Street Walking in Phnom Penh, Cambodia

It’s 5:30 am here in Phnom Penh, and my friend, RAD, and I are slowly getting up to welcome the new day. I am getting ready to go on my morning walk/run (today I am going to the river front, by the Mekong River) and RAD is getting ready to put on the John Tesh radio show as we both need a lot of intelligence for what lies ahead today.

It is a solid six hours to Battambang from here on our blue bus, which doesn’t go fast but gets us there safely. Our bus driver is our friend of many trips, Khandy, who is a believer and a very fun person to be around. He has a very loud laugh and is a big fan of a nice joke. We will have a very busy day ahead but at the end of our trip what waits us is more than worth the effort.

Today is a special day for another reason I will tell you later. Cannot tell you know because it is a surprise. But if you come back in the next day or so, you will read about it, perhaps with some pictures to illustrate it.

Walking along the busy streets of downtown Phnom Penh yesterday allowed us to see this country with a bird’s eye view. We stopped to chat with children who were in school — they were so adorable, using the English they know to greet us with many smiles. We peaked at a little boy and a little girl from a distance, who were sitting side-by-side with their arms around their shoulders, talking in each other’s ears, smiling and not having a care in the world. What a contrast this was to the stark surrounding of the classrooms where they sat — dark, virtually no bright colors on the wall, and from a distance what appeared to be very little educational resources.

Outside though, it is the daily grind of people trying to make a living. Small repair shops line the streets, with workers sometimes doing their work right on the sidewalk. Uneven sidewalks, by the way, seem to be the perpetual reminders that nothing is at appears and nothing seems predictable in this country.

Except, that is the love that awaits us from our kids at Grace Place, Battambang. That you can predict, you can take to the bank, and I am starting to feel it right now as we get ready to get on the “Khandy express.”

Ivanildo C. Trindade