully only with the help of prescription medication :).   After 20 hours of flying time, I arrived in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.  What happened over the next 3 weeks changed my life forever.  Of course the obvious, my beautiful, now 13 year old daughter, is home.  But, I have to say that the 3 weeks in Phnom Penh were the most captivating experience of my life. 

Cambodians are beautiful people who, at the time, were just coming off the Pol Pot regime, so much recent heartache, where an estimated 2 million people were killed.  The countryside was beautiful and the scenery was unique, breathtaking.  I had never seen anything like it before.  The culture was rich, with mix of languages, lifestyles and the traditions embracing.  The French/Asian cuisine the best I have ever eaten.  My experiences included visiting the orphanages, walking through the local Markets, visiting Angkor Wat, hopping on the back of a motorbike touring Phnom Penh city.  And I’ll never forget enjoying my morning coffee on my hotel balcony watching an elephant stroll down the main street of Phnom Penh.

You see I had an epiphany while in Cambodia.   I realized if I had not managed my fear of flying and made the decision to get on that plane, I would never of been able to experience my daughter’s birth country, culture and history of where she came from.  I also realized that my unrealistic fear of flying was keeping me from seeing the world.  St. Augustine once wrote, “the world is a book, and he who chooses not to travel only reads one page”.    I didn’t want to be that person to only skim the book, but enjoy it from cover to cover.   I knew right then and there that my life would and needed to be filled with travel experiences.  Thus my life, love and passion in travel began.

So, December 26th, 2014, my daughter and I will be flying to Ho Chi Minh City where we will get on an Avalon River Cruise to Cambodia down Mekong River.  It is my second chance to fall in love with Cambodia all over again, and my daughter’s opportunity to see her birth country, experience the culture of Cambodians and develop a love of travel herself. 

I hope you will join us on this 9 day journey back to Cambodia, beginning December 26th.  A journey that may open up my daughter's eyes to a culture that she was born into, but never knew.   And a journey that may enlighten you, the traveler, to the wonders of Asia and a Mekong River Cruise.  



Cyndi; What a fantastic story! I can speak from the Grandparents side that Nyalaree is loved and cherished very much by her Grandparents. Looking forward to hearing of your journey. ONward,
Posted by: Bob Arnold on January 1, 2015 at 8:53:39 am

You never cease to amaze me........beautifully written words, coming from the heart and a memory that will stay with you forever.......I agree on the book remark..........and yes, you are an excellent story teller.........peace out my friend!
Posted by: Patti Harb on December 31, 2014 at 12:22:21 pm

I agree with Gail. Your writing is beautiful and engaging. Perhaps you should write a book, focusing on this journey and the prior one. You are an excellent story-teller and writer!
Posted by: Carol M on December 29, 2014 at 8:16:15 pm

Cyndi, you have come a long way in your life travels. I am very proud of you. This is a story-book experience for you and Nyah. Everyone is interested in Nyah's thoughts. It will be interesting to see how Nyah's homeland has changed. Are you planning to visit the folks who kept Nyah for you? Do they know you are coming? They will be so happy to see this beautiful young lady all grown up. I still love you, so you and Nyah stay real safe!
Posted by: Carol R McDonald on December 29, 2014 at 8:10:51 pm

Your writing is beautiful, and I love the opportunity to follow you on this incredilble journey.
Posted by: Gail Kerzner on December 27, 2014 at 1:47:53 pm

Leave a Comment