Our whole team was in place this morning and we were able to meet after breakfast for prayer and discussion. Good news, the missing bag was found at the airport and is now back in our possession. It had a lot of medical and dental supplies in it so we are thankful.
A couple of brave souls, Mike Hunsader and Julia Dietz, decided to go have dentistry done. Phnom Penh is reportedly becoming a destination for affordable dental work at much less expense than in the U.S. They both returned feeling positive about their treatment.
The other major activity was meeting the children of PE5 at Central Market for shopping. It has been a traditional outing for many visits and the children really look forward to being able to look for a special item, bargain for the price, and come away with their item. Everyone gets to choose something they need or want, even the house parents and cooks. Common items are jeans, bags (purses), shirts, belts, shoes. Almost everything can be had for under $10.
Central Market is a large place, not airconditioned for the most part (of course) but covered. We encountered some rain on the way over, and the kids were slightly damp too. After an hour shopping we were all wet from one thing or another, mostly sweat. It never ceases to amaze me how the house parents can get all 20+ children transported to meet us, keep track of them all while they shop in this labyrinth of a marketplace and remain fairly calm and placid during it all. We help, of course, but the kids are so well behaved and actually keep track of themselves, and watch out for each other. They are easy to spend time with – often coming up for a hug or holding hands with us as we walk.
Just like in the United States, modern malls are competing for shoppers and as a result, the Sorya Mall near Central Market, where we usually have taken the kids for pizza, was being remodeled. It is just a short walk from the market and the kids have learned how to ride escalators and eat fast food there – not necessarily the best eating tradition but a real treat for the kids nonetheless. But today it was a mess.
Most of the entrances were boarded off and construction on almost all of the six floors meant that the place was open to air and quite warm. The escalators were working however and we rode them to the top story to the Market Grill, which was still open for business. Business would have been nearly non-existent for them had we not come.
They were unprepared for our 30 orders all at once, even though we had warned them and checked the menu ahead. The next hour and a half was a comedy of sorts as they passed out drinks, French fries and chicken. They ended up with two meals that no one had ordered and a great deal of confusion. But a little confusion never seems to dampen anyone’s mood here, and we all got fed, eventually.
Another area of construction was the riverfront park where we usually had taken the kids to spend time walking and seeing the sights by the Imperial Palace. Our substitute for that activity was an amusement arcade on the 6th floor of the mall, close to the Market Grill. The kids love all the game machines and seem to know how to play them – or maybe they just catch on more quickly than I do. They each got a dollar’s worth of tokens to spend and managed to have fun for another hour trying to outwit the machines. It was a loud place since each game had its own loud music, bells and noises. I have to admit, I felt really old, with a bit of sensory overstimulation going on. I was glad when we called it a night and rode our tuk tuks back to the hotel.
Day 6 was nearly the same outing with different people and having done it the day before helped everything go a little smoother. The restaurant made a great effort to get us served more efficiently this go round, and the arcade was actually kind of fun.
I think I had a case of dehydration the night before that kept me from feeling my best. That is something we really have to watch out for since it is so hot everywhere we go. Even though I am from Florida with a climate similar to this, I realize how much time I spend in air-conditioned spaces. It is amazing to me that even with the heat, most people here do not dress to stay cool. A combination of modesty, and not wanting to be tanned, has them in long pants, long sleeved shirts much of the time, head coverings and jackets or wraps of some kind. I don’t know how they can do it.