We’re home now!
We had a fantastic time, but were definitely feeling a bit worn out by the end of the trip. Being home leaves me with some new inspiration to share our images and experiences. I intend to keep writing, a little bit at a time, until I have a good record of our journey. So you’ll continue to see new posts now and again. At this point, I’ve still got about three months of the trip to record. At the rate I’ve been going, I’ll be writing all year. 😉
Cambodia is a place that really stuck with us. I remember noticing the intrigue on Eric’s face when he would come back from a walk in Phnom Penh. It was obvious that he felt really interested and excited about being there. And I felt the same.
The funny thing is that on the surface, Cambodia lacks some of the things that might draw a traveler to a place. It is dusty and dirty. We had a harder time finding good food that was also affordable, as we often didn’t trust the street food. For the most part, the places that we went in Cambodia weren’t quite as spectacularly beautiful as places we had been before. But somehow it managed to draw us in the most.
I think that the reason for this has something to do with the people in Cambodia, and something to do its pretty horrific recent history. I had heard about the genocide in Cambodia before and knew about Pol Pot. But I hadn’t really considered the full weight of genocide before visiting there. It is not difficult, in life, to come across something that makes you feel disgusted about the cruelty that exists in the world. But the deliberate killing of an entire group of people? I absolutely cannot think of anything more horrible than that.
My experience in Cambodia felt very tied to my awareness of the history of the place. As I’d walk around, I’d have these moments of realization where I would think: Everybody that I am looking at that is my age or older has experienced genocide. Everybody that I am looking at that is younger than me has been parented by someone who has experienced genocide. It is intense to look into the faces of people who you know have been through something so devastating.
It left me feeling in awe. Amazed. Because, after all of that, it is a good place. Overall, the people are warm and wonderful. Things are far from perfect there, and many people clearly struggle, but after all of that terror, people have survived, and they are generally kind and good. It is amazing to me.
It says everything about resilience, and the strength of the human spirit. It is inspiring and humbling. If I think of the absolute worst thing that has ever happened in my life, it doesn’t hold a candle to what the entire country of people experienced during that time. It is not even in the same realm.
Being in Cambodia left me constantly –on a daily basis– feeling grateful. And it was impossible not to gain a little perspective.
Welcome back to the US. Incredible photos and I can’t wait to here the stories. I bet the kids will do very well in geography at school now. Hope to see you guys soon.
Interesting thoughts and great pictures. I am glad you plan to catch up on your travel log.
I am very happy that you enjoyed your travels and that you are all ” BACK IN THE USSA! (Some times i studder a little. :-))
It really is beyond me to express in words how proud I am of all you guys: the Nelius Family. In addition to being just flat-out courageous, it is an opportunity seized that few people take, and most would not want to. I was very touched by your last blog about the history of the Cambodian people. You’re absolutely correct – there is no way to fathom that kind of pain and suffering unless one lives it, and only an inkling can be gained by living among people who have lived it. It is obvious from the pictures that the boys got a tremendous amount of life experience out of this adventure. And it is the good kind: courage in the face of the unknown; adaptation to local conditions; communication when it might seem impossible; hanging tough.
“There are some who can live without wild things, and some who cannot.” Aldo Leopold