March 25, 2012

Cambodia: First Impressions of Phnom Penh

Good evening or perhaps good morning all,

First and foremost, please know that your children are happy and safe. They have quickly connected and it has been wonderful to see them care for each other. 

We have been keeping busy. After shopping yesterday afternoon we let them rest for a bit and then went to dinner. Though some of them were very tired, we all hung in there and managed to stay awake until about 8:15pm. A notable triumph after 24 hours of travel and half a day of sightseeing.

Today we visited the Royal Palace, Tuol Sleng prison, and a memorial built at the sight of the Killing Fields. We then returned to the hotel and had a time of journal writing and sharing about the day. Students asked great questions and were honest about their emotions and reflections. They are now having some free time before dinner. 

I asked them what they wished me to share with you and here were their responses.

First, there is no cell service here at all. So even if your son or daughter has an international calling plan, do not expect to hear from them via telephone. 

It's very hot and humid. 

They will admit to experiencing culture shock. The contrast between Santa Barbara and Phnom Penh is dramatic. The sights, smells, food, and driving are all a bit more intense. There are omnipresent signs of poverty and the lack of zoning leads to an incredibly chaotic environment. 

Nadia gets the prize for best bargaining skills, she is a natural. Ryan and Tiana were adventurous with hot peppers at lunch and came to regret it quickly. Tristan and Hughes beat them though for most unusual food item by trying chicken foot.   

We will send more soon. 

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