The kids get a break from school for Thanksgiving, even though we’re in Japan, thanks to attending the American international school. Someone Betsy knows had recently gone to Cambodia and told her it was the greatest place since Disneyland and so we started looking into it. Trevor Hall served his mission there and also gave us some good advice.
For reference, Cambodia is in Southeast Asia, in between Vietnam and Thailand. It shares a great deal of cultural heritage with Thailand and is home to world heritage sites like Angkor Wat. It’s where Lara Croft found some cool treasure in the movie Tomb Raider.
Starting in about 800 AD, there was a big empire based out of Cambodia and they built a lot of awesome temples that are now amazing ruins. A few are really famous but for every famous ruin, there’s a dozen equally cool but somehow not famous options to explore. We spent a few days with a Tuk-Tuk driver taking us around and stopping whenever we said we wanted to. (A Tuk-Tuk is a chariot but the horse is replaced by a small engine scooter. You can hire one for a day for around $20.) Whenever we stopped to explore, we took turns letting one of the kids lead our explorations, and the Cambodians seem share my view of safety—which is to say, they hope you stay safe. The ruined temples were awesome with maze-like layouts, with varying levels of decay and stability. We definitely climbed on stuff that wasn’t safe and Betsy for sure had some heart-squeezing moments but nobody died.
Lea’s absolute favorite part was that we got to ride an elephant. It was about as fun as you’d expect—slow and slightly wobbly. But the girls’ elephant handler played a tune on a fat leaf and Lea talks about how awesome it was still. They let us overpay for some small pineapples and feed them to the elephants, which was cooler than the actual ride.
Our hotel had a salt-water swimming pool and we forgot water wings for Afton and so she learned how to swim. We’re pretty happy with how that worked out. One of the days, we went to a local street market and there was a barber who would cut the boys’ hair for $0.50 so we eagerly signed them up. Sadly, Reid’s haircut was so bad that we didn’t make Porter follow him into the chair. I’m honestly not sure if I’ve ever seen a worse haircut. Luckily it was Reid who went first—Porter’s got a lot more vanity about how his hair looks and gets pretty worked up if it gets cut too short and we ended up buzzing Reid’s head when we got home. All through the market, people kept trying to touch Afton and Lea and whenever they were able to speak English, they told us how lucky we are to be able to have four kids.
Reid had been studying the life-cycle of a silk-worm at school and Betsy found an opportunity for us to go to a silk-worm farm that was really fun to see. They showed us the whole process from larva to woven cloth and it was one of those things that makes you pause and say, “yeah, but what made that first guy say, hmmm…if we boil this cocoon in this odd liquid, and then use a funny fork, we can get a really delicate string that…” I mean seriously. The fact that we humans can innovate like that is amazing.
All in all, great trip that we highly recommend.
Here are some selected photos and the full album is here