Reflections from Natalie Dushney, Golden Week May 2007 Trip Leader

Posted on: May 31, 2007 Posted by: Kaia Smith Comments: 0

Reflections from Natalie Dushney, Golden Week May 2007 Trip Leader

It has been a year and a half since the genesis of our PEPY tours and though each of the ride and volunteer trips are unique, they share some similar aspects from volunteering or riding to visiting historical and cultural sites and temples.  We have all witnessed how unbelievably loving Cambodian students are.  We have all held sorrow in our hearts at S21 and the Killing Fields.  We have all marveled at the grandeur of Angkor Wat. 

I’ve had the wonderful fortune of going on both Golden Week trips, first as a participant, then as a co-leader.  This year, I realized that although PEPY participants are linked by the above experiences, we are also connected by the minute, often-overlooked experiences/revelations.  I’d like to share some of those with you.

Did you know that…

…our group consisted of a yakuza member, an anime artist, a shrimp-choker, a woman with a magical purse, a bottomless pit, a monkey,  a boxer, Santa, a fish-person, a lactater, and an Engrish-lover ?

…hard mangoes are better than soft mangoes?

…meeting your sponsor child at Cambodian Children’s Fund for the first time is initially daunting but is liable to turn into a smile and hug-filled fest?

…Friends restaurant has stopped printing a hardcover edition of its amazing cookbook, to the dismay of many?

…it is not a good idea to wear Thai fisherman-style short while playing running games with the kids as the shorts have a tendency of secretly coming untied?

…giant popadums can be found for sale on the Wat Phnom grounds?

…something simple like liquid silver painted on a pot helps save lives in a water filter?

…CLA’s master musician looks like a Cambodian Stevie Wonder?

…there is always one monkey on the trip who will climb Beng Melea the fastest, highest and longest?

…visiting the Killing Fields seems much more tragic the second time around?

…mangosteen and rambutan are similar to lychee and are thus gobbled up quickly

…Angkor Wat’s main hall is a prime place to dance and sing, to the amusement of all temple-goers?

…there is a carved visage in Ta Phrom, peeping out from the suffocation of the roots, visible to only those in-the-know?

…it is first awkward, but then reassuring, to be watched by a multitude of villagers while building a water tank?

…crickets taste like potato chips, salty and crunchy?

…while some people draw the line at tasting crickets, others love to amuse by sampling the huge, metallic beetles?

…the stoned pigs on the backs of motos are actually drunk?

…dancing with CCF students brings a new outlook on life?

…the intense heat causes people visiting Wat Phnom to beg to be sprayed with a hose, while other people look on with jealousy?

…there is one girl who walks the riverside beat and will follow you for almost 1 km if you do not buy a book from her?

…even though tear-inducing emotions can overcome you at any time on a PEPY trip, a hug from a trip-mate will make all the difference?

…the generosity of trip members knows no bounds, as exemplified by someone thanking a generous and talented villager with a full art set?

…the monkeys at Wat Phnom do not hesitate to nibble feet, climb on laps and open purses, regardless of how many people are there?