- Incentive Travel
Day 4 - Phnom Penh – A joyful reunion
Today we are in Phnom Penh, a bustling city with so much to absorb. Our day began with a cyclo tour. Nyah had her own cyclo and every time I looked over at her, she had a huge smile on her face. They cycled us through the city to the Royal Palace. The cycle tour was about 30 minutes and it was fun as they maneuvered their way in and out of traffic. While we were waiting to get on the cycle, many of the men circled Nyah with huge smiles on their faces saying, “are you Cambodian?”. Nyah was a little taken back at all the attention, but handled it very well. They smiled at her continuously probably wondering what her story was.
I loved the fact that Avalon arranged for us to get on cyclos to see Phnom Penh for the city tour. We saw other tourist groups get on buses instead and we definitely had a much better perspective as you can imagine. I mean we are in Phnom Penh for pete sake, I wouldn’t want to get on a bus.
My first thought while we were cycling was the town had not changed at all in the past 12 years. Memories came flooding back to me of sights, smells and events I had since forgotten. We arrived at the Royal Palace to begin our tour. Here many of the landmine victims are here hoping for help. We are asked not to give as then they will bombard future Avalon guests. But some of us, including myself, could not resist dropping a $1 in their hats. Nyah was a little overwhelmed at their disabilities and had many questions in regards to the landmines. What an education she was getting. I thought to myself this is far better than being in class at the moment.
While at the Royal Palace we also visited the Silver Pagoda which had 5 tons of gleaming silver floor tiles. Then from there we went to the National Musuem, which houses the world’s finest collection of classical Angkor period sculptures.
After we returned from the National Museum, Nyah and I headed out to meet Molavy and Chan. Chan and her daughter Molavy took care of Nyah for many months when I was stalled in securing Nyah’s visa. I was so grateful for them as I was then able to pull Nyah from the orphanage into the arms of a loving family while we waited the long torturous wait. Chan especially grew very attached to Nyah during this time. And since then they have traveled to the states 2 times to see her, but have not seen her since she was 5 years old. Chan embraced Nyah and cried really hard. It was very emotional. We spent the entire afternoon and early evening with Molavy and Chan. They took us to an organization called Daughters, where they help young girls and boys escape from the sex industry. Here these young ladies work in their store, café, and mani/pedi shop. We watched a short film on how their program helps these young girls and boys. In fact, they have a 98% success ratio with these kids. These girls were so lovely and hard to believe that there are people out there that continue to victimize them. For those of you who would like more information about this organization, you can go to www.daughtersofcambodia.org
They then took us to the Russian Market and dinner as well. We ate at a authentic Khmer restaurant called Friends. Friends organization takes in street kids and teaches them how to cook and work. The food was amazing. However, Nyah and I declined the fried tarantula. In the evening, we said our tearful goodbyes. But we definitely plan to stay in touch and see each other again soon.
The day ended on a uplifting note as we enjoyed children from a local orphanage that came and gave us a performance of apsara dance for us on the ship. They even had a Michael Jackson dance and Gangham Style dance. It was so cute and Nyah giggled a lot. One little boy tried to get her to dance with him, but she shyly refused even after a lot of encouragement.