The Cambodia Saga: A New Location

Rain, rain, go away... notice the moto leaving a wake as it travels down the road.
Rain, rain, go away… notice the moto leaving a wake as it travels down the road.

It was another stormy night, and it is now another stormy morning. This weather pattern is so persistent with it’s overcast sky, steady trickle of rain, and torrential outbursts every couple of hours – kind of like a spoiled, grumpy child. But the children do not complain or fuss. They are pretty happy, no matter what. Odd, huh?

Our morning message by “Daddy Mike” was a review of the whole retreat. He reminded them that being more than conqueror meant standing up to peer pressure, recognizing authority, choosing good friends and resisting worldliness. They went over their memorized verse in Khmer and in English again.

Romans 8:37-39 “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God than is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

As they left the hotel a little later, those were the things we reminded them about along with our goodby hugs.

I have to say, the silence in the hotel after they left was deafening.

the lower entrance to Veranda gives just a hint of the beautiful stone and wood inside.
the lower entrance to Veranda gives just a hint of the beautiful stone and wood inside.

We packed up and climbed into tuk tuks for a short ride to our next stop, Veranda Natural Resort (www.veranda-resort.asia). It is on the side of a gentle, jungle covered mountain. The drive is steeply uphill and not paved so halfway there, our tuk tuk driver stopped and said no further. The mud and slipperiness made it impossible unless we got out and lightened the load. This might lead you to expect a less than wonderful experience ahead.

Exactly the opposite. This is the most awesome resort I have ever visited. If I could live here, I would.

And this is the open door to the room I would live in, really.  Video tour, next post.
And this is the open door to the room I would live in, really. Video tour, next post.

Describing this place deserves a whole post unto itself and it will come tomorrow with Tuesday Travel #8.

We had lunch and free time the rest of the day until it was time to have dinner. I was able to get online, review my pictures, stroll around the resort, take a dip in the pool and enjoy some time with Julie.  Our team had dinner together and talked about our impressions of the trip and our plans for the future. The evening ended with a game of cards designed to make enemies of friends (kidding, it was fun).

One of many photo moments I couldn't resist while strolling around Veranda.
One of many photo moments I couldn’t resist while strolling around Veranda.
There is a decidedly vertical dimension to this awesome resort.
There is a decidedly vertical dimension to this awesome resort.

Saturday in Kep, Cambodia

It is another blustery day with constant wind and a grey sky. Humidity is high. We have a free breakfast cafeteria with our room and it was pretty good, with some Western style food as well as the numerous concoctions to put over rice.

Breakfast at Rock Royal for all
Breakfast at Rock Royal for all

I am not planning to do much today. I was taking the stairs down to breakfast and stumbled, injuring my right foot a bit. The steps are slippery, black marble and the stairway is not lighted well. The steps are not regular either, the bottom one before a landing was triangular and I missed it altogether. Buidings here are such an interesting mix of sense and nonsense.

Another issue with the hotel was the use of the pool. This place was chosen specifically because of the nice pool that the children would be able to enjoy. Last year there were two drownings here and the government closed them down for a short period of time. When we got here and wanted to have the scheduled swim time with the dorm students, we were told that the pool was being chemically treated and would not be available for the whole time we are to be here. It’s very possible that the management was a little fearful of having a lot of children using the pool and made sure it would not be available. We are negotiating a refund since they knew the pool was to be the main attraction for us.

At lunch, discussing the needs of Asia Hope homes with director Savorn
At lunch, discussing the needs of Asia Hope homes with director Savorn

I was not hungry but lunch was the next thing on the schedule. We went in the Asia Hope van to a restaurant in Kep, getting a ticket along the way for going the wrong direction on a one way road. People are often trying to wave us in to their beachside cabanas and eating places and we ignore most of that but this time they were also trying to tell us we were going the wrong direction on the road. Who knew?

Julie and I were sitting at the same table with the director of Asia’s Hope, Savorn, and his wife Sony. This was a good time to discuss the funds that I had collected to donate and to decide how to use them. Savorn thought it was important to get water purification systems in each of the houses and so far only two had them. I had enough to purchase one and that was what the money will do. It will go in PE5 and be shared also with PE4 until they can purchase one too. I think Jack would have been glad to see his donation used this way.

Despite wind and rain Cambodians who come to the beach, come to the beach.
Despite wind and rain Cambodians who come to the beach, come to the beach.

Later: I was not planning to do much today (see paragraph 2 for proof) but just because I brought my swimsuit and shorts I decided to put them on and ride the bus to the beach with all the children. The public beach is only ¾ mile away and it is the only water option since the pool is not available. This resort town is on the South China Sea and the recent stormy weather has brought in some sizeable waves. It was in fact raining the whole time we were at the beach, but those who thought it important to remain dry stayed in the bus. The ocean was warm and most of the children were soon playing in the waves and having a great time. It was impossible to get only part way in so I was soon completely wet and had children hanging on each arm, jumping the waves with me. Later I got concerned about four or five of the boys who were bobbing around farther from shore. Rather than count heads each time they appeared between waves I went out and swam with them.

We were too wet to ride the bus back to the hotel so quite a few of us walked back, barefoot, in the pouring rain. No one had towels to dry themselves and we were a very bedraggled looking bunch. But everything we do with the kids serves to bond us to one or the other of them. They learn more about us and how we care and we learn more about them. It works.

Beach at Kep on a windy, rainy day.
Beach at Kep on a windy, rainy day.
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AGO dorm leaders on retreat at Kep
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AGO boys dorm leaders at Kep beach

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