Please excuse my absence from the blogging community as of late, but as you’ll see I had a very good reason. That reason being I took my first big vacation since joining the Peace Corps. Not only did I get to visit 2 new countries, I was also accompanied on the trip by some very special guests, my brother Matt and one of my best friends from home, Javier. We saw lots of things and visited lots of places all in a short amount of time. We were going places nonstop.

Our trip began in Bangkok Thailand. Their flight did not get in until midnight so I had a whole day by myself and what a day it was. After being in Cambodia for nearly a year I had almost forgotten what things were like in a bigger city. I had some major culture shock. When I first arrived I just stood around for a while looking at all the tall buildings and the bustling traffic. Once I finally figured out where I needed to go I hopped on the Skytrain (public transportation!!!) and went on my way. My main goal was to eat as much western junk food as possible before my guests arrived because I knew they would not want to come all the way to Thailand to eat at Pizza Hut or Burger King. I accomplished my goal with ease and also did some exploring of the city before they arrived. The next few days we just went around and saw all the touristy sights and sampled some of the local cuisine and had lots of fun. On our last night we celebrated my brothers 21st birthday. I think it’s fair to say he’ll never forget it.

After Thailand we went back to my site. They both got to see where I live and where I work and the community I live in. It’s nice to have someone back home now that truly knows what it is like over here and how I live my life and for them to be able to see where I work. They also got to meet my entire host family and all my neighbors, the reason being we had a joint birthday for myself and my brother, Khmer style. After that we went to Siem Reap to visit the temples at Angkor Wat and they got to experience a peace corps Cambodia volunteer party, which I’m also sure they will never forget and we also played some street hockey which I’ll post more about later. Our last stop in Cambodia was Phnom Penh.

First Dinner at site

 

With my health center staff

 

Birthday cake (I picked it out)

Birthday Party

 

After Phnom Penh we made our may to Vietnam. We stayed a few nights in Ho Chi Minh doing the same as in Thailand, sampling the local cuisine, seeing all the tourist sites and just having a good time. We got to explore the Cu Chi Tunnels that were made and used during the Vietnam War and also a few war museums. The museums were very interesting, but man oh man was it awkward being in there as an American. The walls were just plastered with the things that the “white American devils” had done. Before we entered the tunnels they showed us a video and a good portion of it was about people who had received awards for being American killers. But besides all the awkwardness we all had a blast.

Exploring the city

 

A night on the town

 

And we totally went bowling

 

In between all the language barriers, miscommunications, cultural awkwardness and even the occasional bouts with diarrhea, many irreplaceable memories were made and everyone had a blast. This trip was one of the highlights of my service so far. Even though it was a vacation I came back exhausted. Being able to share these things in person with my friends and family is something that I will never forget. I cannot even begin to express my gratitude that I have for my friends for spending all this money just to come see me, it really meant a lot. And if anyone else wants to come visit, don’t be shy, I still have some vacation days left.

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