I love people; friends, family, friends of friends, friends of family, family of friends, and friends I have not had a chance to meet yet. New and old acquaintances from work, travel, and life. People I see on a regular basis and those that it has been way too long since I have had a chance to see. Strangers, which I hope won’t be stranger for long. Restaurant, hotel and airline staff, fellow travelers and those native to where ever I happen to be. All and all, I love people!
Most recently I was reminding of this fact when I had a chance to meet up with an old friend from Austin who was traveling in Cambodia, his birth country, that he had not been back to since leaving in 1975 when all hell had broken out there. He was on travel with his wife and family and friends from Austin and Cambodia who had come to kick off a new “Friendship City” between Austin and Siem Reap, the home of Angkor Wat.
I was in Phuket and had to make a decision to continue my travels south on a cheap direct flight to Kuala Lumpur and on to Singapore or divert my plans and fly up to see Channy while he and his entourage were still in Cambodia. Having a chance to see a good friend on travel, while following the advice of another good friend Julie, who had recommended seeing Cambodia, it made my decision an easy one. Adding to it, having a chance to visit a new Country, that has such a history overall and particularly for my friend, it was a no brainer. And as payback, not that I needed one, was the diversion has giving me more positive feelings and good energy than I can began to describe.
I flew in to Phnom Penh Tuesday afternoon and I am writing this in the van (Channy’s travel van) on the way back to the airport on Wednesday afternoon, so almost exactly an 24-hour side trip, that has added so much to my travels. Many, many thanks to Channy, his wife Laura, the rest of the entourage and all the good, good friends and amazing people overall, all of you, for making this life so damn good!
Channy’s story and those of his friends are amazing, all who had been in the Cambodian Navy before the genocide happened here with the Khmer Rouge Regime. One of the gentleman told the story, somewhat in the way that, ‘it happens’, that he had lost all thirteen of his siblings to the killing fields under the rule of Pol Pot. I guess when nearly 2.5 million people had been killed and another 1.5 million displaces from the Country, cutting the population in half after the Civil war, everyone knows someone who was lost or lost someone themselves, in this case many of his own family. I am so glad this group was here to tell the story, and I was there to hear it.
Growing up in Antigo, Wisconsin, there was a family from Cambodia that my Mom and a number of families from my home town helped to start a new life in the States. At the time I sadly did not know or understand the full impact and happenings of the story in Cambodia or the importance of what was being done to help this family establish a life in Antigo. I fear I probably was more concerned about having to share my Easter basket candy at the time! – …but now having a chance to visit their home country and getting a chance to meet others that were effect so greatly by this tragic part of our worlds history, I am so glad my mom and the other families of Antigo had the good sense to help, past my naive self!
As I am leaving Cambodia, I am also leaving the last two plus weeks I spent in Thailand, getting into this new relaxed mode of travel and where my sentiment of loving people has proven itself time and time again with new connections. I don’t know, maybe I have become more open?!? – or maybe there are just a lot more people traveling and to meet in Thailand – maybe just more of a party atmosphere, …but whatever it is, since I have arrived, I have had the chance to meet some of the coolest and fun people. Every place I have been and every time I pack up and head to a new place, it seems I meet another set of new, cool, fun and interesting people.
I flew through Bangkok as I arrived in Thailand and transferred to a different airport to fly down south to the islands. I ended up on a bus and later on to a ferry to get out to the Full Moon Party on Ko Pha Ngan by about 9:00 PM that night of the full moon (Oct 30th) and on the way I met this coolest couple, Natasha and …I think Steve, who apparently were no longer a couple, but still traveling together, from Calgary, – and arriving, like me, for a the all night party with only a few hours to spare. On the ferry we had a chance to talk about their travels through Bali and KL and the Philippines. I learned tons and loved talking with them. I missed seeing them at the party on the beach, but I know they were having fun, along with me and 20k other people!
The following morning, the hotel, that I sort of stayed in, told me that it was a three-day wait to get a ferry to Ko Tao, but I went to the ferry and was able to get on, what I am sure was a well overloaded boat, no problem. While waiting in line I met two girls, Brittney and Monica, again from Canada, this time from Nanaimo on Vancouver Island – Again the coolest people – I was thinking about taking diving lessons on Ko Tao and ended up being approached by a guy from Ban’s on the ferry about checking out their hotel (Stay for free if you take the lessons there) – I had no place to stay and no plan, so I thought I would check it out – when I arrived, Monica and Brittney were there as well and planning the same thing; to check it out. – Three days later, we were all open water certified and celebrating with our dive instructor at the local bar at Bans. – Just good, good people!
As travels continued, so did my meeting more people and partying with them and or talking and learning about their travels and lives and happenings and all. A couple in Ko Samui, another new couple on the bus to Phuket, another couple in route to Ko Phi Phi, all the people at Adventure Club Diving, where I got my Advanced Open Water Diving Certificate, people at the beach, people back in Phuket, this time on Patong Beach… everywhere – all new people, but all people just great to meet and have added so much to my travels and experiences. – I love people!
I am off now to do a little City touring; Kuala Lumpur and Singapore, before heading to Bali for a week, but before I start that leg and hopefully meet some more good people, new and old friends, let me share some pictures from my time on the Islands of Thailand; Ko Pha Ngan, Ko Tao, Ko Samui , Phuket (Kata Beach), Ko Phi Phi and back to Phuket (Patong Beach):